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Volume 1-2016

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ABOUT RAR: For those of you new to this site, "RAR" is Rick Alan Rice, the publisher of the RARWRITER Publishing Group websites. Use this link to visit the RAR music page, which features original music compositions and other.

Use this link to visit Rick Alan Rice's publications page, which features excerpts from novels and other.

RARADIO

(Click here)

Currently on RARadio:

"On to the Next One" by Jacqueline Van Bierk

"I See You Tiger" by Via Tania

"Lost the Plot" by Amoureux"

Bright Eyes, Black Soul" by The Lovers Key

"Cool Thing" by Sassparilla

"These Halls I Dwell" by Michael Butler

"St. Francis"by Tom Russell & Gretchen Peters, performance by Gretchen Peters and Barry Walsh; 

"Who Do You Love?"by Elizabeth Kay; 

"Rebirth"by Caterpillars; 

"Monica's Frock" by Signel-Z; 

"Natural Disasters" by Corey Landis; 

"1,000 Leather Tassels" by The Blank Tapes; 

"We Are All Stone" and "Those Machines" by Outer Minds; 

"Another Dream" by MMOSS; "Susannah" by Woolen Kits; 

Jim Morrison, Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson and other dead celebrities / news by A SECRET PARTY;

"I Miss the Day" by My Secret Island,  

"Carriers of Light" by Brendan James;

"The Last Time" by Model Stranger;

"Last Call" by Jay;

"Darkness" by Leonard Cohen; 

"Sweetbread" by Simian Mobile Disco and "Keep You" fromActress off the Chronicle movie soundtrack; 

"Goodbye to Love" from October Dawn; 

Trouble in Mind 2011 label sampler; 

Black Box Revelation Live on Minnesota Public Radio;

Apteka "Striking Violet"; 

Mikal Cronin's "Apathy" and "Get Along";

Dana deChaby's progressive rock

 

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Rick Alan Rice (RAR) Literature Page

ATWOOD - "A Toiler's Weird Odyssey of Deliverance" -AVAILABLE NOW FOR KINDLE (INCLUDING KINDLE COMPUTER APPS) FROM AMAZON.COM. Use this link.

CCJ Publisher Rick Alan Rice dissects the building of America in a trilogy of novels collectively calledATWOOD. Book One explores the development of the American West through the lens of public policy, land planning, municipal development, and governance as it played out in one of the new counties of Kansas in the latter half of the 19th Century. The novel focuses on the religious and cultural traditions that imbued the American Midwest with a special character that continues to have a profound effect on American politics to this day. Book One creates an understanding about America's cultural foundations that is further explored in books two and three that further trace the historical-cultural-spiritual development of one isolated county on the Great Plains that stands as an icon in the development of a certain brand of American character. That's the serious stuff viewed from high altitude. The story itself gets down and dirty with the supernatural, which in ATWOOD - A Toiler's Weird Odyssey of Deliveranceis the outfall of misfires in human interactions, from the monumental to the sublime. The book features the epic poem "The Toiler" as well as artwork by New Mexico artist Richard Padilla.

Elmore Leonard Meets Larry McMurtry

Western Crime Novel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am offering another novel through Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing service. Cooksin is the story of a criminal syndicate that sets its sights on a ranching/farming community in Weld County, Colorado, 1950. The perpetrators of the criminal enterprise steal farm equipment, slaughter cattle, and rob the personal property of individuals whose assets have been inventoried in advance and distributed through a vast system of illegal commerce.

It is a ripping good yarn, filled with suspense and intrigue. This was designed intentionally to pay homage to the type of creative works being produced in 1950, when the story is set. Richard Padilla has done his usually brilliant work in capturing the look and feel of a certain type of crime fiction being produced in that era. The whole thing has the feel of those black & white films you see on Turner Movie Classics, and the writing will remind you a little of Elmore Leonard, whose earliest works were westerns. Use this link.

 

EXPLORE THE KINDLE BOOK LIBRARY

If you have not explored the books available from Amazon.com's Kindle Publishing division you would do yourself a favor to do so. You will find classic literature there, as well as tons of privately published books of every kind. A lot of it is awful, like a lot of traditionally published books are awful, but some are truly classics. You can get the entire collection of Shakespeare's works for two bucks.

You do not need to buy a Kindle to take advantage of this low-cost library. Use this link to go to an Amazon.com page from which you can download for free a Kindle App for your computer, tablet, or phone.

Amazon is the largest, but far from the only digital publisher. You can find similar treasure troves atNOOK Press (the Barnes & Noble site), Lulu, and others.


 

 

 

 

FEATURED ARTIST  

Welcome to the Links at RARWRITER Featured Artist page.  

The Links brings you a feature this week of  timely urgency regarding issues of capital punishment that speak to the heart of the American Justice system. This involves the Supreme Court's hearing arguments on April 18 in the case of Panetti v. Quarterman. At issue is  whether the State of Texas can carry out the death sentence of a man whose lawyers say is not competent to understand that he is being executed for murders he knows he committed. The man is Scott Panetti, diagnosed mentally ill with "schizoaffective disorder." The feature is on his sister Vikki Panetti, the L.A.-based rock singer who has worked tirelessly in her brother's defense and who, in doing so, has become an articulate spokesperson for the causes of Amnesty International.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

VIKKI PANETTI - SHEMONSTER and the Battle for Scott Panetti's Life

"I'm a democrat. All the men on my father's side of my family are veterans. I think I should have been the first woman (in the Panetti family to enlist). I chose college though (instead of the service) and liked my government class a lot. My parents are members of the VFW and American legion. I always attended Memorial Services for veterans all my life. Memorial and Veterans Days were always important to our family. We would put flowers on all the graves yearly."

VIKKI PANETTI clicks off her American credentials as if she has to remind herself that she isn't one of those left-wing "hate America" troublemakers. She does have a beef with the government, though - at least the one in Texas. They are trying to kill her brother.

No doubt in Texas there are those who feel that Scott Panetti is in need of killing.

On the morning of September 8, 1992, Scott Panetti shaved his head, donned military fatigues, and drove to the home of Amanda and Joe Alvarado. Scott's estranged wife Sonja had fled there, to her parent's home, with her and Scott's three-year-old daughter. She was seeking refuge from his drinking and abusive behavior.

Scott entered the Alvarado home carrying a shotgun, the barrel of which had been sawed off for use at close range, and a rifle. He used the latter to shoot his mother and father-in-law to death. He then allowed his wife and daughter to leave un-harmed, as "Sarge" had instructed. 

Sarge was the voice that had taken up residence inside his head, that told him he could kill these people without causing them pain, because divine intervention ensured that they would not suffer. As Scott left the house, however, demons laughed at him. Maybe he had been tricked. Later that afternoon he dressed himself in a suit and turned himself into the police for the crime of murder.

"Every Sunday I would find my father watching the 'News with David Brinkley' and I would watch it with him..."

Vikki Panetti continues to recount the way she grew up, to recall normalcy.

"I also liked the news and would watch it with my parents. When I was in high school I was elected 'Badger Girl' in Wisconsin at my high school. (Mind you the U of Wisconsin Badgers) So I was given a trip to Madison which is the capital to participate in a fake government made up of other female students, to see how it all works. I learned a lot and was elected lieutenant governor by my peers..."

It must seem disorienting for her that all this time later her early grounding in American values, and her early education in American governmental systems would lead to where she is now. As the highest profile member of the tightly-knit Panetti family, outside of the ignominy of her brother Scott, it has fallen upon Vikki to somehow mate her creative calling in L.A., the land of make believe, with her all-too-real role as lobbyist for her brother's life. She will be in Washington D.C. this week for the Supreme Court date.

Vikki has dedicated herself to this dual role with extraordinary ferocity, using appearances by her band "Shemonster" as media events to rally support for Scott's cause, and speaking at Amnesty International conferences on the uncertain state of American justice, and the deplorable use of capital punishment at a time when breakthroughs in DNA analysis are revealing troubling issues in the continued use of the ultimate punishment.

Justice Goes to the Circus

The Scott Panetti case, while cut-and-dry as a case of murder, surfaces many problems with the U.S. justice system's capacity for mounting an appropriate response for an egregious act committed by a mentally ill individual. The justice system stumbled over Panetti from the first.

His initial competency hearing, in July 1994, yielded nothing. It was declared a mistrial, the jury unable to reach a verdict on exactly where Scott Panetti was in his thinking. Did he have sufficient mental capacity to understand his situation and to assist in his defense? What they knew of Scott was that he understood what he had done and what the court said he was being tried for, but they also knew that Scott suspected that the court had ulterior motives. He seemed to believe the justice system wanted to execute him for preaching the Gospel.

In September 1994 a second competency hearing was held. It was two years after the crime and Scott's lawyer testified that in the two years leading up to this second hearing he had no useful communication with Scott Panetti because he found Scott "delusional." He called a psychiatrist who testified that Scott was not competent to stand trial. The prosecution called a psychiatrist who testified in agreement with a diagnosis of schizophrenia, and allowed that Scott Panetti's delusional thinking "could interfere with his communications with his legal counsel, particularly under situations of stress such as in a courtroom." However, he concluded that the defendant was competent to stand trial; in essence, that Scott was crazy, but smart. The jury agreed and the murder case against Scott Panetti moved forward.

Whether delusional, or wiley as a fox, Scott's next move only further made people wonder who is this guy? He waived his right to counsel, and when the case went to trial in September 1995 Scott was there acting in his own defense - dressed as a cowboy. In an affidavit written by a lawyer who was appointed as Scott's stand-by counsel, he wrote that Scott dressed in a costume "like an old TV western", including cowboy hat, trousers tucked into his cowboy boots, and cowboy shirt. The lawyer added that Scott Panetti had "wanted to subpoena Jesus Christ, JFK, actors, actresses, and people who had died... This was not a case for the death penalty..."

Scott's personal presentation and rambling discourse led witnesses to describe the trial as a "farce," a "joke," a "circus" and a "mockery." A psychiatrist who had treated Scott for his mental illness was quoted as saying, "My God. How in the world can our legal system allow an insane man to defend himself? How can this be just?'" Another doctor, who had treated Scott Panetti for schizophrenia in 1986 - six years before the murders - concluded that Scott was "acting out a role of an attorney as a facet of the mental illness, not a rational decision to represent himself."

Incredibly, the judge in the case made no effort to stop it. An attorney who was called by Scott Panetti as a witness, recalls - "The  judge just seemed to let Scott run free with his irrational questions and courtroom antics."

After the jury found Scott guilty and eligible for the death sentence, interviews with juries revealed that they voted for the death penalty "out of their fear of his irrational behavior at the trial. In Texas a jury can only vote
for death if they decide that the defendant will pose a future danger to society if allowed to live."

In other words, they voted to execute because Scott scared them.

Shemonster

RAR asked Vikki Panetti once if she wasn't concerned that choosing the name "Shemonster" for her act, and then being so closely associated with her brother's horrendous crime and bizarre legal case, wasn't inviting some degree of incrimination, possibly even charges of exploitation. "No, it's just a stage persona, like Alice Cooper or Kiss," she said. Those acts, on the other hand, are pure theater, mounted for the purpose of creating a faux reality, an alternate truth. They don't typically weave grinding life stories into their messages, if they have messages at all; not like Vikki does in her songs, like "Death By Texas." Shemonster to Vikki is all about channeling the rage inside, finding that inner self and being strong, focused and devastating.

Doing Time

Scott Panetti has been living in the state of Texas  Huntsville/Livingston "Prison-City" complex since 1995. He is on Death Row in the Polunsky Unit, which is in Livingston. Inmates there live in total isolation.

A psychiatrist who evaluated Scott Panetti in 1997 concluded that he suffers from schizoaffective disorder (a combination of schizophrenia and manic depression). This expert added that Panetti's "decision to waive his own counsel was under the influence of persecutory delusions, and his ability to represent himself in court was substantially impaired by disturbances in his thought processes." The psychiatrist further concluded that Panetti had not been competent to stand trial.

Mental health reports state that although Scott has the “cognitive functionality to communicate coherently much of the time,” he suffers from “grandiosity and a delusional belief system in which he believes himself to be
persecuted for his religious activities and beliefs.”

In 1999, Scott's former wife, Sonja Alvarado, the daughter of the murdered couple, signed an affidavit in which she said : "I know now that Scott is mentally ill and should not be put to death."

Pressure Mounts Internationally and in the Courts

The United Nations Commission for Human Rights has repeatedly called on countries which still use the death penalty not to use it against anyone suffering from a mental disorder. The execution of the insane - those who do not understand the reason for, or reality of their impending punishment - is unconstitutional in the USA, under the 1986 US Supreme Court decision, Ford v Wainwright. This has not prevented numerous mentally ill prisoners from being executed. Scott Panetti's lawyer has initiated a Ford claim, but a trial-level court dismissed the claim without holding a hearing. The case has worked its way through District Court, where a decision held that "Panetti knows he committed the murders and  that he will be executed, and that the reason the state has given for the execution is the commission of the murders."

Scott Panetti continues in the belief that although the state is purportedly executing him for his crime, its real motivation is to punish him for his religious preachings. The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court, holding that the Eighth Amendment does not require Panetti to have a “rational understanding,” only to have an “awareness.” The two standards, the court held, are not synonymous and the district court’s findings are sufficient to establish his competence to be executed.

The reference to “awareness” comes from Ford v. Wainwright, which set the standard at whether the defendant “had the mental capacity to understand the nature of the death penalty and the reasons why it was imposed on him.” Supreme Court Justice Powell wrote "…I would hold that the Eighth Amendment forbids the execution only of those who are unaware of the punishment they are about to suffer and why they are to suffer it.”

The question to the high court as posed in Panetti’s brief is: “[d]oes the Eighth Amendment permit the execution of a death row inmate who has a factual awareness of the reason for his execution but who, because of severe mental illness, has a delusional belief as to why the State is executing him, and thus does not understand that his execution is intended to seek retribution for his capital crime?”

In their Amici Curiae Brief in Panetti, the American Psychological Association, the American Psychiatric Association, and the National Alliance on Mental Illness make a cogent plea: “Scientific knowledge about schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder supports the conclusion that persons in Panetti’s condition cannot rationally understand the reasons for their execution. Convinced of the reality of their delusions, they simply cannot grasp the essential truth: that their impending execution is retribution for their crimes.”

The Scott Panetti case has been championed by concerned public citizens such as actors Mike Farrell and Susan Sarandon, and activist-Nun Sister Helen Prejean.
For more information on the Scott Panetti case, visit the Rap'n Rock the Death Clock site at http://www.rapnrockthedeathclock.com/.

Foreboding Signs

The Supreme Court in the George W. Bush years has not been inclined to intervene and overturn lower court rulings, even in cases as compelling as Panetti's. The court heard a similar case a few years back involving  James Blake Colburn, who had a history of chronic paranoid schizophrenia, sat through his trial heavily sedated with Haldol, and was clearly unable to participate in his own defense. The high court refused to hear the case and Texas executed Colburn in 2003.

In a 5-4 decision in Kansas v. Marsh in 2006, the high court reversed a Kansas Supreme Court decision, holding that the Kansas capital sentencing statute is constitutional, clearing the way for the execution of a mentally impaired man. In Ayers v. Belmontes, another 5-4 decision, the court upheld a death penalty conviction from California. 

The current makeup of the U.S. Supreme Court splits philosophically this way: the "liberals" Stevens, Souter, Breyer, and Ginsburg are outnumbered by the conservative coalition of Kennedy, Scalia, Thomas, Alito, and Roberts.

We Have A Chance..

"I think we have a chance to get Scott in a secure mental hospital where he really belongs. We have hope," says Vikki Panetti, Shemonster. "Our family is Christian/Presbyterian. We put our faith in God and Jesus and try to do our best. If Scott is taken from us we know he was used to better other peoples' lives here on earth. His life is not in vain."

RAR asked Vikki what will happen if the Supreme Court refuses to intervene on Scott's behalf?  Would she be present at her brother's execution?

"Yes, I would have to be at the execution," says Vikki. "My mother said, 'I brought him into this world and I will not let him go out alone,' and I will be there for them. The Panetti family is very strong and a force to be reckoned with. The Texas Defenders Service (now working on Scott's defense) are an intelligent, aggressive group of lawyers."

"If this happens we will find out who the executioner is. Did you know they are paid to kill? Their identity is concealed. If it is so right of them to do this, why do they hide their identity? They should not be such cowards. My brother Scott is not a coward like that. Let him fight for his life gladiator style and lets see who wins. Scott would win. Scott is 6'4" and runs miles daily to survive in prison. He was special intelligence in the Navy, rode bulls in the rodeo, a cowboy, won contests hunting deer and turkey his whole life. Yet he is an accomplished artist and a cowboy poet with works produced in print...

"The death penalty is really barbaric if you think about it. They strap inmates down on a table and inject them with a needle; that's cowardly and makes the Texas government look weak. Also it IS NOT PAINLESS. The chemicals used paralyze and then burn up the insides of a human body. It is a LIE when they say it is not cruel and unusual punishment. Texas goes completely against our U S constitution!! 

"It still amazes me to this day how they get away with that....with murder," says Vikki.

 

Since executions resumed in the USA in 1977, 887 prisoners have been put to death nationwide, 314 of them in Texas.*
In 2005, (Texas) Governor Rick Perry appointed a Criminal Justice Advisory Commission to review the issues. But to date, executions have not halted;

Texas has already executed 11 individuals in 2007, and 10 more executions are scheduled through August.

 

 

 

 

 

 

LEFT: Scott Panetti's hand-drawn book of cowboy poetry, Ranahan's Bunkhouse Savvy.

 

 

 

* Figure probably out of date. Sources for this article include "Supreme Court Preview: The Death Penalty in Texas by Ana M. Otero, Associate Professor of Law, Texas Southern University" and other documents available through the Save Scott Panetti site.

 

POSTSCRIPT: From the July 1 Edition of RARWRITER.com, Artist News

 

 

 

Supreme Court Blocks the Execution of Mentally Ill Scott Panetti

In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court this week blocked the execution of Scott Panetti. Panetti, who is convicted of murdering his in-laws in 1992, is on Death Row in Texas. He was scheduled for execution in 2003 but has successfully used the appeals process in an effort to be spared under a 1976 court ruling that it is unconstitutional to execute an insane prisoner. Panetti has been diagnosed as schizophrenic. Supporting his case is an apparent disconnect in Panetti's understanding of the state's reason for wanting to execute him. While he understands that he was convicted of murdering his father- and mother-in-law, he insists the state's real reason is to prevent him from preaching the gospel. The court decision is expected to make it easier in the future for mentally ill condemned prisoners to contest their death sentences.  On a personal level, it is a tremendous victory for Scott Panetti's family, including his sister Vikki, who has campaigned tirelessly to bring attention to Scott's case. The story is told in an April RARWRITER.com feature on "Shemonster," Vikki Panetti.

 

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©Rick Alan Rice (RAR), July, 2016

 

 

   

 

 

  ARTIST NEWS    THIS EDITION   ABOUT   MUSIC   MUSIC REVIEWS  BOOKS  CINEMA   FASHION   FINE ARTS  FEATURES   SERIES  MEDIA  ESSAY  RESOURCES  WRITTEN ARTS POETRY  CONTACT  ARCHIVES  MUSIC LINKS

Copyright © July, 2016 Rick Alan Rice (RARWRITER)