Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Good cop....bad cop

 Good cop

Bad cop

Over the past several days the news, the social media, and water cooler conversation everywhere has been all about the shooting and subsequent grand jury no-bill of the police officer involved in Ferguson, MO.  

As if the incident itself wasn't troubling enough, now I'm taken back by the almost universal opinion, presented as fact, that the cops are always wrong and the victims, especially if they are of color, are always innocent.  All this before ANY evidence has been presented, and this from people I know to be highly intelligent, people who should know better than to speak before knowing the facts.  Of course there are some out-of-control police officers, just as there are kids who sometimes make bad decisions.  But without knowing the facts, it's impossible to tell which is which.  Decisions this important should be made on a case-by-case basis.

I know this because for 18 years I served as a Civil Service Commissioner (a non-paid volunteer position) in my city.  We oversaw the hiring, firing, discipline, and promotion of firefighters and police officers.  I was recommended by some firefighters I knew, who knew me to be fair and open minded, not capable of being bullied by anyone.  

Over the years we (there were 3 commissioners) backed up some decisions of our fire/police chiefs against errant firefighters/police officers, and other times we decided against the chiefs.  We called 'em as we saw 'em.  

For the record, I'm white, one was a hispanic male, and one was a black female, and I can honestly say our fairness was universally considered beyond reproach.  We represented the CITIZENS of our city, not the city administration, and not the police officers/fire fighters associations.

I took both the Citizens Police and Fire Academies, each a 15 week course where we were given insight into every facet of department operations.  Regarding the police, we had classroom time learning about state laws, Miranda rules, chain of evidence rules, rules governing search and seizure, court decisions, the proper use of escalating levels of force, and more.  We learned about patrol, traffic, narcotics, investigation, SWAT, K-9, forensics, etc.  

We drove pursuit cars and fired guns on their range.  We did role playing where we answered imaginary calls and had to deal with yelling/screaming spouses, parents and their out-of-control kids, etc.  We had to calm everyone down, then reason with them and get them to "kiss and make up".  We were just as often psychologists as crime stoppers.  The job involves a lot of stress and requires a lot of thinking on your feet.

We were taught to always look at a persons hands, not just blindly into their eyes.  Eyes won't hurt you, hands and what they're holding will.  I once went out on a "ride along" on an overnight Friday shift, on a payday, with a full moon no less.  It was crazy.  We...OK, the cop...caught a kid stripping a car of electronics.  As we pulled in behind him the kid reached abruptly into the back seat for....what?  The cop jumped out and unholstered his firearm, and the kid gave up.  Turned out the kid was just hiding something behind the back seat, not getting a gun, but the cop had to err on the side of caution.  (And yes, I was shown the "unlock" button on the console that freed the shotgun in case it all hit the fan.)

Once our city had an officer kill a minority youth when he was charged by the kid who was wielding a large knife.  There was an immediate outcry from the community....not on the level of the unrest in Ferguson, thank goodness....that was finally quieted a few days later when dash-cam video of the entire incident was shown publicly.  It showed conclusively it was a sad but proper response considering the life threatening situation the officer was confronted with when he arrived on scene.  Thank God that video existed, for without it who knows how explosive our city could have become.  The cop wasn't out of control, and the kid was definitely in the wrong.

I've also seen instances where there were complaints from citizens against officers for offers of leniency in exchange for sex, cops roughing up kids, cops wanting a payoff for letting someone go after being caught with hard drugs, etc.  To his credit our chief came down hard, indefinitely suspending (firing) the bad cops, and we upheld his decisions.  And once one city fires them no other city would dare touch them....they're tainted forever.  I've seen...we've all seen...videos where cops drag a grandma out her car window when she didn't unbuckle her belt fast enough.  Inexcusable!  Brutal!  Bad cops exist, for sure, and must be rooted out.

I know I'm rambling, but I do have a point here.  The job cops do is dangerous.  It can be scary.  It can be mundane one second, and life threatening seconds later.  Would you want to walk through a high crime area alone, after dark, looking for someone who just knocked off a 7-11?  I wouldn't, but we expect our cops to do it every day.  They sometimes have to make split-second decisions that can mean life or someone.  As I've tried to show, they aren't all bad, and they aren't all good.  

It is unfair of us to listen to hearsay rumors and make a decision on guilt or innocence.  I would hope we would be smarter than that.  ONLY evidence presented under oath should be viewed credibly.  In the case of Ferguson, MO, buildings were burning before anyone knew what evidence the grand jury had heard.  That just wasn't right.  For myself, I still haven't heard most of the facts that were presented to the grand jury, so I will continue to withhold my opinion until I do.

One good thing that might come out of this tragedy is (I hope) a law mandating all cops have body cameras on them when they answer calls.  That should offer invaluable, hopefully even conclusive evidence of who did what.  That seems like a win-win for both the public and the police.  But in the meantime, please THINK before you pass judgement.

Knee-jerk reactions are dumb.


Monday, November 24, 2014

What's the old saying? "If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem."

DOH!  Where's a good lightning bolt when you need one?

Is anybody besides me sick of the politicians going all nuclear over Brick O'bama's immigration "reform" executive order?  The Republicans won't address immigration, so Obama issues his order, right or wrong, and the Republicans run straight to court, whining what a dictator he's being.

You know the old political ploy of inventing a crisis/war/catastrophe to take attention off yourself when you're caught asleep at the wheel?  "No, don't look here.  Look over there."  That's what this amounts to.  If the Republicans don't like what Obama is doing regarding immigration, put a legitimate, DETAILED plan of their own on the table for discussion and schedule a vote.  

Hello?  Boner....Mitch?  Anyone?  Still waiting....

Here's my beef:  The Republicans have said for several years that they wouldn't tackle immigration reform until after the election.  Going unsaid was the fact that they wanted to pander for votes in all quarters.  They didn't want to take a stand on anything that might cost them any votes.  

In other words, they were more concerned about THEIR jobs than they were about the good of the country.  Shouldn't that itself disqualify them from holding public office?  

Don't get me wrong....the Dems are as self-centered as the Republicans.  They are all too willing to throw us under the bus, too, if they can keep their jobs (and all the graft that goes with it) for a couple more years.

IMO, unless we're willing to give the boot to Mitch and Boner and Nancy and Harry and all their respective "yes men" (and based on recent election results, we aren't) nothing in Washington will ever get any better.  America is as successful as it is IN SPITE of Washington, not because of it.  

I still have this crazy, nostalgic idea that leaders are paid to LEAD.  Silly me.


Friday, November 21, 2014

It's been a month

It's been a month since my best buddy changed address.  A very quiet month.  A month without a happy furry guy greeting me at the door when I get home.  A month without early morning or late evening dootie walks.  A month without him waiting patiently (?) to lick my ice cream spoon. 

I still can't believe Luke, Lukie-boy, The Lukester....he answered to them all...went from healthy to struggling for his life in just a few days....some sort of auto-immune system malfunction.  I'd never heard of such a thing, and there was nothing I, nor veterinary specialists, could do to stop it.  If something seemed like it might help, we tried it.  And he fought bravely, too.

I have no idea if I'll some day be reunited with him or not.  I sincerely hope that "Rainbow Bridge" thing is true.  I'll be one happy guy if it is.  To be surrounded again by Luke, Emma Belle, and Tara Belle (previous canine family members) would be amazing.

Take care Lukie-boy.  I love you buddy.  Rest up now while you can, 'cause we're going on some epic walks when I some day catch up.

S..."The guy what passes out the treats"  :)

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

What rock did these people crawl out from under?

 Palestinians were in a party mood yesterday as they celebrated in the streets the murder of 5 Jewish worshipers in a Jerusalem synagogue.  In the West Bank people passed out sweets to show their approval.

You've seen the news:  Two killers entered a Jewish synagogue and murdered 5 people before they were themselves killed by police.  Sane people everywhere SHOULD have condemned the act, but they didn't.  NO group, no religion should condone such a heinous act.  No extenuating circumstances.  No excuses.  It was a barbarous act, regardless of who the aggressors or victims were.

I just saw on TV a person, an American Muslim spokesman and journalist, who was given an opportunity to condemn this act.  He sort of did...I the most vague way you can imagine.  You had to listen veeery carefully.  "But...but..."

I happen to be one of those who believe the Palestinians DO deserve their own autonomous homeland.  But for that to happen they will have to enforce laws that protect their own people AND THEIR NEIGHBORS.  

Have you heard anything about how the authorities are hot on the trail of the extremists in their midst?  Didn't think so.  As it is they are nothing but a bunch of lawless armed thugs.  That seems to be what their people celebrate.

Now, anybody care to step up and tell me what a lovely bunch of sweet people they are?

Here are some of the next wave of Palestinian fighters brandishing their weapons as they strut their stuff after the synagogue massacre.  (Note the guy with the red head wrap....he has his finger on the trigger of his gun.  HUGE no-no.  What an amateur!)


Friday, November 14, 2014

Rarely are things as simple as they seem

"Liberated" from Facebook:

Counterpoint: On the surface the following statement makes good sense, but it isn't that simple. If you invent a better mouse trap, offer superior service, or just work harder than anyone else and make a fortune, good for you! You deserve it.

But in our country it has become acceptable to use your earned fortune to buy influence in Congress, resulting in special favors, tax relief, subsidies, etc being granted. In other words getting something you DIDN'T work for. The wealthy are being somewhat disingenuous suggesting "I worked for it, it's mine, you can't have it." Truth is they worked for SOME of it.

Take away all the special favors and there will still be income inequality (because some people DO build better mouse traps, offer superior service, and work harder) but it will not be anywhere near as pronounced as it is now. Our system of special favors to some needs to be changed.


Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Jail the bankers!

What's a guy to do?  With your eye on a new truck and needing a fast buck, you decide to turn to crime.  You walk into a business, demand money, then walk out with $1000. You get caught and the judge fines you $200 and sends you on your way.  That's it. that rate you can net $800 every time you visit your local liquor store, 7-11, or Walmart.  If you need $1600, just be sure to steal $2000.  Need $3200 for your Black Friday midnight run?  Steal $4000.  The fine is just a cost of doing business.  

It's not your money....what do you care how much the fine is?  What's the downside, except for that pesky little part about eventually going straight to hell?  Sure beats working 40+ hours a week at the sawmill.

That's essentially the way our large, prestigious (?) banks do business these days.  Today's paper reported that a number of big banks have once again been fined, this time $3.3B for manipulating the foreign exchange (currency) markets while enjoying a windfall of untold billions of dollars in "profits" in the process.

In the last few years the "Too Big To Fail" banks, the ones you and I (the taxpayers) bailed out after their greed f__ked up the world's economy back in '08, have collectively paid $251B in fines for....let's just call it what it is....THEFT.  And they're still reporting record profits!  That's just a portion of what they made off their crime spree.  The rest they've already spent, some of it going to themselves as a thank-you bonus for their "hard work".

And to rub our noses in it, just know that it's the SAME banks that keep committing these crimes over and over again.  They've learned that crime DOES pay!

Wanna stop 'em in their tracks?  JAIL THE BANKERS!  Put them behind bars.  Put them on a bread and water diet.  Put them to work busting rocks in the hot sun.  Turn 'em over to that Hang 'Em High Sheriff fella in Arizona for a year or two. 

But as long as we keep electing politicians who are also profiting from this behavior (via political campaign contributions from the bankers) nothing will change.  We the sheep will still be led to slaughter. 

*this is insane*


Sunday, November 2, 2014

Good Muslims?

Tonight I watched a story on 60 Minutes about this guy ^, a Muslim cleric in London.  He is a radical who refuses to condemn the actions of Muslim extremists, even the sicko who beheaded a British soldier on a public street in London.  He says a double standard is acceptable when viewing the actions of the oppressed vs the oppressor.  He is active in the effort to recruit disaffected Muslim youths to travel to Syria and fight for ISIS, among other likely treasonable actions.

Here's what I don't understand:  With billions (?) of Muslims in the world, I realize they can't ALL be bad, but why don't the supposedly huge numbers of peaceful, moderate Muslims speak up against their renegades?


It reminds me of a post I saw on Facebook recently.  It said, "Radical Muslims behead infidels.  Moderate Muslims want radical Muslims to behead infidels."

Yet for those Muslims here in the west we have to respect and protect THEIR rights? Yes, of course we must (to the extent the law prescribes), but how much slack do we have to give them?  Is it OK to be just a little suspicious?

That's a dilemma with a Capital D.