Randy Halprin

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July 2016

Randys Journals

July 27, 2016
Another wet and grey day...
Here's something terrifying to think about. According to the polling site site 538 run by Nate Silver, one of the country's best pollsters whom, I believe had something like 49 out of 50 states correct in the 2012 elections, anyways...he has Trump and Hillary 269 to 269 U.S. electorates a virtual dead heat if the elections were held today. That is freaking scary and for those who think it is impossible for Trump to win think about those numbers...Please take this seriously. Please.

Anyways, I didn't want to start the entry off like that today, but I just heard that data on the news.

I listened to Bill Clinton's speech last night at the DNC and think he did a bang up job of really humanizing Hillary. He went through her history and all of the good she's actually done. Look, would I prefer Bernie and do I think that Bernie would've been a better candidate and would've handily beat Trump ? I really think he would/could, but one cannot take away from Hillary's career and how much she has fought. She might be part of the system and she knows the system...but I'll say it again, if progressives give her their vote just hold her and the democratic party accountable. You have that ability and power. She'll owe that to you guys. Just don't give it to Trump. Don't not vote or do a protest vote for him. It is like knowing a hurricane is on the way and being indifferent to it. "Eh...I may be the mayor of the town and can save my citizens but you know, I'm pissed off at 'em so fuck it. If it tears shit up, it tears shit up".

Day 9 of the lockdown and one of the guards said they're on A pod wrapping up the shakedown for the building. I don't know if that means it will end for us tomorrow or they'll just wait until next week, because if I understand it correctly, they're supposed to shakedown 10 building (the medical building) and 11 building, which is general population transit and pre-hearing detention, where they lock people up if they get into a fight or any other serious infraction that requires them attending a sort of kangaroo court hearing. Though, doesn't pre-hearing detention sound a lot like "Guantanomo bay ?" So, we'll see. I'd be surprised if they let us up before next Monday if only because I've heard several guards say it was a 14 day lockdown.

July 26, 2016
Woke up this morning and it was quite cool. A much needed break from the record we've been having for the past couple of weeks. We had a thunder storm move in yesterday afternoon. It was quite surreal. I was waiting anxiously for the shakedown, as the guards were in the next section over doing there thing and we all knew it was getting close to shift change so the question on our mind was, are they going to get us before they leave ? Maybe leave the other three sections remaining for 2nd shift or just leave until Tuesday. We already had our things packed up in the red property crate, cells cleaned and ready to go...And so I stood on my bunk staring out in the distance as clouds as dark as coal rolled in. Lightning began to flash all over the place. One bolt, while a few miles away seemed to come crashing down right in front of my eyes because the thunder clap was a split second after the strike. It scared the living crap out of me and I jumped. I had a flash back to when I was back in Kentucky one summer attending summer school. Me and my friend, Wayne had been doing something in the gym when a storm broke out. The adult supervisors told everyone to return to their dorms and so we left the gym and took off running through the rain. A bolt of lightning came barreling down right in front of us on the street. We both dived to opposite sides and were yelling "Holy shit did you see that !!!" We were shaking and scared to death. We were shaking for an hour after that and then like young teenagers do, thought it was the funniest thing in the world.
So, I watched the storm until 2nd shift came on and about ten minutes after shift change a swarm of guards came pouring into our section to finish the shakedown. I will say this: compared to the last shakedown where I lost some pictures and letters, this was painless. I lost only a pair of shoe leaces that I use for a clothes line and that is it. I had left an empty eye drop bottle on my desk as an offering and they didn't even take that from me. When I was returning to my cell I was fully expecting to see my property strewn across the cell as a common practice for the guards, but instead everything was neatly stacked on my bed. We should be good to go for another 90 days or so. Yay.

The rest of the evening I listened to NPR's coverage of the DNC convention and I think it went pretty well. You had some die hard Bernie or Bust supporters who were constantly booing everyone, but I think Sarah Silverman, a Bernie supporter herself said it best: "to all of you Bernie or Bust people...you're being ridiculous". That needed to be said.
I think Elisabeth Warren gave a rousing speech and I think Bernie made a case as to why his supporters should get behind Hillary. I think he did a good job and given the current circumstances, I think he was probably successful in converting some to a pragmatic logic in supporting Hillary. I also liked that he basically said, "Look, the revolution doesn't stop here...hold these people accountable". And that needed to be said. But by far the best speech of the night was Michelle Obama...It was honest, personal and emotional. She talked about her husband's election in a historical context and said we're at a moment in history to do it again by electing a woman to office. And I think she's right. Whatever reservations you have about Hillary's character, it is way past time to have a woman in the White House. I'm telling you right now...You're going to see Hillary tear Trump apart in debates. He doesn't stand a chance. Insults vs. solutions. I wouldn't be surprised if it goes down as the most watched debate in U.S. history. Bring. It. On. But please Hillary, don't be glib. That would be her worst mistake - to go in cocky and gleeful.

I'm not really sure what I'm going to do for the rest of the day. I need to do some reading (working my way through some Faulkner classics right now) and listen to a two hour special of the "classic club hour". I'm telling you, if you're into new wave, 80's/90's modern rock...that is where it's at. You can listen KPFT.ORG on Tuesdays at 2p.m. central time. And if you like it, please donate to the station because they are a community station and it is the only way prisoners like me can get some good music because mainstream radio stations suck. Keep it going. I should add that on the last Tuesday of each month the DJ does a full two hours of classic club.


July 25, 2016
I'm back ! Well, actually I have no idea when this will be posted but the goal is to have a new and improved site and outlet to be able to post these. Much thanks to those who have patiently waited and for my friends who are helping me get back on my feet.

So, here's a recap of what happened: back in April an anti-social media policy was inacted by prison officials. The policy, known as "rule #4" was written in an arbitrary and vague way and no one really knew how to apply or even interpret the policy. Inquiries were made and there was some push back from free speech proponents and prison reform activists and a clearer definition was given. There are still some questions left unanswered but for now websites are allowed.

As I write this we're currently on lockdown. Day 7 to be exact. Death Row is placed on lockdown four times a year due to a cell phone scandal, in which a death row inmate was able to obtain and threaten a Texas State Senator with a cell phone. Ever since we've gone through these lockdowns so that officials can "shakedown" each cell individually for contraband. Though, it has been many years since they've found anything "dangerous". It is mostly junk like homemade speakersor "fishing lines", strings used to pass books or food. But even though it is a minor nuisance, I really don't mind the lockdowns if only because they offer a rare week or two of peace and quiet because everything is shut down.

I've been going back and forth on what I wanted my first journal to be about when I returned to writing. I decided that there is no topic more important than the coming U.S. elections in November. There's been a lot on my mind and I simply wanted to make the case to those people on the left who are unsure of giving their vote to Hillary or any democrat for that matter. Especially in light of recent leaked emails from the Democratic National Committee that shows it favored Hillary Clinton when the job of the DNC is to ensure that all running have a smooth campaign and nothing obstructs that. They're supposed to remain politically agnostic during the process.
As a Bernie supporter myself I was upset that this happened but in the world of politics while my heart was with Bernie and his policies, my brain is with Hillary. I don't think that we on the left can be upset until we're willing to get involved on a local level. It is the only way that you can begin to change or morph a behemoth like the democratic party. This is something that tea party republicans figured out and have been consistently successful with in primaries and elections. Until we begin to mobilize and get involved, not just get involved, but actually turn out to vote (especially on mid-term elections) can we expect change.

I have a huge problem with "Bernie or Bust" supporters for this reason: it is incredibly short sighted and dangerous. Votes have real world consequences. Just look at the Brexit vote. I don't know how many reports I listened to on BBC after the votes were tallied and the results were in that many voters didn't take the process seriously. They were giving "protest votes" in favor of Brexit without thinking about the consequences that followed. When voters decided to leave the EU, some of those voters who voted to leave said "I didn't think my vote was going to count. I didn't really WANT this..." What did you expect to happen ?

Look, I don't completely line up with Hillary on every issue. But I'm pragmatic in knowing that if we are to protect certain institutions that have been in place since FDR she's the only choice. But even more important: WE HAVE TO PROTECT THE SUPREME COURT. The right understands fully that the only way they can end those institutions is by stacking the courts with Justices that support their regressive views. Trump said it himself in his nomination acceptance speech on 7/21/16..."I promise to put people in the Supreme Court who are constitutional Originalists like the wonderful Scalia" to paraphrase. Do you know what an originalist is ? A person that believes that the constitution written in the EIGHTEEN CENTURY is the constitution we should be living by now in the 21st century. They do not see it as a living, breathing, growing document. Is that how you want to live ? Women's rights...gone ! Gay rights...gone ! Health care...gone ! Corporate regulations...gone ! You don't change an institution by burning it to the ground because you might not like what rises from the ashes. Stop fucking thinking idealistically and think pragmatically. Get involved in the process, don't tear it down.
The right's arguement for change is that America is in decline, that "we've lost our way". I would beg to differ. I think the idea of America is a progressive one and while there's this false narrative that everything has always been picnics and lemonade for our country, we've been able to consistently push beyond those darker moments in our history. I'm always amazed when people say we should "take our country back" ! Back to what ? Genocide ? Slavery ? Racism ? What was so great about all of that ? I think a lot of people carry a willful ignorance of our past, but that is what is so great with progressive thinking. It is about: how can we move beyond that ? How can we grow as a nation and ensure that everyone has a chance.
I'm always amazed at how certain political associations cry out that they want a leader who is going to uphold and protect the constitution and yet they themselves are not capable of applying those constitutional standards to everyone equally. They pick and choose what parts of the constitution they feel best apply to their cause. You can interpret the constitution differently. I have no issue with that as I feel an amendment like the 2nd amendment has a different meaning than what has taken over a as the mainstream interpretation (thank you NRA...). But when it comes to things like an elected official having to pass a religious test...Well, that conviently gets thrown to the wayside.

I guess my point in all of this is: what America do you really believe in ? I think there are stark differences. Your vote comes with consequences. One other point I'd like to make that goes back to something my dad told me before I was about to turn 18. He encouraged me to take advantage of my right to vote. He said "Randy, when you turn 18 don't complain to me about how the country is going if you don't vote. You lose your right to complain if you don't vote". Don't complain about the system being broken if you're unwilling to vote and then hold the politicians you do elect accountable."


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