Monday, August 31, 2009

The Existence of Two Sets of Rules:
One for Police and One for Everyone Else

JusticeThe existence of the separate set of rules is one indication that you are living in a police state. Peer-to-Peer Accountability - FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, August 2009

I suppose I should view this article as a sign of hope. At least someone in law enforcement is recognizing that there is a problem in the ranks. The "thin blue line" really does exist. But they don't address the "is it good or bad for society," they are only interested in its impact on the organizations.
Those entering the law enforcement profession bring their traditions, faiths, and ethical and moral compasses. While assimilating into the culture, they exchange their individual identities for that of team members. They wear uniforms, often attend an academy away from their families and homes, and may be treated as new recruits who lack value until becoming sworn members of the force. As training continues, they are inculcated into the culture of their department and the profession. If officers lack a strong personal, traditional, or ethical basis, the custom of the department supplants theirs and becomes their core value. In this instance, the thin blue line is created.

With the advent of modern policing and the visible arena in which law enforcement now functions, the issue of ethical decision making has risen to the forefront. Several high-profile cases have garnered national attention and made the actions of law enforcement officers come into question and focus. One such incident involved presumably ethical officers not speaking up or not preventing a peer from seriously injuring a handcuffed suspect. When such a gross violation occurs and no one intervenes, it is not surprising that some officers let the minor transgressions go unaddressed. “The bottom line is, sometimes we cover for each other. For most of us, there is the realization that what happened was wrong. We see our behavior as a setback, not a victory. We analyze what went wrong and try to fix it before it happens again. But, no matter how we feel or what we believe, we are judged by our actions, not our intentions, and the costs can be horrendous. When confronted with video camera footage or audio recordings, the code becomes a trap and the first cop to tell the truth is usually the only one to escape permanent damage.”
But the authors don't even see the extent of the problem. They don't see, as the old saying goes, that the problem begins when the camel's nose first gets under the tent, not when the whole animal is inside. When cops are not chastised for minor violations, why should they not move on to bigger violations? "If you give a mouse a cookie, he's gonna want a glass of milk."

The first scenario they discuss is telling. Two cops are handing out traffic citations around a school for violations of the school zone speed limit, until they stop a fellow officer and don't hand out a citation. Everybody got tickets except the cop. He could drive 40 MPH through a 25 MPG zone with no ticket, only a verbal (no-record?) warning. The authors think this is probably OK.
Does the public, moreover, the law enforcement agency itself, really expect its officers to cite off-duty ones for minor traffic violations? How might that affect esprit de corps among those sworn to protect not just the public but also each other?
No, I don't EXPECT them too. It isn't because I am worried about the esprit de corps of the officers. I don't expect them too because I know cops let cops slide on all kinds of things.

But I do believe the cop in this scenario should receive a ticket. If they handed out to the first 12 citizens to break that law, why did they change the policy for the 13th citizen? Because cops get special privileges? Because cops don't have to obey the (traffic) law?

police scofflawsNow there is an environment where cops don't feel bound to obey the traffic laws. So parking in a bus lane (you or I would probably be towed) is no big deal. Not for an emergency, just because they can. The fact that their illegal parking ties up the street during rush hour and creates grid-lock and inconvenience is not their problem. (Did an ambulance need to get anywhere on that street during that time? I hope not.)

One would hope that doing a breathalyzer test after an accident in which alcohol is suspected would be standard procedure. Waiting four hours - presumably for the cop in question to sober up - should NOT be standard procedure. But it is only one of those pesky traffic laws after all. Not that different from going 40 through a 25 MPH zone (populated by distracted children).

A tradition of getting free coffee, morphs into cops demanding premium drinks from Starbucks. Someone will feel pulling a gun at McDonald's makes sense, because they think the service is bad. Others will try to walk-out on a bar tab.

Before you know it you are dealing with LAPD's Rampart Scandal or Chicago PD's late and unlamented Special Operations Section.

Perhaps not the most egregious violation of this nature, but not the least is the way some officers are treated regarding domestic violence. Consider the case of Drew Peterson, a former police sergeant in suburban Chicago. He is charged with the death of his 3rd wife.
The rant is about the way the Bolingbrook police force treated this guy during his third marriage. His wife, Kathleen Savio, filed for an order of protection. (Which would have stripped his guns and probably kept him from working.) She went to the emergency room as the result of beatings administered by this guy. The local police were at her home numerous times, but somehow, they never managed to file any paperwork against their brother officer
They "exercised their discretion" in the case of domestic dispute and no one (ever) was arrested. I'm sure the fact that they would have been arresting a police officer - one of their own - never entered into their decision making.

Now all these issues, and the others I have chronicled under Cops Behaving Badly, have been brought to the light of day, and some of them have seen a semblance of justice. But none of them came to the light of day with the first allegation by a civilian. In the case of situations like the Special Operations Section or Jon Burge and the Midnight Crew of Area Two, they went on for years, and impacted countless lives - in some cases innocent lives. In some cases, the preference given police officers who step over the line may have cost lives.

Now the authors of the article in the FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, admit that published instances of police receiving special preferences "erodes public trust," but they seem to see it as a public relations problem, for the corrosive affects it has on the police themselves is never mentioned. Minor traffic violations are seen as minor. They are not seen as the camel's nose getting under the tent, or the first pebble in an avalanche. Of course the authors are law enforcement officers.

The sad fact is that when many of these behaviors are brought to light, far from trying to rid their ranks of bad apples the cops - usually in the form of unions - defend them and sue for their reinstatement. So that it is difficult to remove them from duty. Are you still worried about the public trust? Are you worried at all about rogue cops?

When police officers are victims of crime, the penalties are often increased. Should the same hold true if it is the police officers who are committing the crimes? Or do you think there should be 2 sets of rules? Do you think the world should be divided into Cops and "Little People?"

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Robbers Meet Armed Resistance

Things didn't go according to plan for these two thugs. Customer Held Hostage In Holdup - Phoenix
At about 11 a.m., two armed Hispanic men entered the business at 4126 W. Indian School Road and took one customer hostage, said Sgt. Andy Hill of the Phoenix Police Department.

An employee stepped out and fired several shots at the robbers, Hill said. One of the robbers was struck and the other fled.
Folks in Phoenix should click through - there is a description of the getaway vehicle.

The Good Guys came out on top, but the Bad Guys go away. Not a happy ending.

Good Guys 2, Bad Guys 0

60-Year-Old Shoots Teen Robber - Nashville And I still would like an explanation from someone on the Left as to how a 60-year-old man is to defend himself from 2 twenty-something thugs.
The 60-year-old resident shot one of the two robbers in the chest. Later, the two robbers showed up at the Shell station on Haywood Lane in Antioch, asking for help, police said.

The wounded man claimed he had been robbed and shot during the robbery.
One thug is in the hospital, the other in jail.

Self-defense is a human right. Using tools to overcome our natural disadvantages is what humans do.

Some Searches Are Better Left Undone

Sometimes searching the news can be a fairly disturbing activity.

Two Greenacres men charged in rape of girl, 14

Juries convict men in gang rape of mother, son

City police arrest 3 men in separate gang rape cases --

Cases in which verdicts have been reached....

The Associated Press: Ex-Patriots player gets 2-year sentence for rape

Man, 23, gets 2 life terms plus 100 years in light rail kidnapping --

Jury Convicts Michael King of Rape, Kidnapping and Murder | | The Ledger | Lakeland, FL

This doesn't even scratch the surface...

TV Really Is Bad for You

It will continue until some network has to pay more in legal restitution than they make in advertising dollars. Don't hold your breath for the demise of reality TV. Did reality TV help create accused killer?
Jenkins, judging from the court record, was the perfect reality TV dating contestant -- a vain, spoiled, self-absorbed, sexually addicted millionaire who couldn't handle rejection. He appears to have had the type of personality that feeds the reality TV machine, where ratings are built on shallow men with big egos seeking materialistic trophy wives.

His self-inflicted death in a low-rent Hope motel makes him the latest in a long line of tragedies involving volatile reality "stars" who have slashed their wrists, overdosed on painkillers and committed murder either during or after their 15 minutes of fame.

Around the world, reality TV has caused humiliated contestants to either kill others or kill or injure themselves.
Two domestic violence incidents. One suicide attempt. Now he has been (posthumously) accused of murder. And he did apparently kill himself.
The fugitive Ryan Jenkins is dead, but reality TV is still on the loose, spreading its mayhem.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

So Are All Cultures Really Equal?

Even a culture of rape? South African lesbians live in fear of 'corrective rape' - Africa, World - The Independent
This is the land of "corrective rape". Despite South Africa having one of the most enlightened constitutions in the world, traditional views about sexuality still run deep. In many quarters, especially male ones, lesbians are resented, perhaps even feared. And to some young men the remedy is simple: rape.

Each year, ActionAid estimates, 500,000 women are raped in South Africa, with lesbians a particular target. The warped logic is that the assault will "cure" them. As a result, says ActionAid, 86 per cent of black lesbians live in fear of rape. Their anxiety is understandable: only a minority of rapes are reported to the police and, of these, only one in five ends up in court, with a meagre 4 per cent of them ending in a conviction.
With a 4% conviction rate and a trial that is likely another assault, I guess I can understand why so few get reported. (Or, are the cops really your friends? Maybe not.)

And of course rape sometimes spills over into murder. People kill the objects of their hate with all too much regularity.

This Guy and His Lawyer Are Insane

I think the headline says it all... Convicted Thief Sues Store He Robbed.
Zeilinski is serving an 8-22 year sentence for the robbery that happened in November of 2007. According to police and court records, Zeilinski came in wearing a mask and carrying a knife that he put to the throats of several employees, threatening to kill them before stealing cigarettes and cash. As he was leaving--reportedly still making threats--one of the young clerks grabbed a gun and shot him in the arm and back. Zeilinski's lawyer says his client is asking in excess of $125,000 for pain and suffering and emotional distress.
Those employees hi threatened with the knife should each sue him for "emotional distress."

And what kind of lawyer would take this case? The kind who doesn't want his name in print apparently.

Friday, August 28, 2009

I Can't Believe They Said "Walk With a Friend"

Only a liberal bureaucrat could say this with a straight face. University of Tampa stresses safety after student shot - St. Petersburg Times

OK, they aren't going to encourage armed self-defense - that is still illegal on college campuses in Florida. But their suggestion is incredible.
The university has held about six formal counseling sessions for faculty and students emotionally affected by the slaying, while resident advisers met with students this week to give them a safety rundown.

They reminded students to walk off campus — as well as on — with at least one friend at night.
Walk with a friend? Really. That will keep you safe?
On Aug. 19, UT student-athlete Ryan McCall, 21, and a friend walked home from the Retreat Lounge about 3 a.m. when a robber demanded money on the N Boulevard bridge and fatally shot McCall. The shooting took place off campus, a few blocks from McCall's home.
So it didn't work too well for this poor kid and his family.

Oh, and the ride on golf-carts are sure to be secure. (How long before someone steals a golf-cart I wonder.)

How about be sure to carry Mace or pepper spray, or a kubaton, stun-gun, or whatever might be legal on college campuses? No, that is too close to encouraging individual action.

"Everybody Remember Where We Parked"

Stupid criminal. He couldn't find his getaway vehicle. Scarecrow Bandit Apprehended After Botched Getaway | NBC Chicago

The aptly named scarecrow bandit...
If he only had a brain.

The suburban bank robber known as the Scarecrow Bandit was apprehended Thursday in South Elgin when, unable to find the getaway car he appropriated from a bank teller, he was apprehended on foot.
I still think the robber who used a note with his name, address and social security number is the winner in the stupid criminals contest.

Anniversary of Katrina = August 29th

While drinking coffee and flipping channels I ran across a Discovery Channel show on the event in New Orleans. I didn't see it all, but I did hear some of the 911 calls.

(Warning: this rambles and probably repeats itself at times.)

That was a Category 5 hurricane just before it weakened and turned away from NOLA and hit Mississippi. The satellite photos of the storm were astounding.

People were calling 911 in the middle of a hurricane - winds in NOLA weren't cat 4, but they still experienced major-hurricane-force-winds. (Or what do you think ripped the roof off the Super Dome?)

So against that backdrop, people were angry that 911 services were not going to come and rescue them from the rising waters.

Just for your information, if you ever disobey an "order" to evacuate, you give up the right to call 911 and have someone pull your fat out of the fire. That is really what the orders signify. And yes, I have disobeyed "orders" to evacuate in the face of hurricanes on more than one occasion. This is not something that the people of NOLA appreciated.

Anybody who stayed put in the face of an approaching Category 5 Hurricane (again Katrina was Cat 5 until just before landfall) is insane. A reasonably healthy adult can walk at least 20 miles in 1 day, given enough water. Walk. Ride a bike. Whatever. If you are faced with a disaster, be prepared to stay or get out or both - I have stayed and then bugged-out at the last minute when a storm didn't follow its predicted path. In the face of a major disaster like Katrina the only sane response is to leave.

Be aware that in the aftermath, rescuers won't usually rescue your animals. They are busy saving people, and people come before animals (sorry PETA), so get used to the idea of abandoning your pets if you have to call for assistance when it does become available. (Pets also aren't welcome at most shelters.)

And if you decide you are smart enough to ignore warnings about impending disasters from everyone including the government and stay put, then don't call 911 if you get in trouble. Lack of planning on your part, etc.

Does Green Energy Trump an Endangered Species?

Now this is what you call ironic. Prairie Chicken Mating Dance Threatens Texas Projects (Update1) -
Iberdrola SA and E.ON AG’s turbine dreams for the windswept Texas Panhandle may be stymied by the mating rituals of the lesser prairie chicken.

Wind-power developers such as E.ON are scouring sagebrush and grasslands for the presence of ground-dwelling chickens that could impede turbine construction plans.
I thought how it was all green and everything it wouldn't hit the environment so hard. Guess I was mistaken.

So how's that green energy program coming along? Damn chickens.

Absolutely no "Why did the chicken cross the road jokes?" in the comments. [Hat tip to Jeff at Alphecca]

Thursday, August 27, 2009

So You Think You Can Turn Back Time?

Age differences count for a lot when the subject of same sex marriage comes up. Statistical Modeling, Causal Inference, and Social Science: Search Results

This is an inquiry into which states would recognize same sex marriage, depending upon which age group would set policy.
If policy were set by state-by-state majorities of those 65 or older, none would allow same-sex marriage. If policy were set by those under 30, only 12 states would not allow-same-sex marriage.
It may just be that gay marriage is an idea whose time has not come. But it will arrive eventually.

Great Chance to Visit Argonne National Lab

Argonne National Laboratory Open House. In southwest suburban Chicago, this is a fascinating place. Or it was, all those years ago when I went on a tour with a group of high school science geeks.
One of the Department of Energy's oldest and largest national labs opens its doors to the public for a rare behind-the-scenes look. There'll be more than 100 demos and activities, including taking a test drive in the Advanced Powertrain Research Facility's driving simulator, racing a robot in a molecular biology speed challenge, watching nanoparticles change colors, "fun with cryogenics," and much more.
Too bad I can't get away.

Burglar Meets Armed Homeowner

Of course in the People's Republic of Illinois, they will try to charge him with something. Homeowner shoots to death teen trying to break into his house, police say
Illinois State Police Master Sgt. Dave Wasmuth said the homeowner of the Ohio Avenue house was inside working on the boarded-up building when [Michael Holmes III, 18,] and another man, whose name wasn't released, tried to break into the home.
The other burglar was arrested when he returned to the scene of the crime. (Didn't really believe people were stupid enough to do that.)

Oh, and the relatives of the dead guy don't believe it.
Pamela Forbes, Holmes' sister, was distraught as she learned about what happened.

And, she said her brother is not one to get in trouble.

"I don't believe he was trying to break in that man's house. i just don't believe that's what happened. That man just shot my brother. Why didn't he shoot the other man?" Forbes said.

Forbes said, "He shot my brother three times. He meant to kill him. If he was breaking in, why didn't he shoot him once and hold him for the police?"
Shoot him once? She has seen too many TV shows. When an armed citizen encounters a criminal making a credible threat, you don't shoot once; you shoot until the threat has been eliminated. That usually means the thug is no longer moving toward you. Three times seems reasonable to me.

(She probably thinks that police should shoot people in the leg, instead of center of mass. Mozambique drills? - 2 to the chest, 1 to the head.)

Good Guys 2, Bad Guys 0. Self-defense is a human right.

New York Hate Crime Statistics

This is actually surprising. Not that Jews suffer from hate crimes, but that the numbers are so high. State: Jews most frequent target of hate crimes |
The report found that police agencies identified 596 hate crimes throughout New York last year. Jews were targets 36 percent of the time, with blacks targeted 25 percent of the time, gay men, 11 percent, and Hispanics, 4 percent.
It seems we have a ways to go to achieve that blissful state usually referred to as the Judeo-Christian tradition. (As I've said before, the only tradition I'm aware of is that every 50 or 100 years the Christians try to exterminate the Jews.)

You know, it's funny how all of the people saying how we don't need hate crime laws to protect gays aren't out there protesting the existence of current hate-crime laws. Just saying...

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Robber Meets Concealed Carry Permit Holder

Learns the definition of self-defense. Teen tries to rob Detroiter, ends up shot by victim | The Detroit News
"The 17-year-old came up behind a 32-year-old man behind the apartment building and tried to rob him at gunpoint," Roach said. "But the 32-year-old had a CCW (a license to carry a concealed weapon), and had his own sidearm with him. He pulled his weapon and they exchanged gunfire."

When the shooting was over, the 32-year-old had only suffered a minor injury to the head, while the alleged bandit was seriously wounded. He was taken to an area hospital, where he remains in critical condition, [Detroit Police spokesman John] Roach said.
Now the Brady Bunch and that ilk, will count this a "teen tragically shot." The fact that the teen was engaged in armed robbery will not matter to them. Should this 17-year-old thug be tried as an adult, well that won't matter to theme either.

Self-defense is human right. Good Guys 1, Bad Guys 0.

Europeans Distressed That Not Everyone Is European

That seems to be, in a nutshell, what the controversy about Caster Semenya, the South African sprinter who the IAAF wants to conduct gender tests on. Inquiry About Sprinter Angers South Africans - Their evidence? Body type and secondary sexual characteristics don't conform to European standards.

And I love the attitude.
Ms. Semenya, who attends the University of Pretoria, has been described as “traumatized” by the row over her sex. But she has been suspected of being a male before. “Boys used to tease her all the time,” said her great-aunt, Martina Mpati. “Sometimes she’d have to beat them up.”
Of course, all this righteous indignation would go down a lot easier, if the South Africans didn't have a thing for attacking masculine-looking women.
Members of the 070707 Campaign acting to end homophobic Hate found that the murder and ‘corrective’ rape of black lesbians in South African townships are frequently linked to these women’s appearance. They looked too ‘butch’. They didn’t fit the norm, and therefore they must be taught a lesson or disposed of.

Caster Semenya clearly doesn’t fit the model. She chooses to present herself in a particular way that is not the way society might prefer.
And can someone please tell me why a psychological exam is called for? What will that prove? On what will it be based? (Women don't have the will to compete and win?) And will a European psychiatrist really be able to say anything definitive about a black South African from a small village? (I'm sure you psychiatrists believe you do. I am less trusting.)
Few who have studied the photographs or footage of Semenya’s famous race and its aftermath will have failed to notice her androgynous features. She has a six pack that would put any biological man to shame. Her biceps are large and powerful. She seems to have facial hair. She is strong, hugely athletic and runs like the wind.

So what is it about this image that makes us uncomfortable?

Is it perhaps that she doesn’t look like a ‘woman’, at least in the way in which we have come to accept how women are meant to appear?

This non-conformity is acceptable to a degree among the young as they body-pierce, tattoo or go punk or Goth to experiment with their gender identities.

It is less acceptable when men and women shrug off the binary classifications laid down by society, the church and often the law and take up positions that don’t fit. This makes us uncomfortable, disapproving and, at times, murderous.

If you can find a copy of Gender Blending; Confronting the Limits of Duality it is an interesting read. It chronicles the tribulations of women - mostly lesbian if memory serves - who look too masculine. It covers the grief they get in this country. In South Africa, they are often killed.

This is just another hate crime. You don't look the way “we” think you should. You don't act/love/think the way “we” think you should. That “we” being the society and its traditions.

If this was a group of rowdy youth, they would just beat her up. Because it is an international sporting organization, they are beating her up figuratively, in the press.

Can The UAW Compete with the Chinese?

So the Japanese, the Koreans and now the Chinese will be competing the US. China's BYD to bring electric cars to U.S. in 2010 | Green Tech - CNET News
The company chairman Wang Chuanfu told the Wall Street Journal that the company, which is part-owned by investor Warren Buffet, is now gearing up for a U.S. push. It plans to raise money by offering shares in the company in China to help finance the expansion.

BYD plans to offer a few hundred of one of its most advanced cars in the U.S., the five-seat e6, which takes seven to nine hours to fully charge and has a 250-mile range.
Not something for the family vacation, but should do a good job commuting.

The $40,000.00 price tag is dictated by the cost of the batteries. (Similar for the Volt.) Battery technology still has a ways to go before electric can replace some type of combustion.

But I guess the real question is if the Chevy Volt can compete with this in the long run.

Massachusetts Dems Don't Want to Risk an Election

They will say how important it is to have 2 Senators, that they can't wait for an election. Edward M. Kennedy’s roar falls on deaf ears - Funny, but giving that much power to a governor in Illinois didn't work out too good. (And before you say Blago and Burris would NEVER happen in the People's Republic of Massachusetts, I will just say that politics is pretty much the same everywhere.)
A legislative committee co-chairman overseeing a bill to hand Gov. Deval Patrick the power to appoint a temporary successor to ailing U.S. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy admitted yesterday the move is aimed at keeping a Democrat in the seat.
Just let the people decide, and don't temp the politicos with a major pay-to-play opportunity.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Government Action I Can Support

N.C. State Sen. Soles allegedly shoots intruder at home
RALEIGH — State Sen. R.C. Soles apparently shot one of two would-be intruders at his home just outside Tabor City, N.C. about 5 p.m. Sunday, the prosecutor for the politician's home county said.
Exactly how is a 74-year-old man supposed to defend himself from 2 home invaders without a firearm?

Self-defense is a human right.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Criminals Still Haven't Realized...

That Texans are armed. Clerk shoots and kills alleged robber | Houston
Police said around 6 a.m., a man walked into the store and attempted to rob the clerk.

The clerk was armed and shot at the suspect. The suspect died in the parking lot.
Self-defense is a human right. Good Guys 1, Bad Guys 0.

You Must Have Respect for the Sea

For she has none for you. Hurricane Bill blamed in deaths in Maine, Fla.

People were swept off the rocks where they were "viewing" the waves caused by Hurricane Bill.
A rope closed off a viewing platform at Thunder Hole, but hundreds watched from nearby rocks, Kaiser said. Many people didn't even move when they were splashed by the waves and instead seemed to laugh it off, he said.
A wave, larger than average, dumped people into the 55 degree water.
At Acadia National Park, the waves swept over 20 people, Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class Adam Sansoucie said. [Acadia National Park Chief Ranger Stuart] West said 11 people were taken to the hospital, mainly for broken bones after being slammed onto the rocks.
A 7-year-old girl died after being pulled out of the water.

Questions of Corruption and the Libyan Bomber's Release

Lockerbie bomber: Lord Mandelson faces new questions over Libya links - Telegraph

It seems that clout isn't something unique to political machinations of Chicago.
“The evidence is mounting that there was far more to the release of Megrahi than simply a judicial decision based on compassion,” [Edward Davey, the Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesman] said.
Friends and deals are "suggested" by various meetings with people and statements of folks on the Libyan side of the equation.

It may all mean nothing, but it seems odd to say you would release a man convicted of an act of terrorism because he was diagnosed with cancer. Does that mean cancer patients can commit acts of atrocity and never face prison? That what the ruling seems to say on the face of it. (He was sent home to die with his family.)

Saturday, August 22, 2009

This Is Not Self-defense

The media loves to paint legal self-defense as vigilantism. Well, for my money this story is one of vigiliantsm. Elderly man shoots suspect in home invasion - But that's just my opinion.

There was no imminent threat. The 4 hoodlums who committed home invasion, were no longer in the home. This guy had to go out of his way to track them down and shoot one of them. (The home-invader who got shot is now dead.)

That doesn't sound like self-defense to me.
[The homeowner] was taken into custody and police are now working with the district attorney's office to see if they are going to file charges against him.
Not where we want to be. The rule of law is a good thing, people.

Is This Justice?

JusticeEx-Chicago cop gets 2 years in tow-truck extortion scheme -- By some accounts, he had been soliciting kickbacks since the 1990s.

$600 to $800 weekly in kickbacks is a pretty good payday, if you don't mind committing blackmail, and other crimes.
U.S. District Judge John Darrah scolded Ciancio for using scare tactics to chase tow-truck drivers from accident scenes. "You threatened a false arrest -- a crime -- on a citizen ... so that you could protect the people that were paying you off," he said.
Two years? I guess it's something. I'm just not sure it's Justice.

21 Years in Prison for a Crime They Did Not Commit

Part of the "Jon Burge and the Midnight Crew From Area 2" saga.2 ex-inmates declared innocent in five murders --

Justice in Chicago?
Their case, yet another linked to disgraced former Chicago Police Cmdr. Jon Burge, was dropped after the attorney general's office determined that the evidence against the two was too thin to convict them in a new trial.

At their original trials, prosecutors relied heavily on the testimony of a jailhouse informant who claimed that Kitchen and Reeves made incriminating remarks to him about the murders of Deborah Sepulveda and her children, Rebecca, 2, and Pedro Jr., 3, and Rose Marie Rodriguez and her son, Daniel, 3.

But phone records showed that the informant's story was wrong, and prosecutors never told the defense that they had the informant released from prison early in return for his cooperation.
Cops and prosecutors rewarded for convictions won't always be concerned with Justice. Convictions at all costs? Even sending innocent men to jail?

That's Just Wrong

Alligator Removed From the Chicago River | NBC Chicago Alligators don't belong in Chicago!
We’re not sure where the gator came from, but we suspect it’s one of those mythic sewer gators that found its way to daylight.
A 2-to-4 foot gator isn't anything to sneeze at... they do grow up. (Assuming it could survive a Chicago winter or 3.)

What If All the Money You Have, Isn't Enough?

You cooperate with your attacker, and hand over all your money. Then you get shot. Killer angered over small amount he got from UT student - St. Petersburg Times

The Left loves to say that if you only cooperate with your attacker and give him what he wants, you will be fine.* That is little more than wishful thinking.
TAMPA — The man who robbed and fatally shot a University of Tampa student early Wednesday was angered by the small amount of cash he got, police said.

Before he pulled the trigger, police spokeswoman Laura McElroy said, "The suspect continued to demand more money and was irate that they didn't have more."
Even police spokeswoman McElroy is confused.
"Why he would pull the trigger and commit such a senseless crime is a question we don't have an answer to," McElroy said.
How about this answer? Violent criminals remain violent even if you cooperate.

Cooperating with criminals is no guarantee of safety.

Of course having a plan for your personal defense is also no guarantee of safety. "The only things certain are death and next winter's snows." The fact that your plans do not always work only proves you are human. Still, I prefer to take action in my own defense. I believe it is in my best interest. You are free to believe differently, as long as you don't insist I share in your beliefs.

I am not trying to blame the victims in this tragedy. The only one responsible is the monster who pulled the trigger. (If they catch and convict him, Florida will execute him.) I merely want to point out that the Left's assurance that cooperating with violent criminals ensures safety is an outright lie.

* When counseling cooperation, they are always talking about robbery, they never discuss rape, and what a woman should do when confronted by a rapist.

A Very Strange Occurance

Convenience Store Robbery Turns Into Shootout Bad guys with guns. Good guy with gun. Shots fired. Bad guys scram. I read these stories all the time. But something was very odd about this story.
Officials said the clerk was shot through his hands and the bullet continued through the bottom of the clerk’s gun causing the clip to fall to the floor, emptying all of the bullets.

“He only got off one shot at the bad guys and he didn’t hit anything, because he fired as the bullet struck him,” Police Chief Farrell Alexander said.
What are the odds of that happening?

Still his one shot got the bad guys to leave.

The injured clerk went to house behind the store to call for help.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Government Motors - What Did You Expect?

A fairly scathing review of the "new team" at GM. Business Briefing - GM: Still Making the Same Mistakes (Of course the new team contains a lot of the old players.)

The Volt is the poster child for what they did wrong. They brought a beautiful, sporty concept car to the shows, then plan to introduce a plebeian econbox. And charge 40 grand (or more) for the thing. Yeah, that will work.
Now why would GM give the public the Volt's maximum range? That's only going to set the public up for disappointment, because some buyers, through their own driving habits, will likely not get that promised 40 miles before the generator kicks in. They'll complain about it, too. GM should have said that the Volt will get a minimum of 30 miles on the battery pack, which would still be the industry's best. That way, people who got more mileage than that would brag to all of their friends -- and anyone who stopped them on the street to ask about the Volt -- that they were "getting far better than the 30 miles promised."
First, their misunderstanding of how auctions work (eBay or in person, auctions can work for or against you, whether you are buying or selling). And yes, they are selling vehicles on eBay.

Then they have their (many fewer) dealerships and sales-force.
As for the salespeople, does GM think they are going to take hours and hours to sell customers on the features and benefits of a vehicle, then be totally cut out of the potential to make a living because, instead of returning to the dealership, the buyer tries to get a super deal at eBay?
Yeah, that will work in the long run.

Lastly they don't seem to know how to generate interest around a car's introduction.
in the 1980s the Chevrolet Lumina minivan was called the "most introduced" vehicle in America. GM started using photos of that unique minivan almost four years before actually having them available to sell. Again, by the time it came out it was old news, not something new and exciting.
That isn't the first time they did this.

But then the guy they have in charge of marketing is the same guy who has been in charge for a long while. Why they expected him to do anything different is a mystery.

And I still won't buy a Government Motors vehicle.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Shot Twice with a 12-gauge Shotgun - This Guy is Lucky To Be Alive

Guard who shot 15-year-old robbery suspect says he had no choice Since he has 2 "bullet wounds," I have to assume the security guard was using slugs. (Hint to the copy editors out there, shotguns don't shoot bullets. They shoot shot, or slugs.)
“When I heard her screaming, ‘Don’t shoot me. Don’t shoot me. You can take all the money. Don’t shoot me.’ That’s when I came around the corner with my 12-guage shotgun,” said Paige.
The store owner hired security because he has been robber repeatedly.

Self-defense (or defense of others) works, even in the face of armed attackers.

He Shot the Gun AFTER He Got the Money

I thought the standard position of the Left was that if we cooperate with robbers, they won't harm us. Store Owner Fights Back, Trades Shots With Gunman
After the store owner handed over the money, the suspect reportedly fired a shot inside the store before proceeding to leave with the cash.
When acting like a sheep failed to ensure his safety, the store-owner decided to fight back.

And you know, when I think about the Left and their urge to cooperate, it seems they are never talking about a woman confronted by a rapist. What would they say to a parent whose child was in jeopardy? Would they really preach cooperation?

Self-defense is a human right. And it works. (The bad guy got away, but with no cash in this incident.)

Media bias? What media bias?

Scars Linger After Acts of Self-Defense - I guess the NY Times thinks we would be better off if we didn't prepare to defend ourselves.

This is a great piece of media bias. The whole point of these stories is that people who defend themselves suffer in the years following. Yeah, maybe. But they aren't dead.

And its funny, but none of the stories are of women who defended themselves against rapists. Oh, that's right - only store keepers were interviewed. (Because no one else is ever attacked in New York City.)

I am sure that there are issues these men - and they are all men - have to deal with. But at least some of them might be dead if they hadn't defended themselves. (Cooperating with criminals is no guarantee of safety.)

But then the NY Times couldn't interview any of the clerks who weren't armed, and died as a result of robbery. (Do a google news search on "clerk shot" someday.)

Good Guys 1, Bad Guys 0

The homeowner appears to have done everything right. Northwest Houston homeowner allegedly fatally shoots intruder breaking into home.
Detectives say the homeowner was asleep inside the house when he was awakened by a knock at the front door. When he went to answer it, police say that someone broke in through the back door.

Police say the homeowner had a weapon and fired as many as four rounds.
Having been the victim of crime in the past, he wasn't trusting. He had his weapon, when he went to the door. (A lot of people who carry concealed are nearly always armed, even at home.) When the bad guy attacked, after he thought the homeowner was distracted, the homeowner was prepared.

Self-defense is a human right.

Is the Economy Really Getting Better?

A lot of people are celebrating, but is it premature? Mortgage Delinquencies Rise to Record as U.S. Home Prices Fall - Mortgage foreclosures are down. Is that the right measure, or is it down for other reasons?

The second quarter foreclosure rate is down slightly from first quarter. But is that a realistic measure? (Statistically, they may be the same - the difference is that small.) It takes bank personnel to initiate foreclosure proceedings. It takes court dates - at least in some states - to finalize a foreclosure. Is the situation better, or do bankers just have a backlog they haven't gotten processed? Ask the question another way. Is there a maximum number of foreclosures that can be processed by the banks and courts in a given quarter, and have we hit that maximum?

Consider Florida, as an example not chosen at random. Florida foreclosure rate among highest in nation - Business -
The Miami-Fort Lauderdale area ranked 14th nationally, with one in every 28 homes -- 3.54 percent -- in foreclosure, the firm said.

Foreclosure filings in the area rose by 40 percent compared to the same January-to-June period a year ago.
A 40% increase in workload isn't something that most businesses can absorb without some pain. It would almost certainly result in some backlog.

So is the economy reaching bottom, or are the banks and courts just drowning in paperwork?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Buy This Poor Woman Some Ammo

"She only had one bullet and she missed." She had everything right but the number of rounds loaded in the defensive handgun. Woman takes shot at burglar

So how would you respond to an intruder in your home at 1:20 AM?
"The victim said she was awakened by dogs barking," [Sheriff Ronnie] May said. "She said she got out of bed, picked up her pistol (a 9 mm) and walked down the hallway."

May said the woman told authorities that when she got near the kitchen, she saw the suspect and fired the gun.
They struggled until the victim recognized the intruder. It seems he decided to break into a home a few doors away from where he lives.
May said the suspect broke free and called the woman a derogatory name as he ran out the door.
He faces between 2 and 20 years for committing a class B felony.

But then he is lucky he isn't dead.

Self-defense is a human right. Good Guys 1, Bad Guys 0.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Man Breaks No Law. Film At 11!

Man carries assault rifle to Obama protest -- and it's legal -

People exercise their 2nd Amendment Rights to be sure that they continue to be recognized by government. (Some folks think 2nd Amendment Rights are at risk.) That drives some folks crazy. (More on this in a minute.)

I think the real reason that people are legally carrying guns - openly - in places like Arizona, is because of the bat-shit-crazy reaction that the Eastern press gyrates through when they do. The fact that the reporter and the anchor have to continually mention that "This is legal" says something about America I don't think is very good. People are amazed, and incensed when others exercise their rights. I may not agree with what you have to say, but I will defend your right to say it. (That is called Free Speech, folks, and if you don't like it, move to China or Cuba or anywhere people disappear for expressing their dislike of government.)

"It was jarring to see an AR-15 in the open" The reporter had never seen one before. (Funny, but I bet he reported on the Assault Weapons Ban, without knowing the first thing about so-called semi-automatic assault weapons.) Not that we really expect solid news reporting from the 24-hr cable news organizations. See the CNN video at this link.

Anyway, the interview with the guy in the video, can be found at YouTube!

And He Ran Like a Rabbit

Homeowner fires handgun at intruder in West Fargo burglary attempt
When officers arrived, the homeowner reported that a male subject had been inside his home. The homeowner said that feeling his family was in imminent danger he initially yelled for his wife to call 911, while he retrieved his handgun and fired a shot in the direction of the intruder.

The suspect fled and has not yet been found. Local medical facilities were immediately notified and asked to be aware of anyone coming in suffering from a gunshot wound; however, police officials say from further investigation they do not believe the bullet struck the suspect.
He didn't end up shot, but I bet he had to change his shorts.

Self-defense is human right.

This Story Never Seemed to Get Much Media Attention

A brutal rape, kidnapping and murder case... You would think this would have been all over the news.Day 1: Carjack/slayings trial ends with grisly testimony � Knoxville News Sentinel
A photograph displayed movie-sized on a projection screen in Criminal Court Judge Richard Baumgartner's courtroom showed Newsom's body burned from head to toe. His face was unrecognizable.

State arson investigator Robert Watson said an accelerant - likely gasoline - had been poured directly on Newsom's body and ignited.

Authorities say Newsom was raped, bound, gagged and led to the railroad tracks, where he was shot execution-style.

Christian, they say, was kept alive inside the Chipman Street house for several more hours, repeatedly raped and then stuffed inside a trash can. She suffocated to death.
I can't remember what the focus of the media was at the time, but I do remember wondering why this wasn't covered.

I won't repeat any of the (truly disturbing) descriptions of what these two people endured. You can click through if you are interested. [via Michelle Malkin]

Cops Have the Best Drugs

2 Police Officers Arrested In Park Drug Bust
Officers Kevin Fujioka and Shayne Souza, along with Scott Wilson, are facing several charges including possession of marijuana.
The article then segues into a long lament on the part of park police as to why they can't maintain order.

Which begs the question, "Why not have the county cops answer 911 calls in parks?" But then I'm not all in tune with bureaucratic turf wars.

As Far As I Know, Wisconsin Doesn't Have Concealed Carry

So the powers-that-be will no doubt prosecute this act of self-defense. Robbery target kills 17-year-old suspect - JSOnline
The shootings occurred about 2:50 a.m. in the 2600 block of N. 1st St. When the suspects confronted a 22-year-old man on the street he pulled out his own gun and shot the younger teen, police Sgt. Mark Stanmeyer said. Somehow, the older teen was shot and received a non-life threatening injury, Stanmeyer said.
If this had happened in a state where concealed carry was legal, I would say "Good Guys 2, Bad Guys 0" and be done. But this isn't one of those instances. The DA will decided if a jury will convict. (Though now I think on it, open carry MAY be legal in Wisconsin. Does anyone know? The article doesn't say.)

The means of self-defense should be available to everyone - certainly every law-abiding adult. The Castle Doctrine (or the Stand Your Ground law) should ensure that you have the right to defend yourself, and that after you do defend yourself, you can't be the target of lawsuits for doing so.

Oh, and just so they can turn the screws a little, The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel characterizes the dead hooligan as a "17-year-old Milwaukee boy." Given that he was committing armed robbery, I think there is a pretty good chance he might have been charged as an adult, had he faced a jury. I guess it is easier to demonize those eeeevil gun-owners if they are killing 17-year-old-boys, than if they are defending themselves from armed attack. The dead hooligan apparently shot the living hooligan after he got shot himself. (Media bias? What media bias?)

Self-defense is a human right.

Stupid Criminals

This is worse than having no gas in the get-away vehicle. Information on note leads to man's arrest
On Aug. 12, Todd Waller Markham allegedly walked into Washington Federal Savings at 181 E. 6100 South and gave the teller a note demanding cash. He was given the money and he left the bank, according to charging documents filed in United States District Court for Utah.

However, the reverse side of the note Markham allegedly gave the teller was a form detailing the results of a drug screening for Markham. The form identified Markham by name, Social Security number and birth date. Police were able to cross-reference the photo on Markham's driver's license against surveillance video and waited at his apartment.
In the words of Bugs Bunny, "What a maroon!"

“We have a human behavior problem.”

Please don't feed the wild animals. They are wild. San Bernardino National Forest bear: Californians biting off more than they can chew by feeding it --

This is the story of a bear being fed by Californians at a picnic area in a national forest. The picnic area has now been closed.
In fact, the bear that forced the closing of a picnic area next to California's San Bernardino National Forest's busiest trailhead July 7 had adapted to an easy food source: hot dogs and other human fare left out by picnickers and residents.

"People were leaving a lot of food unattended; they weren't properly throwing it away in the bear-proof cans. There was even reported cases where people were intentionally feeding the bear," said John Miller of the U.S. Forest Service. "We have a human behavior problem."
The winner of the Darwin Award for "Not Knowing Anything About Wild Animals," goes to...
And in Colorado, a 74-year-old woman who had been feeding dog food to the black bears she considered her pets was killed and partially eaten by bears, authorities said.
They are wild animals people. They aren't cute or cuddly. And if they get to associate you and food, they may just decide that you are food.

Something I Never Noticed Before About Hurricane Spotting

In the age of GPS, we always think that we know the position of things down to 10 feet or so. 10 yards on a bad day. But it seems the precision isn't quite what I thought it was. Hurricane BILL Forecast/Advisory (This is usually listed as the "Marine Forecast" on sites like Weather Underground)
30 nautical miles (34.5 statute miles) is a pretty long stretch, but then the ocean is a big place.

It isn't a big deal, because if you are actually in the vicinity of a tropical storm, there is never really any doubt where the eye is... generally speaking.

And you don't want to be 30 or 100 miles from the eye in any event. 12 foot seas are reported out 300 nautical miles from the center - that will ruin your day.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Due to Circumstances Beyond My Control...

I have been absent for a few days. Things should pick again, in the meantime, visit the blogs listed in the sidebar.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Because a Bear Near Kids Is a Bad Thing

The Left says that no one needs guns today. Apparently they don't think bears are a problem. Nuisance bear shot dead in Screven
Ken Boyette shot the bear about two blocks from his home after it wandered into a neighbor’s yard on Wasdin Street not far from where children were riding bikes and playing football.

Minutes earlier, the bear had torn up a home after forcing its way inside. The bear then went up to Boyette’s home where it was scared off by his brother’s bulldog.

“I didn’t have a choice. He had no fear of humans,” Boyette said. “I was afraid it was going to hurt one of the kids or someone else.”
The bear had been relocated a couple of times around Florida and eventually into Georgia.

But the bear had come to associate people and food.
[Ed Van Otteren, a Georgia Department of Natural Resources wildlife technician who had captured the bear a week earlier at a St. Marys home,] said there is some evidence that the bear had started rummaging through garbage. That often leads bears to associate food with people, which can lead to aggression.

“Unfortunately, he got too used to people and couldn’t stay away,” Van Otteren said.
I wonder how many tax dollars were spent trying to keep this bear alive.

Self-defense and Domestic Violence

Alleged intruder shot and wounded -
St. Clair County sheriff's deputies said the intruder tried to break in because his ex-girlfriend was there. The male resident twice fought him off and then resorted to two shots to stop him, officials said.
Never a good thing when an ex shows up and tries to break into a residence.

Self-defense is a human right.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

More Info on Cancer Survival Rates

Europe versus US: Who has better survival? Cancer Survival Depends on Where You Live - ABC News
There's also a significant difference in cancer survival rates between the United States and Europe, with survival rates 10 percent and 34 percent higher in the United States for breast cancer and prostate cancer, respectively, the study found.
Say it again. The survival rate for breast cancer is 10 percent higher in the US than in Europe, and the survival rate for prostate cancer is 34 percent higher. (This article doesn't seem to define the survival rate, but it usually defined at 5 years. That is, you are deemed to have survived if you are still alive 5 years after diagnosis. Some studies also collect 10 year survival rates, et cetera, but 5 years is standard elsewhere.)

Still looking for by-country break-down of survival rates. If anyone has it, please leave a link in the comments.

Doesn't Cooperation Guarantee Safety?

The Left always says that we should just cooperate with criminals to ensure our safety. I guess this guy didn't get the memo. Shooting victim survives -

Cooperating with criminals is a bad strategy. (This is usually a white man railing on about robbery. What does the Left tell a woman confronted by a rapist, or a minority confronted by a racist? Does their advice change?)

Anyway in this case, giving the bastard some money didn't guarantee anything.
After the robber got some cash, he shot [the victim] in the left arm and ran off.
Self-defense doesn't always work. But doing your best imitation of a sheep led to slaughter won't ensure your safety either.

Monday, August 10, 2009

We Don't Need No Stinkin' Security

Third cyber-security official resigns during Obama's tenure. Another U.S. Cybersecurity Official Resigns -- Government Technology -- InformationWeek
Though [Mischel Kwon, director of the United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team] has a new job, The Washington Post reported that Kwon's colleagues attributed her departure partly to frustration with "bureaucratic obstacles and a lack of authority to fulfill her mission."

Kwon's departure marks the third cybersecurity official to step down during the Obama administration's tenure, and the third who has cited a lack of empowerment as one of the reasons for resigning. Rod Beckstrom quit as director of the Department of Homeland Security's National Cybersecurity Center earlier this year, citing a turf war with the National Security Agency. Last week, White House acting senior director for cyberspace Melissa Hathaway resigned, telling The Washington Post that she didn't feel "empowered to continue to drive change."

Despite President Obama's promise in May to appoint a federal cybersecurity coordinator, the position remains unfilled. That, coupled with the resignations of Hathaway and Kwon, has prompted concerns that cybersecurity isn't the priority Obama said it would be for his administration.
Turf wars can't be laid at Obama's feet, but if he was serious about security, he might issue some directions. (Everyone fighting over turf does report to the administration.)
Cybersecurity has increasingly become a high-profile issue in government. According to US-CERT, cybersecurity incidents have almost tripled in the last three years. The Department of Defense recently spent more than $100 million over six months defending against attacks. Recent attacks have taken down federal agency Web sites, infiltrated the power grid, and stolen sensitive data on an Air Force fighter jet.
So is this not a priority?

Don't think it will come up in any town-hall meeting, but that doesn't mean it isn't important.

Serious About Self-defense

Florida expects about 150,000 concealed carry permit applications this year.Gun permit requests rise
"We're still sitting on about 50,000 applications," said Agriculture Commissioner Charles Bronson. "We're getting in about 14,000 or 15,000 a month, and whenever they get a good slug out, they're getting another 15,000 in."
Don't ask me to explain how FL divides responsibilities between the various departments. I don't think anyone understands it.

The reports that the state used get about 14,000 permit requests per year. That is how many they are getting every month right now.
As of July 31, Florida had 607,977 concealed-weapon permit holders. Most permit requests are approved, so long as the person is over 21 and has no felony record.
Estimates - there is no registration in Florida - are that there are at least 6 million guns in FL.

So You Think the System Will Protect You

He was arrested twice in 14 days for violating a restraining order. He is now charged with murder. Suspect released twice before fatal shooting | KGET TV 17

She did what the Left says will keep you safe: She got a restraining order.
17 News has learned Sowders-Fuller reported the violation of the restraining order seven times since July 25, ranging from slashing tires to threats.

Of those seven reports, Fuller was arrested twice due to probable cause.

"On Aug. 4, we arrested him for violating that restraining order," [Senior Deputy Michael] Whorf said. "He did post bond the same day."
The same day? He didn't even spend the night in jail. And you think the system can protect you. Why?

If you need a restraining order, you also need a plan for your personal safety. The restraining order wasn't much more than an inconvenience to this guy.
Early Saturday morning, deputies say he broke into his ex-wife's home in the 200 block of South Plymouth Avenue.

Fuller used a shotgun to kill the woman and her mother, said Senior Deputy Michael Whorf.

The victims, Suzan Annette Sowders-Fuller, 45, and her mother, Sharon Sue Cannon, 69, were shot in front the couple's two young children, ages 5 and 8.
That will probably take some therapy to deal with.

Restraining orders are interesting legal documents. They are not bullet-proof vests. Take some measures to ensure your safety.

It may not have made any difference in this case. Having a plan for your personal safety, does not guarantee your personal safety, but you cannot just rely on the system.

Homeowner Not Expected to Face Charges

Because this happened in Mississippi, and not one of the states patterned after the old Soviet Union. Robbery suspect shot in Jackson
Police do not expect to charge a Jackson homeowner who shot and wounded a man he found breaking into his car early Sunday morning.
A grand jury will hear the case, which is pretty common for something like this, but the police didn't see any reason to charge a law-abiding citizen.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

He Thought He Knew What Was Best for Everyone

He killed his wife, 2 grandchildren and attacked his daughter. Grandfather axe murderer to spend rest of his life in jail
When the children’s mother, came home later that day she was attacked from behind with an axe after discovering her mother and children dead.

But she managed to fend off her father, despite sustaining deep lacerations and fractures to her skull.

"I am doing this because I love you," the father explained. "When I am done with you lot I am going to Newcastle to kill your ex-husband. We are all better off this way."
What arrogance. Insanity? Perhaps, but he was sane enough to stand trial.

Self-defense Works

Even if you are confronted by an armed robber, self-defense can work. Would-be thief shot inside Port Richmond pizza shop -
Police say an armed gunman walked into the pizza shop at 11:45 Saturday night demanding money, but the owner pulled out his own gun and shot the robber.
The would-be robber is in critical condition at a local hospital.

Self-defense is a human right.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Cops Behaving Badly - Omnibus Edition

All courtesy of Keep and Bear Arms. "Innocent until proved guilty..." etc.

Newnan officer charged with child molestation �
A Newnan police officer was arrested Tuesday on charges of child molestation.

[This cop] is accused of having a sexual relationship with a 15-year-old girl, Georgia Bureau of Investigation spokesman John Bankhead said Wednesday.

Lafayette officer arrested in theft
a seven-year veteran assigned to the Lafayette Police Department's patrol division, was charged with felony theft and unauthorized use of a movable.
A laptop and a GPS unit. Was it worth his freedom and career?

Your tax dollars at work. Convicted pervert ex-cop cops pension He plead guilty to a misdemeanor. I wonder if he was originally charged with anything else.

Not truly bad behavior, but troubling behavior by the Secret Service. BURGER WATCH While Michelle Obama and daughters were in a local eatery,
patrons had their cellphones temporarily confiscated to prevent pictures from being taken.
What section of the Constitution authorizes this, exactly?

And this isn't bad behavior at all, just a little funny. Fit for Duty? Jokes about cops and donuts will not be tolerated in the comments.

Not Quite Death-care. Not Quite Right

Now the last time I got my official score card, the Washington Post was NOT part of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy. I could be mistaken. Charles Lane - House Health-Care Reform Bill Oversteps on End-of-Life Issues - Undue Influence: The House Bill Skews End-of-Life Counsel.

An interesting review of section 1233 of the health care bill drafted by the House Dems.

This is the section that provides monetary incentives to physicians to have "end-of-life decision counseling sessions with people on Medicare - mostly the elderly.
Though not mandatory, as some on the right have claimed, the consultations envisioned in Section 1233 aren't quite "purely voluntary," as Rep. Sander M. Levin (D-Mich.) asserts. To me, "purely voluntary" means "not unless the patient requests one." Section 1233, however, lets doctors initiate the chat and gives them an incentive -- money -- to do so. Indeed, that's an incentive to insist.

Patients may refuse without penalty, but many will bow to white-coated authority. Once they're in the meeting, the bill does permit "formulation" of a plug-pulling order right then and there. So when Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) denies that Section 1233 would "place senior citizens in situations where they feel pressured to sign end-of-life directives that they would not otherwise sign," I don't think he's being realistic.

What's more, Section 1233 dictates, at some length, the content of the consultation. The doctor "shall" discuss "advanced care planning, including key questions and considerations, important steps, and suggested people to talk to"; "an explanation of . . . living wills and durable powers of attorney, and their uses" (even though these are legal, not medical, instruments); and "a list of national and State-specific resources to assist consumers and their families." The doctor "shall" explain that Medicare pays for hospice care (hint, hint).
Now I am a big fan of hospice, but I think this goes a little overboard.

And the simple fact that this is all aimed at saving money, and that makes it a little creepy.
But Section 1233 goes beyond facilitating doctor input to preferring it. Indeed, the measure would have an interested party -- the government -- recruit doctors to sell the elderly on living wills, hospice care and their associated providers, professions and organizations. You don't have to be a right-wing wacko to question that approach.
Are all hospitals bound to honor DNR orders and living wills, or do any religious hospitals object to not making every effort to save every life? Seems like some might have feelings on that subject, I just don't know.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Why I find it easy to be cynical about government
How this all got started.

This all came out of a few email conversations among friends regarding the current political landscape. (You know who you are.)

As this was just a collection of links with some random comments, the formatting is a bit rough. That is the only thing for which I apologize.

Make of it what you will.

One of my friends expressed surprise at how cynical I am about government, in a discussion of the email that included this link:

Why am I cynical? All I can say is, "It is my nature." (Google the parable of "the Frog and the Scorpion" if you don't know the reference.) That and my study of history.

Actually, I love history. The stories of what we have done to one another over the millennia are more fascinating than any fiction. (The difference between fiction and reality, is that fiction has to make sense.) But those stories don't usually instill faith in the human animal.

I think it comes down to one thing: Liberals trust government, while libertarians don't.

Liberals think that when a government program isn't working it is because the right people aren't in charge.

For example - when in 2000, the existence of the Echelon electronic surveillance program came to light (Clinton was in office), the New York Times called it "a necessity."
We all know how they reacted to the Patriot Act. (I wonder, is there legislation making its way through Congress to repeal the hated Patriot Act, and I just haven't heard about it?)

Echelon spies on all US communication. The Patriot Act was supposed to be targeted at specific threats. I don't like the provisions of either all that much. (I don't like the fact that the US government has a computer virus/worm - known as Magic Lantern - that anti-virus software is forbidden to even report, let alone remove. But that's me - I like privacy.)

Libertarians, on the other hand, think that when a government program isn't working it should be eliminated.

That trust - or lack thereof - leads each group to make very different estimations about what governments should do, and what they should not.

Anyway, the 6 posts associate with this topic detail some of the reasons I don't trust government, in all its glory.

I quote Lord Acton elsewhere (about power and corruption) so I will leave you with another great thinker...

"Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys."
- P.J. O`Rourke

Why I find it easy to be cynical about government
Part 1: Cops and the Criminal Justice System

First the easy one: Cops. My standard disclaimer is to say that most cops are fairly decent folks. But they aren't all decent. Some are crooks. Some are bullies. Some are monsters. I do believe most cops are decent enough. I think the unions spend too much time keeping the bad ones employed. (See the very end of this post for what I said in 2006)

I won't repeat the link I sent in the last email. And while Most of my stories deal with Chicago - it still holds a special place in my heart - other cities are not immune. Boston shows up from time to time, as does LA, and Memphis has at least one web site dedicated solely to the shenanigans of their PD.

When I was growing up, it was sort-of common knowledge that you could get out of virtually any traffic ticket in Chicago for about 20 bucks. Though I never witnessed this because when we went into the city it was usually via the train. In the days before photo IDs, paper drivers' license were kept in little envelopes, usually with a 20 folded in behind the license.

John Burge and the Midnight Crew from Area 2 - tortured subjects to extract confessions. Some of those folks - 100% black I think - ended up on death row, until DNA and project innocence came along and proved they were NOT guilty. (Of course SCOTUS has said that being innocent shouldn't stand in the way of your execution, as long as you had a "fair trial") The statute of limitations has expired, though they are now investigating if they can prosecute "conspiracy to obstruct justice," because the conspiracy is on-going. (Interesting speculative side-note: Mayor Daley was an assistant DA, and the DAs had to know - suspects came out of interrogation, beaten bloody, broken bones in more than one case, and with signed confessions.) There are something on the order of 170 cases where the current prosecutors think they could prove a case of police brutality/excessive force - if the statute of limitations hadn't expired.

Rampart Scandal - LAPD - more like a gang with uniforms. (Just recently LAPD got out from under court supervision as a result of this)

Chicago PD's Special Operations Section - Disbanded in 2008 (maybe late 2007). Murder for hire. Home invasions and kidnapping. Extortion. Drugs. etc. All while collecting CPD paychecks.

Google will give you more than you want to know on any of these 3 stories.

Then there is the story of ex-Chicago cop (now ex-from 2 universities where he worked) who admitted beating people and using drugs as payoffs were SOP at CPD.
a former Chicago cop who allegedly has been recorded on tape telling students at Colorado State University that beating suspects and paying off informants with drugs is just a way of life for police in "Chi-town."

My own limited experience, with Chicago's Finest (among a few others) is that they would almost never come to the scene of a gay bashing. If they did, it wasn't always a good thing. (One time they actually arrested the guy bleeding on the sidewalk) If the cops don't come to the scene of a violent crime, the ambulance won't come either - not in Chicago anyway. So the hatred by police spilled over into medical attention.

The following is sort of a worm's eye view of what it looks like. To me at least. Collected along the way of doing my regular web surfing over the past few years. (my favorite - the Brett Darrow saga, or at least 2/3 of it - "I will make something up and throw you in jail.") (somethings haven't changed) (with a health care tie-in)

Evidence Techs "changing things around" (well, almost fits this category)

And the FBI/Feds get in the act as well (Witness Protection and the Outfit?) (well, an FBI connection)

The last trial, and current "big arrest" from the FBI's Operation Family Secrets was law enforcement. (The 2 above). Witness Protection inspector having a long phone conversation with a "family friend" while on duty guarding a witness against the Outfit. Said friend has ties to the Outfit. Cicero Cops interfering with an FBI investigation of a reputed Outfit hitter - an Outlaw they think fire-bombed some businesses. (The Outfit, has had many names - it is Al Capone's old organization. Think of the movie "Casino." The Outlaws are a motorcycle gang - currently being recruited by the Outfit in part as a result of losses from Family Secrets... though the Outfit was always more equal-opportunity than The Five Families)

The arrogance of lawyers...
Stare Decisis - Latin for "to stand by that which is decided" - is the doctrine that holds a bad (not horrible but bad) precedent is better than the law, or the Constitution, it was supposed to be based on. Over time, we live in the world of the Mad Hatter. "Words mean only what I say they mean. Nothing more and nothing less." The Law is what the judges (the lawyers) say it is. It doesn't matter what is actually written down...

Which leads to...

Judges - that "impartial" section of the Criminal Justice system...

For the complete list of things I covered...

On the subject of Law Enforcement Officers, I had this to say in 2006:
Are most cops bad? Of course not, but there are enough of the bad ones out there that no LEO should expect to get the "benefit of the doubt" anymore when if comes to who is a risk and who is not. A cop I meet is just the same as any other stranger, except that (A) he has a gun and (B) the "system" is not likely to hold him accountable for anything he might try.

If the LEOs of the world want to get that "benefit of the doubt" back, they need to find, and incarcerate all of the bad cops. In the story related here, officers knew what the score was. Supervisors were told what was going on. No one took action against one of their own. So much for justice in the "Criminal Justice System" (so-called).

Why I find it easy to be cynical about government
Part 2: Politicians and the Great Game

"Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men."
— John Emerich Edward Dalberg-Acton (Lord Acton)

One of the earliest memories of political skulduggery I have was the case of Paul Powell, Illinois Secretary of state.,9171,942440,00.html
Illinois Secretary of State Paul Powell had a simple definition, expressed in the negative, of a successful politician: "There's only one thing worse than a defeated politician, and that's a broke one." For 42 years, Powell was an undefeated politician. Now, three months after his death, at age 68, his executor, the Illinois attorney general and the Illinois Bureau of Investigation are taking the true measure of his success. Powell, who in his lifetime of public service never earned more than $30,000 a year, left an estate worth more than $2 million—$800,000 of it in bills packed into shoe boxes, briefcases and strongboxes in the closet of his hotel suite in Springfield.
I once had a "Paul Powell Savings Bank" - it was part of a collection. It was a shoe box.

Illinois has a history of political corruption.
Though to be fair, Dan Walker went to prison for something he did AFTER he was governor. (Savings and Loan fraud),0,455299.story
George Ryan was convicted for corruption in office

The current Jr. Senator for Illinois, Roland Burris, has decided not to run for reelection. He has various stories on this - mostly lack of funds. The truth is probably a bit more complicated. He is essentially political Kryptonite in Illinois, because of his association with Blago. (More on him in a minute...) Burris has answered several questions (and refused to answer) on whether or not he was ready to engage in Pay to Play with Blago for Obama's Senate seat. This bit of snark sums it up nicely.
Let’s see if we have it right: Burris had zero contact with any of Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s cronies about his interest in the Senate seat being vacated by President Barack Obama— unless you count that conversation with former chief of staff Lon Monk, and, on further reflection, the ones with insiders John Harris, Doug Scofield and John Wyma and, oh yeah, the governor’s brother and fund-raising chief, Robert Blagojevich. But Burris didn’t raise a single dollar for the now ex-governor as a result of those contacts because that could be construed as a quid pro quo and besides, everyone he asked refused to donate.

Do I need to recount the misdemeanors of Milorad "Rod" Blagojevich?

Probably not. Let's look at the man behind the curtain (or one of them anyway). Tony Rezko. (Not the most definitive source, I know, but I have a headache, so staring a screen is painful - sleep is unthinkable)
Antoin "Tony" Rezko (born July 1955) is a political fundraiser, restaurateur, and real estate developer in Chicago, Illinois, convicted on several counts of fraud and bribery in 2008. Rezko has been involved in fundraising for local Illinois Democratic and Republican politicians since the 1980s. After becoming a major contributor to Rod Blagojevich's successful gubernatorial election, Rezko assisted Blagojevich in setting up the state's first Democratic administration in twenty years. Rezko was able to have business associates appointed onto several state boards. Rezko and several others were indicted on federal charges in October 2006, for using their connections to the state boards to demand kickbacks from businesses that wanted to do business with the state. While the others pleaded guilty to the charges, Rezko pleaded not guilty and was found guilty of 16 of the 24 charges filed against him.
Rezko dealt with both sides of the aisle, and most politicians not actively feuding with the Machine. Including structuring a sweetheart real-estate deal for an Illinois Senator.,CST-NWS-obama05.article
U.S. Sen. Barack Obama expressed regret late Friday for his 2005 land purchase from now-indicted political fundraiser Antoin "Tony" Rezko in a deal that enlarged the senator's yard.
Obama bought a house, and Rezko bought a vacant lot next to that house for $600,000 and change. Obama later a "strip" of Rezko's land for about 100 grand. (later paragraph) What this article doesn't mention is that by selling that piece of land to the Obamas, Rezko made the remaining property into default park land. The lot does not have enough setback to meet Chicago zoning requirements. No one can build on Rezko's property. Which to some people implies that Obama really has control of the whole of the Rezko property at 100 grand, not 600 grand. It looks like a $500,000 gift on which no taxes were paid. Appearances can be deceiving, but this is Chicago.

This litany doesn't even touch on the truly horrible things governments (and politicians) have done over the centuries. (I leave you to do a web search on anything you aren't familiar with.)

The Trail of Tears and other acts against Native Americans by the US government or the states individually.
US Grant's General Order 11
Turkish Extermination of Armenians
Soviet Extermination of Ukrainians (Holodomor -or Starvation- of 1932 to 1933, killed 14 million Ukrainians)

Nazi Extermination of Jews and "undesirables" in the Holocaust. (6 million Jews, 3 million others)
Hutu and Tutsi Conflict (800,000 - more or less depending on who is counting - died in 1994, but millions have died in total.)
Great Leap Forward (1957 to ? at least 16 million died as a result of famine, not including political purges)

You could reach farther back.. the Edict of Expulsion (1290) and the associated atrocities. The Inquisition was not exactly a government's doing, yet had they support of governments. Pogroms of the late 1800s, early 1900s.

If you call the Huns' tribal leadership a government... Or read what the Greeks did to one another in "The History of the Peloponnesian War," by Thucydides.

Now, ask me again why I am cynical about government.

Why I find it easy to be cynical about government
Part 3: Voter Fraud

I am only going to touch on the "ancient history" of American voter fraud, because it is the only thing that doesn't feel like sticking my head into the lion's den.

"Vote Early. Vote Often." Old standing joke for election day in Chicago.

John Kennedy beat Richard Nixon in 1960 with the help of suspected fraud in Illinois and Texas. Among the documented cases of ballot stuffing in that close election was a precinct in Texas's Angelina County where only 86 people voted. Yet the final count was 147 for Kennedy and 24 for Nixon. Fannin County, Texas, had 4,895 registered voters, but somehow they cast 6,138 votes, with three quarters for Kennedy. And there is strong evidence that the Daley machine in Chicago was responsible for Kennedy winning Illinois by 8,858 votes. Kennedy received 456,312 more votes than Nixon in Chicago, whose precincts reported their totals remarkably late. (Kennedy's nationwide victory margin was only 118,574 votes.) Voter turnout in the Daley-controlled precincts was a spectacular 89 percent compared with the nationwide turnout of 63 percent.

Chicago gave Illinois to Kennedy. Illinois gave Kennedy enough electoral college votes to go over the top. And before you say this is Urban Legend...

Ultimately, a special prosecutor, Morris Wexler, was appointed to investigate the Chicago fraud allegations. Wexler brought charges against 650 election officials but a Democratic judge's pro-defense rulings crippled Wexler's case and the charges were dropped.

Finally, in 1962, after an election judge confessed to witnessing vote tampering in Chicago's 28th ward, three precinct workers pled guilty and served short jail terms.

File this under "Don't Make No Waves, Don't Back No Losers."
A new biography, "American Pharaoh," quotes Mayor Daley defending his city by claiming that Democratic fraud in Chicago was no worse than Republican fraud in downstate Illinois:
2 wrongs = 1 right?

More recent allegations of Vote Fraud exist in Chicago, though none in 2008.

At this point, I could segue into why Kennedy was assassinated, but I think you know my theories already. (The most unforgivable sin = disloyalty. 1st act as Pres? Appoint Bobby AG, and start in on organized crime.)