America loves to punish. It was part of the colonial DNA that white pilgrims brought to the “new land” from the old land of England. There was pillorying, burning at the stake, hanging, drawing, quartering, whippings, and a litany of other torturous punishments, sometimes for just pissing in public mud street.

After America became a full-fledged nation in 1791 with a ratified constitution, it began to experiment with both the need and purpose for such punishments. The pilgrims’ purposes for revenge and torture punishments had not worked too well in an expanding, land-grabbing nation, although these kinds of punishment were frequently inflicted on Native Americans, African-Americans, and immigrants from Ireland, China and Italy when they ventured out of their social class.

Thus, America, in many ways, was built not only on its ability to punish but in its innate willingness to inflict punishment.

By the 20th century as time changed societies, America had pretty much settled on five purposes for punishment: deterrence, incapacitation, rehabilitation, retribution and restitution.

Since 1900 under this five-purpose punishment-model, America has carried out nearly 9,000 executions and today has more than 200,000 people incarcerated in its prison system serving life sentences—that represents 83 percent of the people in the entire world serving life sentences, according to the Sentencing Project.

Of the life sentenced inmates, nearly 56,000 are serving their sentences without the benefit of parole. Plus, there are another 43,000 inmates serving what is known as “virtual life sentences”—sentences so long that they exceed life expectations.

Under the five-purpose punishment model, America now incarcerates roughly 25 percent of the world’s prisoners although our nation represents only 5 percent of the world’s population

That is what the five-purpose punishment model has accomplished for America—the largest, most expensive, least effective, and one of the most brutal penal systems in the world.

There is one core fact about the America’s five-purpose punishment model—it has always disproportionately punished people of color, the economically disadvantaged, and the intellectually disenfranchised. This irrefutable fact demonstrates the historical systemic racism in this five-purpose punishment model—and I really don’t care how many “critical race theory” opponents would rather color this fact out of the history books.

Finally, here is the last example of the way the five-purpose punishment model works in real time:

On January 6, 2021, a white mob of insurrectionists—led by white supremacists groups the FBI has labeled “domestic terrorists“—stormed the nation’s Capitol Building. Many in that riotous mob had a specific intent to kill the Vice-President of the United States and its Speaker of the House of Representatives. Five people died as a result of the insurrection, four police officers committed suicide, hundreds of people were injured, dozens of Congressional members were either terrorized or traumatized, and millions of dollars in damage done to the Capitol Building.

Of the roughly 600 people arrested in the wake of the failed coup attempt, more than a dozen of them have been punished with probation, home detention, days of jail incarceration, and a couple with minor prison sentences, the longest being nearly 4 years.

Compare those punishments to the 4,000 life sentences imposed on drug offenders—two-third of whom are black or members of a minority ethnic group report the Sentencing Project—convicted in mostly minor drug deals that did not cause a loss of life or damage to property.

So, here we are: Kill a cop in an insurrection and get four years if you are white or sell a pound of weed and get a life sentence, sometimes without parole, if you are black.

The result: there are murderous white insurrectionists (through the “law of parties”) serving home detention while there are black petty criminals serving life sentences (under “three strikes”) for stealing a pizza.

There was a time in America during the Jim Crow era when a black man served more time in prison for killing a goat than a white man served for killing his wife.

The January 6 insurrection proves that America has once again embraced Jim Crow.


Darrell Brooks

The 39-year-old career criminal who drove his vehicle into a  “Christmas Parade” crowd on Sunday killing five elderly band members, injuring 40 or more—mostly children—in Waukesha Town, Wisconsin, a Milwaukee suburb.

Brooks has a criminal history involving arrests and/or convictions for drugs, illegal possession of firearms, violent assaults, sexual assaults of a minor, endangering public safety, disorderly conduct, and bail jumping.

Brooks was on a $1,000 bail at the time of the Christmas Parade for assaulting his female companion earlier this year by punching her in the face and running over her with the same vehicle used in the parade attack.

The Milwaukee District Attorney’s Office had initially requested a $10,000 bail before reducing it to $7,000and finally allowing his release in September on the $1,000 bail in the girlfriend assault case.

There is now a lot of finger pointing about who is responsible for Brooks’ release on the unusually low $1,000 bail considering his violent criminal history and an outstanding arrest warrant in another state for the sexual assault of a minor.

But there are two other equally important issues that should be investigated.

First, was Brooks a law enforcement informant, either for federal or state authorities? He obviously got preferred treatment on bail, prosecution and sentencing matters throughout his lengthy criminal history. Smells like a “rat” to me.

Why would a District Attorney drop a $10,000 bail to a $1,000  bail for a violent career criminal?

 It simply doesn’t pass the “rat smell” test.

Second, why didn’t the U.S. Attorney’s office arrest and prosecute Brooks for a being a felon in possession of a firearm?

He was a convicted felon, he illegally possessed a firearm, and he used those firearms to threaten and assault people. Given Brooks’ criminal history, a federal conviction for a felon in possession of a firearm would have resulted in a ten-year prison sentence.

So why did both state and federal law enforcement officials turn a blind eye to Brooks’ violent criminal history which certainly led to the tragic Christmas Parade deaths?

That fucking rat smell is really getting annoying.


Executive clemency

A pardon or any act of executive clemency is a matter of grace given to the president or governor through constitutional authority.

Executive clemency can be granted or denied for a specific reason or for no reason at all. Due process of law does not attach to executive clemency decisions because a pardon or commutation of sentence is a privilege, not a right.

It is within these board parameters that Oklahoma Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt yesterday commuted Julius Jones’ death sentence to life without parole. The governor’s decision came after growing national and international concern about Jones’ execution because of credible evidence that he may be innocent of the crime for which he stands convicted.

Gov. Stitt’s decision, however, was not influenced by Jones’ possible innocence. The governor conditioned his commutation that Jones would never be eligible for parole release. Worse yet, the governor’s commutation also carried the condition that Jones can never apply for another commutation.

In effect, the governor made his executive intent clear: Jones will remain in prison until he dies, unless some state or federal court grants him a new trial.

That is not mercy, folks.

It is torture in the worse degree. Jones commutation is not a cause for celebration. It is a decision that should be understood for exactly what it is: the sparing of death by lethal injection in exchange for an imprisoned sentence that will ultimately result in death in some prison cell or infirmary. The present cause for celebration will pass and the agony of doing time without hope will consume Jones and his family.

One of Jones’s longtime supporters, Oklahoma State Sen. George Young (D), understands this reality.

“I was expecting this, and it’s still hard to digest,” Young said upon learning about Gov. Stitt’s commutation. “He waits to the last minute to not kill him, but assign him to a fate that is in some ways worse than death and [the governor] claims the high ground.”

I understand executive clemency through personal experience.

In 1990 the Louisiana Board of Pardons recommended to then Gov. Buddy Roemer that my life without parole sentence be commuted to 75 years.

In 1992, in his last official work day as governor, Roemer commuted my life sentence but increased the recommended 75 years to 90 years—a power the governor enjoyed.

The Louisiana Department Corrections ruled that I was not eligible for parole under Gov. Roemer commutation order. A two-year legal battle ensued concluding with Roemer appearing in court—something no other Louisiana governor had ever done—telling both the court and the DOC that it was his executive intent that I be immediately eligible for parole upon his signing the commutation.

Forced to give me a parole hearing, and none too pleased about the matter, the DOC through the parole board made me serve another 12 years and undergo seven parole hearings before I was granted parole in 2006.

Charles “Buddy” Roemer was not only an excellent, honest governor (a rarity in Louisiana) but he was a brilliant, compassionate human being as well. Roemer passed away earlier this year. There has not a time in my life since 1992 that I did not thank and appreciate Gov. Roemer for the political courage it took commute my life sentence.

Julius Jones will never be able to feel that for Gov. Kevin Stitt. The governor made it clear he wants Jones to die in the Oklahoma prison system, regardless of whether he is innocent or not.

Those who say Jones should be happy because he is no longer on death row know nothing about prison and what life without hope means.


Return to pre-Civil War political violence

The Baltimore Sun reported three days ago that in the three decades prior to the Civil War there were “more than 70 duels and other violent incidents” among members of Congress.

Political violence is rooted in the DNA of American government, at both the federal and state levels. This nation was founded on political violence and its “greatness” has been shaped and defined by violence with political undercurrents.

Today America is sitting on the precipice of pre-Civil War political violence.

Foreign Policy informs us that there are three core societal elements that can lead to civil war: “fractured elites with competing narratives, deep-seated identity cleavages, and a politically polarized citizenry.”

All three elements are today at the core of governance in both federal and state governments. The common good and the interests of the people have been abandoned as these elements come to a pre-civil war boil. Political tribalism for the first time since the period of 1830 to 1860 poses a real threat to cascade into violent political sectarianism.

The evidence of this dark violent brew is everywhere in these United States.

At an October political event staged in Western Idaho by Turning Point USA, a far right-wing youth organization, an attendee asked the group’s founder, Charlie Kirk, “when do we get to use the guns … to kill these people (Democrats)?”

A local state legislator later commented that the attendee had raised a “fair question.”

An Ohio U.S. Senate candidate has advocated the use of violence to oppose what he calls government “tyranny”—mask and vaccine mandates.

The Washington Post reports that recent polling data found that 30 percent of Republicans and 40 percent of the people who trust “far right” news sources believe that “true patriots” may have to resort to violence to achieve their political objectives. The Post quoted a senior fellow at the left leaning group New America as saying:

“When you start dehumanizing political opponents, or really anybody, it becomes a lot easier to inflict violence on them,” Lee Drutman said. “I have a hard time seeing how we have a peaceful 2024 election after everything that’s happened now. I don’t see the rhetoric turning down; I don’t see the conflicts going away. I really do think it’s hard to see how it gets better before it gets worse.”

Arizona Republican Congressman Paul Gosar was just censured by the U.S. House of Representatives after he posted, and then removed, a cartoon depicting him killing Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and physically battling President Joe Biden—a president that at least 50 million Republicans do not believe was fairly elected and should be dethroned.

North Carolina Republican Congressman Madison Cawthorn and Georgia Republican Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene also have a penchant for political violence. They have both threatened to execute other members of Congress. Both have endorsed the violent insurrection in Washington, D.C. on January 6, calling it a “patriotic” peaceful event.

These calls for political violence have reached the ears of criminal violence. Carnegie Endowment, citing Washington Post data, reported in September that during the preceding 16 weeks at least 50 drivers plowed into crowds of peaceful protestors. Militarized police brutality, white supremacists groups, hate crimes, and politically motivated mass shooters are all increasing at dangerous levels.

This criminal violence, which is being fueled by the increasing prevalence of political violence, has most assuredly led to a recent explosion of ordinary street and domestic violence. No one is truly safe anymore. Fear dominates our social landscape: citizens fear strangers, children distrust parents, spouses live with threats, and neighbor is suspicious of neighbor.

American free world culture has now become a maximum security prison culture.


Death threats.

America has become a nation of death threats and vile expletives. School board members, elected officials and government employees routinely face the most disgusting death threats for nothing more than carrying out their official duties and responsibilities.

America is now a hate-driven nation with disagreements, slights, and real or imagined insults being resolved through violence—a warped violence fueled by racism, diverse ideologies, political differences, and forced social separation. Americans are divided between “us and them,” with most people not even knowing who us or them are.

Death threats are most often delivered anonymously. That’s because the individuals making them are most often a cowards.

Anonymity is cowardice.

But this reality offers little solace to be person being threatened—many of whom react in fear, suspicion, and dread. They conceal themselves in their homes venturing out only when necessary. They fear not only for themselves but for their love ones and friends.

In the meantime, the persons issuing the death threats remains hidden in their grimy little world of insignificance. They are blowhards, loud mouths, and cowards who flee at the first hint of risk or challenge.

For example: all the loud mouth insurrectionists being held in protective custody in the D.C. jail boasting and bragging about their feats would be another man’s bitch in general population of any regular prison. But with fake ox horns on their heads and Confederate flags wrapped around their asses and bullshit tattoos covering half their bodies while in the midst of like-minded idiots, they can easily threaten “hang Mike Pence” or “kill Nancy Pelosi.”

An Arizona Republican congressman recently posted a photoshopped anime video on his Twitter and Instagram accounts depicting him killing Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and attacking President Joe Biden. The Arizona congressman said it was part of his “put America first” agenda.

The reality is this: If captured by the enemy as his fellow Republican Senator John McCain was in Vietnam and subjected to torture, this  Arizona congressman would give up the name, rank and serial number of every man, woman and child in America just to save himself from a single slap upside the head. That would be his real “put America first” agenda.

There is no foreseeable end to the social and political madness currently gripping the soul of America. A once leisure trip to the grocery, hardware store, or a restaurant now carries a risk of confrontation; and a family drive on the Interstate can lead to the death of an innocent child because two enraged motherf..kers want to shoot it out with each other in a “road rage” incident.

The recent deadly Houston concert stampede mirrors the social fabric of this nation—people routinely breaking through barriers, pushing for the best position, and shoving to be first; brutish, violent attacks on airlines; and gun violence that leaves too many public streets and private homes stained with blood.

That is where we are, folks—the cowardice and insanity of the mob replacing the rule of law and social decency.

My wife and I watched the Showtime documentary “Attica” last night, and America today is a reflection of that prison yard under siege with an inevitable tragic end on the horizon.

If a border wall is necessary for this country, it is not to keep the hordes out but to keep the American madness confined.

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