The Stew of Discontent
The cloak of secrecy should be removed from the prisons. Prisoners claim they are brutalized by the guards, the guards say it is a lie. Where is the impartial test of truth in such a situation? Prison officials have forgotten that they work for us, that they are only public servants whose salaries are paid by our taxes. They act as if it is their prison, like a child with a toy he won’t share. Neither lawyers, judges, the legislature nor the public is allowed into prisons to ascertain the truth unless the visit is sanctioned by authorities and until all is prepared for their visit. I was shocked to learn that my request to join a congressional investigating committee’s tour of San Quentin and Soledad was refused, as was that of the news media.
Philip C. Zimbardo
‘Pathology of Imprisonment”
ThE STEW OF DISCONTENT
(Ain’t No Meat Up In The Pan)
I watch in wonder from my cell as the feral cats outside adopt a new hunting strategy——they simply loll about in the shade and wait for heat—stricken pidgeons to fall from the eaves above. It is hot as hell here in Texas- you could say all the moisture has boiled away. A headline story from the April 18, 2011, Dallas Morning News opens, “Prison experts are warning that only so much fat can be cut before a relatively peaceful prison system boils up into a dangerous stew of discontent.” 
What is fat and what meat in this stew of discontent aside for the moment, we see that in the typical pennywise, pound—foolishness of our so—called leaders,” those experts’ warnings went unheeded. For only a few weeks later, in May, some of that stewing ‘discontent” boiled over in the A—side dining hall on the Coffield unit of the TDCJ—CID.
Several guards and prisoners were seriously injured in the ensuing riot. One guard, Officer Feaker, required staples to close up the place in his scalp where one of Coffield’s “discontents” opened it with a serving pitcher. Those prisoners unfortunate enough to have been in the dining hall when the stew boiled over are still on punitive lockdown——whether they participated, or not.
According to Vikrant Reddy, a policy analyst for the Center for Effective Justice at the Texas Public Foundation, a conservative think tank,  “You can reach the point where a criminal justice system has been stripped down to the bone and beyond that you’re chipping away at the bone. But I don’t think we’re there yet.” 
Officer Feaker might have a different take on that bone-chipping assessment, but the riot should come as no surprise—this past June was the hottest on record for Texas. More records are projected to be broken.
Depending upon whom one chooses to believe, the riot was sparked by a conflict between a prisoner and a guard concerning a coldcut of salami loaf. The “official” explanation is that the prisoner was trying to get an extra helping. The story coming from prisoners is that he was merely trying to get what he was entitled to in a world where that entitlement is frequently subject to the whimsical, arbitrary interpretation of prison guards.
Either way, reality is and always has been just as Ol’ Ledbelly sang in “Midnight Special,” Ain’t no fork up on the table/ain’t no meat up in the pan/ But you better not complain, boy/ you’ll get in trouble wit da man.
Here on Coffield this stew of discontent has long been simmering, and the experts’ warnings are, as usual, coming too late. For the Coffield unit Food Services, Education & Recreation, and Access To Courts Departments have long engaged in low—level graft disguised as unofficial “austerity measures.” There was never any fat to trim, scant meat to eat, but lots of bones to pick—some of frightful configuration and mysterious origin.
Fat, meat, bone—these are all euphemisms, of course. But when talking tough turkey, like Vikrant Ready, one must be willing to put other things in one’s mouth. For instance, hors d’oeuvres de Detournement de Fonds; le soupe du jour, Le Nausee; et la piece de resistance, La Corruption Systemigue.
Part of the perennial problem with the Texas prison system stems from an inherent comprehension deficit. To use an idea of Alexander Solzhenitsynts, it seems we’ve lost capacity for the sense of danger  one ought feel at the monstrous reality, indeed, the utter odiousness of the fact that Texas is home to 112 prisons. That is a point upon which few can bear to think too long. For what does such a figure mean? What does it say about society?
While Texas politicos are finally coming around to the reality that they must release some prisoners in order to maintain the façade of responsible public service , they never have and apparently never will voluntarily do the
enlightened, progressive thing by serving their constituents rather than Mammon. It is an evil seeming eternal, for the poor we have with us always, n’est pas?
This deficit is connected to the root of bad faith——the kind willing to plunder education funding and the futures of innocent children and leave them hopeless, cynical, and prone to violent crimes of despair; where they are more likely to riot, loot, and shoot cops, then split prison guards’ skulls once in prison.
The Coffield unit is a behemoth monument to this comprehension deficit; this social failure; this bad faith. Dubbed “The House of Pain,”  it is de facto torturous by its very architecture. Built in the 60s, Coffield is comprised of massive walls of çlass. Originally envisioned as an advance on the traditional human warehousing approach, it was designed for climate—control. Its only louvre windows are located at floor level; up to about knee height. The windows open outward from the bottom, so one must get down on all fours to open or close them——a position prison guards are loath to assume.
For reasons still mysterious——the explanations lost in the steaming vapors of institutional history——the climate control units never materialized.
During summer months the walls of glazing on Coffield focus the rays of the Texas sun like a giant magnifying glass. The bars, originally baby blue in the ‘idealistic” heyday of the 60s—era humanistic impulse, were soon painted over in heat—soaking jet black——Satan himself obviously the interior decorator in the subsequent “makeover.”
In June, July, and August, particularly on the fourth tier——the very top, where all the heat collects——the bars are literally too hot to touch. A cup of water tossed on the front of one of the 3’ x 9’ cells will steam flash in evaporation. The old and the infirm do not fare well in The House of Pain. In fact, the heat wave of 98 killed so many that the TDCI was compelled to institute new heat abatement protocols which, needless to say, are ignored every summer.
The House of Pain is the largest facility in the TDCJ—CID, housing over 5000 prisoners. This in itself presents intractable problems; systemic issues which cannot be resolved——only subsumed by the tacit sacrifice of prisoners’ rights and staff safety that has all along been the lubrication to die Maschine’s kafkaesque, if highly inefficient, functioning.
(Détournements de Fonds)
The TDCJ is a bureaucracy, and we might expect a certain level of graft, embezzlement, and scandals of various types from a bureaucracy. But in the same manner that the climate control units never materialized, the Coffield unit has all along operated on Wild West principles of “Get what you can while you can, and “Do what you can get away with”——if you’re powerful or influential enough, that is.
And it is self—evident that positions of power and influence——like a warden’s job or a head of departments like Food Services of Access to Courts—— provide opportunities for self—enrichment and influence down the lines of the penitentiary pecking order.
For instance, every year a portion of the unit operational budget is allocated for seasonal expenditures -(like heat abatement measures in summer and thermal underwear in winter). In the case of heat abatement, Coffield is allocated a portion of its budget for the purchase of powerful shop fans to augment the woefully substandard ventilation retrofits.
But this summer those shop fans never materialized; nor for that matter did the insulated beverage dispensers necessary to dispense mandated ice water during the critical hours of peak heat risks. People in hell don1t just want ice water——they need it. And this summer there were three emergency Medivac flights from the Cof field unit alone (thus far)——one on August 2’nd, N and two on August 12’th (about 3:00 am and 10:00 pm). 
While unit administrators can’t seem to find funding for mandatory heat abatement measures, they can find the money for ridiculous discretionary measures like covering every square inch of my cellblock’s dayroom in $6K
worth of 3/16” galvanized sheet steel in a reflexive kneejerk CYA response to manipulations by a prisoner with his own self—serving agenda. 
While the heat strokes of prisoners and guards lacking the (window unit) air—conditioned comforts of ranking administrators nay be of little or no moment to The Master——Laissez-les mangent le gateau——this same attitude carries over into all other areas of operation. As a consequence, the taxpayers are defrauded of funds allocated for items and services not rendered——ink toner cartridges in the Access to Courts department; beverages withheld from the
prisoners (powdered milk, juice, coffee, tea) ; and indigent postage and stationary doles for impoverished prisoners pursuing rehabilitation prospects through maintaining communication with freeworld society.
La soppe u jour
(La Nausee Existentiel)
Texas prisoners are highly restricted in their dietary options. Sometimes what they’re compelled to eat sickens them.  But this can be just as true for the free poor. And with a 10% approval rating for congress, it’s obvious that what the politicians are forcing down the increasingly impoverished public’s throats is making them ill. In a word, they’re sick of it.
But there’s being sick in a metaphorical sense, and then there’s the kind of illness that is killing so many of us in here. There must be a purging.
Instrumental in inducing that purgation will be exposing the double discourse which our government conducts in its rape of the taxpayer in order to continue engorging the prison industrial complex beast. Theirs is a supreme feat of wordspell sorcery, convincing the public that our prisons are just too cushy——all the while torturing and killing us in increasing numbers- They are consumate warlocks of darkness in that regard; illusionist masters of reality——enemies of freedom and mankind. Indeed, Dubya called his administrative style and philosophy “creating reality.” C’est a vomir!
La Pièce de Resistance
(La Corruption Systemique)
To describe all the particulars of the twisted dynamics and personae in the TDCJ—CID is beyond the scope of this piece, but anyone who has been alive long enough to know what evil lurks within the hearts of men knows—— like The Shadow—its amorphous, shifty pathos.
One aspect that is readily sketched is the tin horn hubris that generates most of the hate and violence in here.
With the successful sabotage and disgraceful end of the Ruiz prisoner class action lawsuit,  the egomaniacs in charge of these vestigial plantations found room once more to swell beyond all measure. Like Pharoah of Caesar in apotheosis, they do not——as a general rule——see themselves as public servants under color of state law, but rather, as The Law.
A prime example of this ego—inflation is the Coffield unit’s administrative segregation facility——again, hands down, the largest in the system. It is ostensibly governed by The New Ad—Seg Plan, but not only does the plan not govern, it is actually an only slightly disguised operant conditioning  module that employs physical and psychic violence to Induce mental tractability in the government’s aims at destroying the prisoners’ self—image as one basically and intrinsically worthy, if admittedly flawed, and displacing them from their roles as protagonists in their own life narratives and into the antagonist role of ‘Offender.” 
What results is a sadistically gleeful return to hot/cold cells, bread and water diets, long-term seclusion in darkened isolation “holes,” and the destruction of parole hopes by conscienceless sociopaths wearing grey Confederate soldier uniforms and who think nothing of retaliatory disciplinary report fabrications for those who would protest their oppression. It is a world where law enforcement at both the state and federal level continue to turn blind eyes——justice really is blind I——to the abuses and avoidable deaths; be they homicides, suicides, or of “natural causes” like heat stroke.
Though not said openly, all of this is what constitutes the bouyancy of staff “morale,” My guard so unwise as to insist upon honoring the trite byword of “firm but fair” is labeled “an offender lover”——or worse (by plugging in the N—word).
Such is the anatomy of an institutional culture where none dare comment upon the emperor’s new clothes. “Meet the new boss——same as the old boss.” Plus ca change…
Unfortunately, in an era when slogans like “Change has come,” “Si se pueden,” and ‘Government transparency” are au courant, the Texas government
vigorously enforces laws that make insightful penetrations into the darkened inner recesses of this dungeon practically impossible.  Not much has changed since 1972. 
Systemic dysfunction within TDCJ—CID can in large part be traced to particular events of the past; most notably the 1999 slaying of McConnell unit prison guard and local AFSCME  leader, Daniel Nagle. In a word, the guards are
still retrenched from their political losses in the ensuing battle with then Texas governor 2t0 tem, Rick Perry. Prohibited by law from striking——and acting on unofficial instructions from fellow AFSCME members—guards simply sabotaged operations where they could, and tried to capitalize upon the expected fallout where they would.
Sadly, they found themselves almost as marginalized and excluded from public voice and forum as the prisoners under heel; and thus, their strategy died a slow death of attrition, while their tactics remain in place to this very day.
Then, as now, warning from the insightful went unheeded. Then, as now, Texas had a governor with his eye on the Oval Office; one of The Elect, and a forerunner “called by God’ to lead us back into paths of regressiveness for his own name’s sake. Then, as now, we were deeply entrenched in a desperate, undeclared culture war waged in euphemistic terms discernible only to the astute (or the initiated insider provided the keys for unlocking slogans like “compassionate conservatism’ [welfare euthanasia], “preemptive warfare” [the 1% doctrine], and “enhanced interrogation techniques” [tortures like “water— boarding ” aka Chinese water torture; and, “situational stressors;” aka The Rack and The Wheel.) This, in sober terms, is postmodern dialectical casuistry.
Underlying all of this devilish doubletalk are the hardcore realities of the bad faith incentivization of prison industrial complex growth, a false flag “war on drugs/crime/terror/poor/etc.,” and the systematic deconstruction of the civil rights corpus juris. In the space of a single decade the neocon —a linguistic conflation of the words neo—nazi and conman?——war machine rode over the Bill of Rights like a crushing Abrams tank. There was nothing new and nothing conservative about it.
How did this happen? How is it possible?
First came the callow cooperation of the mainstream media. As Propaganda 101 it is a separate subject altogether, but suffice it to say that while we have seen mea culpae for having helped this same cabal commit crimes against humanity by beating the war drum for the petroleum pimps and their bedfellow war pigs in the industrial military complex, we have not seen Mike Wallace et alia apologising for their career—long complicity in the engorgement of the prison industrial complex behemoth with the souls of two and a half million Americans. How’s that for patriotism?
Secondly, lead by the U.S. Supreme Court, the judiciary had to perform some fiendishly clever legal legerdemain, redefining the words civil right into Orwellian Newspeak, such that what was formerly vouchsafed under the enumerated amendments to the U.S. Constitution are now treated as privileges  to be extended or retracted at The Master’s good pleasure——Bill of Rights be damned.
And thirdly, the civil rights advocacy network had to be dismantled, defunded, and eviscerated, and habeas corpus destroyed. Enter the PLEA,  the
AEDPA  and the PATRIOT acts . How about that patriotism?!
(Le sel de cuisine)
There is much chatter among the commentariat that the present near—zero— growth American CDP is not just the end of empire for the U.S., but the new norm, and quite possibly the nascence of Sino—lndian hegemony.
But regardless of the ultimate outcome of the ongoing brinksmanship over the credit crisis and the economy, there truly is no going back. For what we are witnessing is American bad faith made manifest; the “full faith and credit” of Uncle Sam in serious question. And it is a potent indication of what the Chinese are calling our ‘accelerated decline.”
Fyodor Dostoyevsky, himself one of the greatest ever witnesses to the human condition, instructed us that the health of a nation can be assessed by a study of the conditions of its universities, and its prisons——one a psychoanalysis; the other a stool sample. It is a diagnostic technique to test for symptoms of the Shit—For—I3rains Disease; where one has fecal matter mixed in the brain matter, and vice versa, and one is “Ate up with the Dumb Ass.”
Our prisons are, of course, shameful barbarisms unbecoming of a civilized nation, and the 2010 ATC scores show 75% of college entrants woefully unprepared to commence courses and requiring major remedial tutoring. Prospects for American resurgance look decidedly dim. It appears largesse is largely a thing of the past; and for those affected most, it never was.
Et come dessert
(Laissez—les mangent is gateau)
The most immediate cause of Coffleid’s chronic dysfunction——and the one most remediable——is the staffing issue. I don’t necessarily mean staffing shortage, because that’s not the measure of it. The problem is a funding shortage. For after all, you get what you pay for, and Texas ranks near the bottom in guard pay and benefits.  (See sidebar: Le Pousse—cafe)
On the topic of costs, have you ever thought about the price of a Medivac flight? It’s every hit as expensive as you might guess——maybe more so. Well, how about three of them?
How much will it cost society in the long run to continue depriving aging prisoners necessary nutrition (calcium, vitamin I), etc.) by diverting their powdered milk? (A diversion not possible before, when real milk was still being served.) And what about curtailed cleaning supplies like bleach and disinfectants; or toothbrushes, indigent postage supplies, and law library resources? It will be ‘interesting” (in the Chinese sense) to see what happens when the TDCJ—CID has to phase out incandescent bulbs and replace them with the much more expensive yet just as breakable mercury vapor bulbs in the not too distant future; a future looking rather dark from in here.
These supplies are neither conceits, nor perks or privileges——they are necessities to avoiding expensive epidemics (like staph and hepatitis, etc.) hidden collateral costs of remedial damage control and containment, increased geriatric care and hospice expenses, and the fallout from lack of constructive, peaceful dispute resolution and redress of grievances (avoiding riots, murders, etc.).
The mechanisms for resolving these issues already exist. The problem is lack of good faith or any will toward amelioration. For instance, part of the “morale” bouyancy mentioned above is the institution’s resistance to terminating substandard personnel——so long as their substandard duty performance doesn’t negatively impact other staff, that is.
A good example of this is the recent demotion of former Coffield unit mailroom supervisor Misty Warren; an employee with a long history of prisoner complaints about her corrupt practices on record with the grievance office. She was responsible for serious “irregularities” in legal and media mail delivery records (among other things). We’re talking federal felony level mal— feascense (impeding delivery of federal court orders, for one) that would see anyone else not enjoying her privilege of pseudo—immunity not just fired, but likely facing federal criminal charges. She is still a mailroom employee as of this writing. 
Die System’s refusal to fire Warren (and others like her) stems as much from its own insularity and twisted “morale” as it does from the underlying Fast Texas nepotism network within the Region 1 units.
If the TDCJ—CID had any sincere impulse toward reform it couldn’t do any better than to remove the prisoner grievance spinmeisters from the grievance offices and begin to genuinely pursue prisoner complaints. The prisoners are the canaries in this infernal coal mine. Here on Coffield, even the most superficial investigation into the cover—ups, collusions, and conspiracies of griev—investigator #I0846 (Bennie Coleman) and his underlings would expose the corruption that continually consumes innocent, unsuspecting taxpayer cash. This same truth applies right on up the line to the regional grievance offices in the entire system.
Of course, we could follow the trail of blood and guts on through Huntsville and up into Austin, but that’s just the nature of the beast, nein?
Grover Norguist advocates shrinking the federal government to the size that it can be “drowned in the bathtub.”  (Ho doubt so that “the state” can enjoy unfettered gerrymandering and gross deregulation of environmentally destructive industry.)
I say we do a test—drowning on the Texas government——the tail still trying to wag the dog——before it gives birth to yet another semiliterate, myopic moron “called by God” to trample any— and everything that doesn’t look, walk, and talk like a rural Texas WASP.
After we drown it maybe we could stew it in our discontent. I’ve got the water running now. 
Le Pousse—cafe, Chez Rick Perry
Life is in fact a battle. Evil is insolent and strong, beauty enchanting hut rare; goodness very apt to be weak; folly very apt to be defiant; wickedness to carry the day, imbeciles to be in great places, people of sense in small, and minkind generally unhappy. But the world as it stands is no narrow illusion, no phantasm, no evil dream of the night; we wake up to it again forever and ever and we can neither forget it nor deny it nor dispense with it.
In Egypt, the king himself is not allowed to reign unless he have priestly powers; and if he should be one of those of another class, and have obtained the throne by violence, he must get enrolled in the priestcraft.
Whatever one might say of KISS frontman Gene Sinifflons, he cannot be accused of a lack of perspicacity. Aside from the fact that I am a KISS fan, I perceive his sociopolitical and business acumen to be uncanny, and therefore I pay attention to his pronouncements.
So it was with great alarm that I heard of his prognostications on Rick Perry as our next president. This set me to thinking: Dear God in heaven, we’re all imperiled!
Comparisons of Rick Perry to our blessed, beloved Dubya are already being made. And even to my native Texan ear their voices do register somewhat similar; eerily so. (Though that likely has more to do with cadence and phrasing than with timbre.)
But there is also the fact that they were both military pilots, and both had the uncouth temerity to voice crack—brained convictions that they were “called by God” to be president. (Which God is left to your speculation, but what follows might help to inform your ruminations.)
Rick Perry recently commenced his bid for the presidency by leading his own prayer meeting send—off in Houston, presiding over an estimated crowd of one hundred thousand.
As a converted Roman Catholic (formerly Southern Baptist), I monitor closely the Christian radio stations to either side on my favorite——NPR. (It is sandwiched between American Family Radio and the Bible Broadcasting Network stations in my area.)
Unfortunately, I consider those stations “christian” in name only, for I can’t help but note their lack of objectivity in their so—called “news” reporting. Put most of all, I resent their distinct lack of charity and humility in their strident——and in the case of chief bloviator, Brian Fisher, militant——moralizing. (Fisher opens his show with a bombastic prayer to Jesus, then proceeds to advocate for summary executions of Somali pirates with a bullet to the base of their skulls and to be tossed overboard, then, like Newt Gingrich, picks on Barney Frank by intentionally mispronouncing his name——bully that he obviously is.)
And so it is that I not only distance myself from this brand of so—called Christianity, but am ashamed of their stark hypocrisy; particularly that of their ‘anointed” ones——likely in the same fashion as John Ashcroft, with everyday off—the—shelf Wesson cooking oil——Michelle Bachman and Rick Perry.
Perry’s Dubya—style faux pas first caught my attention last year, when taking TDCJ prison guards to task for the armed escape of Texas prisoner Pichard Comeaux. In the context of a marked influx of Nigerian “lottery” emigrants taking up the slack in staff shortages, Perry had the no doubt divinely inspired genius to gulp that prison guard functions were so simple that he could “get monkeys from Africa” to do the job.
Admittedly, there is no smoking gun in that verbal vomitus, but smoke there certainly is; and where there’s smoke…
Consider the following matters:
First, as a public figure Perry is fair game when it comes to heightened scrutiny. So it is within acceptable bounds to ask him——especially following upon his recent unctuous, pious pronouncements in Houston——WWJD? What would Jesus do?
Would Jesus “hog tie” Ben Bernanke and “treat him ugly” down here in Texas? Perhaps next time Perry consults Jesus in his political aspirations he ought to ask The Lord what He thinks of governors who hog tie human beings. I think Jesus has reason to know a little something about that…
Secondly, and most importantly, it is said that a people get the leaders they deserve. The next guestion is: Do we deserve a leader who cherry picks data to make the vapid case against manmade climate change just to pander to a gaggle of Tea Party pollyanas? Are we really going to be taken hostage—— like the global economy——by a bunch of Brown Shirt Philistines? (Mene, Tekel, and Peres.)
Are we seeing some disturbing historical parallels here? Let us look a little closer at this writing on the wall:
Whatever your thoughts on evolution theory, the fact is that Perry stated in Iowa recently that Texas teaches creationism in its public schools. Not so. Not only is this untrue, hut it establishes Perry as yet another wealthy elitist sociopath with zero qualms about standing before crowds of hundreds of thousands and fibbing after concluding a prayer, “In Jesus holy name…
It gets worse. That very same day Perry took a page from Sarah Palm’s Gabby Punting Guide and painted a crosshairs target on Ben Pernanke’s forehead by calling him a traitor for implementing quantitative easing measures. 1st die Federal Reserve nicht gleichgeschaltete, mein Fuhrer?
And another matter: When pronouncing Bernanke a traitor, Perry committed what I consider a Jungian slip of the tongue par excellence (and as distinguished from the Freudian kind). When trying to say the word “treasonous,’ he let slip the word “treacherous.” 
As the prioneer of the word association technique——though admittedly not in general use among analytical psychologists today——Jung’s theory of the unconscious manifestation through word choice carries much weight with inc. And though I don’t and can’t know for sure, I suspect that Mr. Eernanke might not fit Perry’s WASP Weltanschauunq.
Not to get too mystical here, but I feel a fair degree of caution is in order in going forward. We might do well to keep a finger on the pulse of the Zeitgeist and the collective unconscious, and a very close eye on Rick Perry and his Tea Party Serrenvolk wannabes.
Gott mit uns, nicht wahr?