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Monthly Archives: June 2007


My friend JP and I were sitting around, just hanging out one day. He was telling me about how he thinks it would be a crime deterrant if prisoners were forced to dress in clown costumes. Could you imagine it? Gangbangers and thugs, thieves and pedophiles, all subjected to wearing floppy shoes, bushy wigs and bright polka dotted jumpsuits.

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Perhaps some of you believe this to be cruel and unusual punishment. I guess you’ve never heard about Joe Arpaio. He’s the Arizona Sheriff who has made pink underwear mandatory uniform, while subjecting them to quote, “patriotic songs.”  Sherrif Requires Jailed Immigrants to Listen to ‘Patriotic Music,’ Wear Pink Underwear So which cliche shall we use? Has the die been cast? Maybe the genie’s out of the bottle. Whatever trite blurb you want to attach, precedent is set. So let’s push the idea of patriotic songs a little bit.

Why? Because that’s exactly what JP and I started doing. It just so happens that I’ve got an incredibly bad collection of mp3’s, everything from Shaq rapping (How to Rob the NBA League is a gem) to Whitney Houston to Wang Chung to Slayer to Sublime to Immortal Technique to Madonna to Nas, with everything in between.

Wang Chung Wednesdays just sounded right. Picture the first sound an inmate hearing as the melodic tunes of Wang Chung, and the last sound an inmate hearing as the melodic tunes of Wang Chung. Every day would be dedicated to one song. Monster Mash Mondays, Linger Tuesdays, Wang Chung Wednesdays…..you get the idea. I’d go on, but I’m in the process of crafting a proposal for The Geo Group, or perhaps CCA. Any privatization firm willing to listen, really. Can you dispute the notion that having to listen to The Cranberries or 4 Non Blondes, wearing clown gear would deter recitivism?

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I’d imagine a lot of criminals would be deterred from returning to prison.  Cruel and unusual?  Only if you think humiliating is cruel and unusual.  That’s where the deterrent comes from.  So if you think straightening people out in unconventional ways is cruel, then give me a suggestion!  Until I hear something better, I think this would be the most effective prison reform.  Time to craft a methodology to write the study on the possibilities…….

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One thing that’s really nagged me about the entire argument concerning the wars abroad is, most pundits and people cease to realize why exactly we’re in military gridlock, stuck in Iraq until we get the green light, say 2011. We’re doing little to no physical reconstruction of real institutions. Try doing a google search for schools built in Iraq. I found three noteworthy articles. Harry Browne has this slightly scathing article on the reconstruction effort(http://www.harrybrowne.org/articles/IraqQuestions.htm) , but it’s from 2005. A couple of articles come up from the past few months. Middle East Onlinebrings us the tale from Samawa of local villagers taking things into their own hands, never a good sign of foreign led progress (http://www.middle-east-online.com/ENGLISH/?id=20893).

But we do hear of the Minnesota Soldiers who just finished building a school in Balad (http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1844853/posts).  We see that progress is being made, but is it enough? Try searching for official White House figures. If you find any, point them in my direction….I can’t find them.

There’s no use in side stepping the real question I’m trying to illuminate: if we’re not replacing infrastructure, how in the world can we ever expect to be done in Iraq. I don’t want to argue about the merits of our jaunt into the Persian Gulf. Enough’s been said. But what needs to begin is a dialogue, namely on doing our best to replace and drastically improve the Iraqi infrastructure. This does not mean rebuilding the Oil Ministry (that was secured first thing, hence no need to rebuild), but taking the time and effort to make life a little more livable for regular citizens.

Some postulate, “But Drew, if we build schools and hospitals, terrorists would only try to destroy them.” Let ’em, I say. If we put in the work and actually construct beneficial facilities, whatever happens afterwards is out of our hands. Hell, even if some fanatics bomb a new school, all that would do is tip public opinion towards us. Is that bad? Not at all. What’s bad is that we haven’t heard anything about rebuilding the infrastructure in Iraq. How can an ideological war be won without engendering goodwill and extending an olive branch?


I believe in the idea of America. Sadly, I’ve lost faith in the country. A few years back, I ventured out to Europe, to backpack around for a few months. Definitely the best experience of my life. At that point, I thought the United States was the best country on Planet Earth, with the most freedoms afforded to its people.

As time goes by, though, things change. In this instance, people change. I’ve grown more cynical, and now stand on the fence. What’s changed? For one, I’ve taken a more critical look at the freedoms Americans have been granted. They’re not as impressive as one would imagine. Freedom is more than rhetoric and patriotism, which leads us to the problems facing the U.S. Through my eyes, everyday people are not necessarily more free than other countrymen.

Consider my friend Logan. He recently moved to Los Angeles for a job, and to follow his aspirations to produce music. Moving to L.A, can you guess what the first thing Logan did?

He bought a car. Had to…..how else would he get to work? Public transportation? That’s a pipe dream out that way. Now this is not me railing against Los Angeles. Anywhere, everywhere, you need an automobile. Just take a look at the American infrastructure. We’re a nation built on highways, rather than say, the German model, which is built on railways. So right off the bat, if you want to chase down the American dream, your first act is to put yourself into debt.

While not an American concept, debt is something most everyday people have wholeheartedly embraced. On a sidenote, people also embrace an ‘in the moment’ perspective, deferring responsibility and consequences for the future. People, if they’re free, are shareholders. Living in a free market democracy leads to inequity.

Like any marketplace, there are buyers and sellers. But unlike any other system in the world, American corporations were given the rights of people. Where else is an abstract entity given the rights of everyday men and women (especially the right to privacy)? Due to this, the sellers exert incredible influence over buyers, literally in every aspect of life. Look in your child’s school. Dollars to donuts they’ve got a soda machine. Why is this worth mentioning? It’s simply one more avenue for trans-nationals to cultivate brand loyalty.

See, this is essentially the problem I’m grappling with. In the American system, there are two types of people: tangible and intangible. The intangible people, they’re corporate entities. When the supreme court decided in 1873 to grant 14th amendment rights to corporate entities, the shift towards oligarchy began. How can profit driven entities be the same as people? Show me the person you know whose only interested in making money, and I’ll show you a materialistic, shallow, rather petty shell of a human being. People seek out more than bottom line profits. They want love, understanding, a shoulder to lean on, to laugh and cry and all the other emotions entwined with the human condition.

Granting humanity to entities? That’s a stretch. But as they say, the die’s been cast, and that’s the world we’re living in today. This is the problem, as I see it. People have lost touch with people, through myriad of modern conveniences, from GPS systems to social networking websites to strip malls to everything in between. And that’s why I’m on the fence. As great a country as America may have the potential to be, we’re not that country. I’d still rather live here than, say, Bolivia.

As you look back, though, things are simply happening again? Iraqi wmd’s? Sound like the Gulf of Tonkin? What bothers me about everything that’s happening today is people are being spoon fed rhetoric and lies, and they like it! In my few years on Earth, I’ve learned one hard lesson. People don’t want to hear it. Doesn’t matter what you’ve got to say, they don’t want to hear it. Let me take you back to high school football practice. Coach Wiederkehr used to warn us of getting fat and happy; his words had meaning, carrying us to the Long Island title. But his warning, not to be fat and happy, is something that others need to hear.

For most Americans, if you have a secure job, a car you enjoy driving, some semblence of a family or social life, you’re content. I believe that’s because people don’t critically question the things going on around them. That’s why I’m on the fence, because I don’t know what merit there is venturing into the fracas. As much as I’d like to help a few other people see the elaborate shell game taking place on our dime, I don’t think it’s that easy to change minds. The closing of America’s collective mind is the saddest tragedy of our time, and something that won’t stop until people begin questioning the fundamentals of contemporary society. America’s a great idea….by the people, for the people. Let’s try and make it happen one of these days.