Category Archives: Opinions

GPS monitors

I wish I could say I’m shocked—shocked! Unfortunately, I’m not. Hell, I’m not even especially surprised.
What ignited this rant was an article in the newspaper. I was on page A6 of the Friday, December 16, 2016 edition of the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, under the headline “Sex offender guilty in murder of 4 women.” Now, I am not shocked to see that a man has murdered four women…well, actually, yes I am. But it’s not surprising to see he was a registered sex offender and a convicted kidnapper. Not all, perhaps, but it seems like a lot of sex offenders and kidnappers have a problem relating favorably to members of the opposite sex. What almost shocked me in this case, and lit the fuse to this rant, was the fact that the man just found guilty of multiple murders was not only running around loose at the time; he was wearing his fourth—fourth—GPS monitor.

Apparently Steven Dean Gordon, 47 years old, and 30-year-old Franc Cano acted together, but they are being tried separately for four 2013 killings in Santa Ana, California. Gordon has just been found guilty. Cano’s trial has not yet begun, but he has pleaded not guilty.

Now, while the crime of murder is terrible, it does happen—a case of men, and/or women, behaving badly. What got me worked up begins with the fact that Gordon and Cano were registered sex offenders even before they got together after meeting in prison. In 1992, at the age 23, Gordon was arrested and convicted for lewd and lascivious acts with a child below the age of 14 years. Unknown how much time he served, but he was eventually freed, presumably with his first (1st) GPS monitoring device, because in 2002 he was arrested and convicted of kidnapping. Cano was convicted for his initial crime, whatever it was, in 2008. After serving less than eight years for his kidnapping, Gordon was released with a GPS monitor, his second (2nd). At about that time, in or before 2010, Cano was also released with GPS monitoring. It was in 2010 that Cano cut off his device and took off to Alabama where he got together with Gordon, who presumably had already done the same thing, because they were both arrested there for removing their devices. Back in California in 2012, both apparently free again and with GPS monitoring (Gordon’s 3rd), they were both arrested for doing the same thing again, removing their devices. So, what punishment do you suppose they got? Maybe pick up trash along the freeway on weekends? Even if they spent a weekend, a month or a year in the county jail, they had already demonstrated more than once that they don’t consider the device as a deterrent to fun and games. Well, would you believe they were again released into the world with GPS monitoring devices (Gordon’s 4th)? It was after this release—while wearing their devices—that they kidnapped, raped and murdered four women. That’s how they got caught. Wow! Isn’t science great?

So, how long do you have to serve for the crime of removing your device? Is it a crime? How many chances should a person have to demonstrate that he is willing to play by the rules society has set before we say, “Okay, you blew it, no more releases.”? Why isn’t this offense covered by three-strikes? If it is, who failed to notice? Doesn’t anyone take those things seriously? Are they actually monitored? How closely? Is that all the monitoring system is good for, to keep a record of where and when the person has been in order to get a conviction after they do something else, like kill four women?

Is this the best we can come up with to keep tabs on depraved low-lifes like these two? Why do we use devices they can cut off whenever they get tired of being watched and want to start playing their sick games again? Why don’t we use something nailed or otherwise permanently affixed to their foreheads for all to see? Okay, forget the nails, but surely modern science can come up with something, maybe something like a permanently running camera with a microphone so we can actually monitor their actions from every angle at every moment, waking or sleeping. How about if we attach the new and improved monitoring system to them so it can’t be removed without also removing one or more significant limbs? Maybe we could even include something to inflict a paralyzing shock to them if they are seen to be about to do something naughty, something to hold them until we can swoop in to haul their ass back to the pokey. You know, since we don’t want to actually lock them away forever?

And, why don’t we? Oh, yeah, because they’re sick. At least some folks might say these men are sick. But some illnesses are nothing more than evil, incurable and untreatable. And, if they are sick, what about people with things like Ebola and other highly infectious and potentially deadly diseases? They’re sick, too, and they haven’t even kicked a puppy, probably very nice people, but they aren’t allowed to wander about the country with nothing more than a removable device to tell us where to find the bodies they leave in their wake—unless they cut it off. Why are sickos like Gordon and Cano, who still have the option to decide whether or not to allow their afflictions to affect other people, given such freedom? I’m a big believer in the rights our Constitution guarantees, but I don’t believe Adams, Jefferson, Madison or any of the other founders would agree that this situation is one of them.
No, I don’t believe the system is broken. But, in some cases, it is badly out of whack.

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Surge in gun sales

Well, we did it. We actually passed a law limiting, to a degree, how much access the people of California may have, or be required to tolerate, to a certain type of firearm: automatic rifles with features generally accepted to describe assault weapons. It’s only a ban on new sales, though. Any such guns already owned may still be kept as long as they are registered (yeah, that’ll happen). Of course, as typically happens, the bill that Governor Brown signed back in July doesn’t take effect until January. Now there are headlines spreading the shocking news that, with lines of eager buyers backed up out the doors of gun shops and around the block, the new law is responsible for the six-month-long surge in the sale of these very toys…er, rifles. I think the proper response to this revelation is something akin to, Duh!

What the hell did they expect? It happens every time there’s a push for any kind of gun control, so it shouldn’t have come as a surprise to anyone. Of course anyone that wants to have one of these lethal toys is going to take advantage of the six-months warning that they had better get on with it. If they wait ‘til January, they’ll have to drive all the way to another state to buy it.

As I understand it, the reason for this law is to reduce the ready availability of a very real, clear and present source of death and misery in California. Seems to me that would qualify it for emergency status. You know, pass it to be effective immediately, like the following day, a week at the most. While waiting for these six months to drag by, we have seen more than an additional 250,000 of these lethal toys hit the streets of California, or at least potentially on the streets since most will probably go into closets, hopefully with good locks. And, yes, these steel, wood and/or fiberglass creations are toys. You don’t think so? Look up the definition of toy.

Just because a good, honest citizen is the buyer, you know, doesn’t mean a weapon, whether firearm, knife, hatchet or whatever, will not be used in a crime. Honest people commit crimes. Does that really shock you? Then, think about it. It is only after they commit the crime that they are no longer honest and honorable. Criminals start off as honest people. They are not born as criminals. They are not a separate species. They don’t have tattoos or green hair or three ears to set them off from the rest of society. There is no way to identify who is or who may become a criminal just by looking at them. They are people that take a wrong turn somewhere along the road. Sometimes they use the weapon they bought while still honest and non-violent to become a criminal because it is there so nice and handy when they get the urge to blow someone away—an urge that may dissipate before being acted upon given time. Sometimes the weapon is simply stolen from an honest person by someone who is already a criminal. Criminals also steal. Of course, if the honest person didn’t have it, the criminal couldn’t steal it, and he’d have to find another honest person that did have one that he could steal, if he could find such a person.

But, the thing is, the argument that this law will only affect honest people, not criminals, is bogus. It’s like this: If there were no guns, no one would get shot, period. But, since that is not going to happen—there will always be guns because there already are—any reduction in the increase and spread of guns, especially certain ultra-efficient types, available to criminals or those who may become criminals would still have a direct effect in the number of criminal uses. If there were 250,000 fewer assault weapons in a given area, say only 1,000,000 instead of 1,250,000 it would mean 250,000 fewer assault weapons available for criminals to use in that area. Of course, that’s not counting shotguns, assault weapons and muskets brought into the area from other areas, which is another issue, but with the same potential solution of reducing that area, also, by 250,000, or any number. It wouldn’t solve the whole problem, but it would be a start. A journey not begun, you know, is one never completed.

You may have noticed I haven’t mentioned the Second Amendment. I haven’t because it is not part of this issue, which is about the effects and the wisdom of delaying the implementation of a new law. It could equally apply to a law about…oh, say requiring red shoes worn on the right foot to have green laces, not blue ones. If there were a recognized serious health or safety reason for the restriction, why would we agree to give as many as 250,000 red shoe owners six months to stock up on blue laces? Oh, yeah, financial hardship for the stores selling shoelaces, as well as the factory producing them at an increased rate, all of which would be stuck with the huge inventories of blue laces they all stockpiled when their market forecasters saw the goldmine the writing on the wall predicted with the new law that was probably coming.

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Stuff in the news

I took a break from working on the revisions of one of my books by browsing through my Santa Rosa newspaper, The Press Democrat. Now, there were lots of things in there that were worthy to pass along, but I’m not going to copy the whole paper in my blog, just the stuff that grabbed my attention, pulled me back to re-read the headline and demanded I read the entire article. After each one, I just sat there and mourned the human race.

These first three were in the Friday, July 15, 2016, issue. I’m not going to reproduce them here, just the gist.

On page A3 I found a great illustration of the term “how dumb can you be?” In response to a report of one or more small fires in a mobile home park, the emergency responders went from home to home to make sure nothing was overlooked. When they checked one of them, they found something that prompted them to evacuate the park. Sitting on the window sill of a bedroom was a device consisting of several unmarked sticks in brown paper wrappings and held together with a couple of strips of black tape. Attached to them was a small electronic board with various components and wires, a couple going into the end of one of the brown sticks. Mounted on top was a digital read-out with four spaces of red numbers. A photo of this thing accompanied the article. It sure looked like a bomb, at least the ones Hollywood puts in movies. The bomb squad destroyed it. When they finally contacted the resident, who was away at work at the time, they were told it was an alarm clock he had bought on line a few years ago…as a joke. Ha ha ha. Gosh, that’s funny. I’ll bet the firemen are still laughing.

On page A5 was a story about a couple of guys that chased Pokemon phantoms right off a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean. How could you not notice the Pacific Ocean? Anyway, neither was killed, but they had to be rescued. Hope they were billed for the entire cost of the rescue–times two for stupidity in progress. I can see this whole Pokemon situation is going to get a lot worse before it goes the way of the Pet Rock. At least I never heard of anyone being attacked, bitten or otherwise injured by a Pet Rock.

On page A6 was a story that put a really sour feeling in my gut. A mother and a father thought it was appropriate parenting to send their children, ages 4, 5 and 6 years, into the desert in the area of Twenty-nine Palms and Palm Springs in Southern California. Apparently they decided the children needed to be punished for something any 4, 5 or 6 year-old should know better than to do, not do, or otherwise behave in an adult manner. And just to be sure the kids didn’t cheat in their learning their lesson, Mom and Dad sent them into the hot sand and cactus-strewn wilderness without shoes or water. I can tell you from personal experience that the sand down there gets down-right toasty in the summer. The children learned their lessons for 45 minutes before being rescued by a deputy. It didn’t say if Mom and Dad were going to be taught a lesson in parenting, just that they had been arrested.

Ah, me. What is my species coming to?

In Sunday’s paper, July 17, 2016, was a Close To Home piece by Jill Ravitch, Sonoma County District Attorney. She made some good points relating to the release and posting on the internet of videos from body-cams worn by police officers. While I agree with lots of folks that some of the ones that have been shown seem to be pretty clear in showing bad police conduct, I have to point out that almost all of them are incomplete. They begin part way into the incident, leaving the behavior leading up to what everyone can see to their imagination or to what supposed eye-witnesses swear happened. But then I remember how I learned in my days wearing a badge that eye-witness testimony is about the least reliable kind of evidence you can have. Everyone sees what they think they see, convincing themselves even more every time they think about it or tell about it that it happened just that way. Maybe even, unintentionally or not, embellishing it here and there–just to make everything that doesn’t fit, fit. I also agree with lots of folks that there are cops that shouldn’t be wearing badges, and I’ll be the first one to rip the star or shield off their uniform if they are proven to be wrong. I’ve known and worked with a couple. But I also know that incidents of bad police behavior are rare. There are lots of points and counterpoints to made in this subject, and it should continue to be thoroughly and thoughtfully discussed. However, the point I want to make here is something everyone seems to be overlooking. If the video from a body-cam is posted on the internet, incomplete as it is in showing enough of what happened to be able to establish just what did happen, how much harder is it going to be to get a jury of 12 people, plus alternates, that have not been biased. And if the video does show the entire incident, start to finish and leaving nothing out (by all appearances) it could be even harder to form a jury of unbiased peers. So, if either side, whether the arrestee punching a cop or the cop punching the arrestee, is charged with a crime, would a fair trial be possible? If a conviction is based largely or primarily on what is in the video that has been on the internet for a year or so by the time it gets to court, how good would a defense attorney have to be to get a reversal at the appellate or supreme court. Would you like to have your guilt or innocence decided on the internet? How about your son’s or daughter’s? Your grandchild’s? Just ponder that for a bit.

And to close out, here is my latest rant, published in Sunday’s paper, July 17, 2016.

EDITOR: Among the many qualities Donald Trump claims is that he is a hugely successful businessman. That he has been, in fact, successful is a whole different issue. But should huge success in business be a plus or a minus in our choosing a person for the position of President of the United States? Because the basic goals of each endeavor are practically opposites, the two call for very different skills, ethics and values. While the ultimate focus of a successful business must be on the bottom line, government at any level should not even have a bottom line on which to focus other than zero. The ideal outcome for any elected government is to come out neutral at the end of the fiscal year, and that is after meeting all requirements of the society in which the leaders are elected. Discrepancy in either direction equals incompetence. When a government or government agency tries to operate like a business seeking a profit, we wind up with a situation like at the University of California where out of state students often receive preference over those from within the state because they pay more. A shark is a hugely successful predator, but do we want him in charge of the pool?

Political donors

While browsing through the newspaper, I came upon a letter to the editor written by James Martin that caused me to stop, read it again, and make a note to myself. It was a short letter in relation to most, and it didn’t really make any new revelations, but the point it made reverberated with me. It addressed an issue that has often been in the news since the U. S. Supreme Court made their astounding decision known as Citizens United, but I don’t recall this particular impact being stated so clearly or in such a succinct manner.

Rather than paraphrasing and possibly (or probably) losing the impact I felt, I will reproduce the entire letter here. It was published in The Press Democrat newspaper in Santa Rosa, California, on Friday, July 1, 2016, under the heading Foreign Donors as follows:

“EDITOR: Since “corporations are people too, my friend,” as Mitt Romney once said, and it’s illegal for foreigners to contribute to American political campaigns, does that mean that corporations that undergo inversion (buying a company in, say, Canada, then moving its headquarters there to avoid U.S. taxes) are allowed to continue to contribute to U.S. politicians and their campaigns?

James Martin
Santa Rosa”

I don’t know Mr. Martin, but it seems to be a fair question. And it is one that might give you a sour feeling in your stomach if you think more than twice about it. It’s a question I’d like to hear answered by those who think Citizens United was a good and legitimate use of the Supreme Court of the United States.

Musing

Sometimes it’s hard getting through a newspaper without having to grab a pencil and jotting down a few opinions. Sometimes they make enough sense and are relevant enough to post. More often they don’t, so I just lay them aside. When I read them later, I often toss them into the round file, but sometimes they strike a chord. Sometimes it depends on what things have been making recent headlines. And, then, sometimes I just go back through them and get all worked up again. When that happens, I think…yeah, post it.

Here are a few short ones:

Leave or stay in Iraq

Should we delay leaving Iraq? That’s a question we’ve been asking for a few years. Should we leave thousands, or even hundreds of troops there for yet another year to keep trying to arm, train and advise the Iraqis to step forward as one and protect their own? If we give guns to any three Iraqis, two of them will shoot either each other or the third. A bloodbath may be unavoidable whenever we do leave for good. Remember the chaos surrounding the last chopper out of Saigon? It’s a different world now with different issues, sorta, but the result may look the same. We have already delayed a decade even as we vainly tried to justify going there in the first place. Michael O’Hanlon of the Brookings Institution once said he would “wait until we have an Iraqi government, and do it with the Iraqis together.” Well, I suppose it’s conceivable there might be an efficient, effective Iraqi government someday, somewhere, just not in Iraq, at least not until sometime after Hell freezes over, although probably before there is peace in Israel. Unless another Saddam comes along and is allowed to beat and bash Iraq into the single nation we are insisting upon, one once again held together by the brutality of a steel fist, the chances of a unified, let alone functional, national government over all of Iraq is about as likely as one in Afghanistan.

Tribal Conflicts

I have come to the conclusion that the problems in the Middle-east, Africa, and most other areas in the world are not solvable by methods that the civilized world is willing to use. Those societies are still based on tribal law, whatever that may be. Problem is, with more than one tribe involved, more than one set of laws are pushed. Then it’s a matter of which tribe is strong enough to force their laws on every other tribe. No matter what advances these countries make, any disputes will be settled in the only way they know: by whichever tribe is strong enough to push their solution to fruition and God, Allah, or Zeus help the local innocents if either side has access to modern weapons. Civilized (?) countries may become involved because of natural resources or strategic locations that might affect their national security, but there is only one way to end the tribal wars that result in so much brutal slaughter. A national leader from the area involved, if it is to remain a sovereign nation, must rise to power and exert such brutality in his enforcement of whatever laws he deems appropriate that everyone else stops fighting and cowers in fear. Remember Sadam Huisain? When it comes right down to it, most cultures in this world cannot be trusted with weapons more advanced than sharp knives, and dull ones would be better.

Re: Complaints of women wearing yogi pants in Montana (did you hear about this one?)

One or more guys (I don’t remember just who they were) up in Montana got all worked up about women wearing tight–really tight–pants, the kind that don’t leave a whole lot to the imagination. I guess all those womanly shapes are giving them too many ideas; the kind righteous, married men shouldn’t be having. And, of course, the fault is all on the women, not the guys. Yeah! If a woman is assaulted it’s her own fault for putting temptation right out there where a guy can’t avoid it! Right? Yeah! Apparently, that’s the thinking behind all the good reasons the women in the middle east have to wear enough to make a person have to guess what gender they are, except that a man over there certainly wouldn’t wear such a thing. Over the centuries, even a lot of the women over there don’t feel comfortable unless they are covered over. Do all men have as much trouble resisting their own lurid impulses as those in fundamentalist worlds where a woman, a supposed creation of God, must always conceal her body beneath shapeless tents in order for men to not be exposed to temptation, or is it just the righteous few? Did God really create what He did and then give it all to men, and that everything is for men to use or abuse as they see fit? Are men really so great, so deserving? Yeah? Well, why? Is God really so petty and devious that He created women’s beauty to be a temptation against which men are tested daily? Is God really so small? Could a god so small create something as grand as the universe—or even conceive of it? Or did God, in creating the universe, create men and women and all the rest from tsetse flies and butterflies to vales and whales, from quarks to quasars, so that they all may exalt in the beauty and magnificence of all existence, and in so doing, in His? If there is a God, I would find this latter description much easier to accept of the author of all creation.

And, then, there’s this. Are we alone?

As inspiring as a lot of letters, papers and declared opinions might be regarding the chances, hopes, and/or fears (?) of ever discovering evidence of life anywhere other than Earth, they still present the concept of finding life “out there” as an “if” proposition instead of a “when.” Okay, I understand a fact is a fact only after it is proven, but come on!
Don’t you think it’s sorta presumptuous to think the entire universe was created just for us. We can’t even see a vast majority of it. Try this: Imagine some of the microbes on a crystal of silica containing exactly 147 facets in the middle of a southern California beach look out at all the other grains of sand close enough to see and opine that microbial life is probably there, too, given the vast number of potential grains. But, ignoring trillions of grains stretching out in all directions, other microbes reject that possibility, arguing that their creation in the deposit of whatever it was that plopped onto their grain could only have happened by divine intervention, thus they are unique on all the beach, plus on all other beaches, as some claim to exist, although probably in some other dimension since there is obviously not room in creation for more than one beach. And besides, they point out, in all the thousands of grains they have looked at, none are crystals of silica with 147 facets, which is obviously an absolute requisite for life to occur at all.
Could happen.

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A New Conspiracy Theory

Just where did The Donald come from…really? No, I don’t mean which planet, although that might be a legitimate question. I mean, is he really an honest to goodness candidate for the office of President of the United States? A job with an annual salary, including benefits, that is about what he makes in a day? Or is it an hour? And this is a guy that can’t stop crowing about how much he is worth. Is it that he has all the money he needs or wants (no, seriously), and that he really does want to make this a better country, at least in his opinion? Is all his bombast just a holdover from his days on TV when such a thing would improve his show’s ratings, and he really doesn’t know any better than to think it is also appealing to thinking people out in the real world? Are all the outrageous opinions and ideas for solutions of the nation’s problems that he keeps coming out with really from his mind and heart (assuming he has either)? Or is it something else?

Are we all being taken for a ride?

Is this whole Donald Trump for President thing nothing but a red herring?

Is it all just something to outrage and occupy anyone not in the GOP’s inner circle while the other candidates look pretty good in comparison? I can see Trump going along with something like that. He’d love being the face on every TV news broadcast and the headlines of every newspaper, even overshadowing the Democratic candidates. That is, if he really is the obnoxious fool everyone is assuming him to be. Maybe when he was a kid, all he really wanted was to be a clown when he grew up. But Daddy merely laughed and said, “No. Here’s million dollars, now go play like a good boy.”  Hell, he may actually be a smart, serious businessman who had developed an on-screen persona for a popular, money-making TV show that is ready-made for this role, and he is merely doing his part by temporarily staying in character for the Grand Ole Party as he was asked. He’d get to be as obnoxious as he wanted, the worse the better, until the true GOP candidate secured the nomination. It could even be someone chosen long ago by those deemed to be the power behind the throne, perhaps someone not yet included in the present horde of candidates who could be smeared by the mud being slug about, someone to be brought out later when Trump has done all the damage he can safely do and can be withdrawn. And then, with a big-business-friendly president in the White House, he could go back to concentrating on making even more weekly millions while trying to score with Miss Universe or whatever he does for diversion.

And, when you consider it, a lot of that could also apply to Carson?

The only thing that would work better for the GOP would be if Trump and/or Carson could then be switched over to grab the nomination for the Democratic Party…maybe as president and vice-president. That way the GOP’s true candidate would win the election by unanimous vote. Even Reagan wasn’t unanimous.

Okay, if he really does withdraw from the GOP and runs as an Independent, I’ll withdraw these “suggestions” that, otherwise, seem to me to be altogether reasonable.

I mean, come on, people! Donald Trump is a successful, billionaire businessman. He may have gotten his start with a million dollar stake from Daddy, but he, not Daddy, still turned it into billions. How many MBA’s could do that? No way could he have done that if he was really the obnoxious fool he is portraying to the public. It’s entertaining, but, frankly, I don’t buy it.

Does the GOP have anyone devious enough to put something like that together?

I wonder what Carl Rove has been doing lately.

Okay, now, folks–put down the pitchforks. This was all tongue-in-cheek.  You know, just joking.  A great, elaborate hoax like this could never really happen…not in America…not in the twenty-first century.  …Right?  …Could it?

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Use of force in Lock-ups

“You’re talking about people who have no rules.”

That’s what deputy Scott Lewis of the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Department was quoted as saying in “Tasers used weekly at county jail” in The Press Democrat on Wednesday, November 4, 2015, about people in custody who are subdued with Tasers and other forms of control when they refuse to submit to control, something that reportedly occurs at the Sonoma County jail about once a week or so.
He also said, “This isn’t a college campus. These are people who, for a million different reasons, don’t have the same behavior control as other people.”

Other people, for various reason, are saying these methods are also used as extra-judicial punishments, or, at the least, as an unnecessarily extreme method when lesser methods may be just as effective, or even more so.

When Esa Wroth, a young man of 28 years, was being booked for DUI, he was apparently uncooperative enough to be tasered 23 times. There is apparently a 29 minute video in support of his claim for three million dollars. It does seem to be a bit excessive–both the 23 times and the three million dollars. You have to wonder what he did that he had to be zapped 23 times.

Seems to me it would have been better to just delay booking until he is sobered enough and calm enough to cooperate. If there is a policy requirement that booking must be completed immediately upon his arrival at the jail facility, that may be one of the problems. Maybe they should take another look at their policies and question if they are in need of improvement.

I my days behind the badge, I took in good number of people to be booked who were less than cooperative. One way to handle them was to pound them until they did cooperate, although, I actually never did that myself, nor did I ever see it done. Another way was to con the guy into cooperating. It’s not all that hard to do with some of them. I arrested a guy for fighting in the street. Since he might still be around, I’ll just call him The Mountain (he was big, like one click was all I could get on the cuffs when I put them on his wrists). Fortunately, he didn’t resist arrest or give me any problems until I was almost finished with booking. In those days, we had to do three separate, original fingerprint cards, one for our records, one for the state, and one for the FBI. I finished everything with The Mountain’s booking except for the last two print cards. That’s when he said he wanted to make his phone call. I told him he had to wait until we finished booking. He said, he he wouldn’t let me finish booking until after he made a phone call. I could have hit him over the head with something, or maced him or some other senseless violent act, none of which would have convinced him to let me finish the booking. I could have just locked him in a cell until he agreed to complete booking, something that I had done with many others. If he had to sit there for a day or so…oh, well, his choice. Instead, I said, “I’ll tell you what, Mountain, if you’ll let me do just two more of these cards, I’ll skip the rest for now and let you make your phone call. Okay?” He thought about it for a few seconds and said, “Okay. It’s a deal.” We finished the two cards, he made his phone call, I put him into a cell, and he went to sleep happy. Our policy was to complete booking on any arrested person–if they cooperate.  they don’t, they go into a cell until they do. However, they could not be bailed out or get released in any way until booking was completed. And in those days, when we used actual ink on paper for fingerprinting, we did not want to try to book a falling-down drunk who might have to hang onto my shoulder with his inky hands while I rolled the fingers of his other hand. He would just wait until he had slept it off in the tank.

In today’s law enforcement, there seems to be an urgency to regain control. At times, I agree, there is a legitimate reason for the immediate restoration of control. But there are a lot of times when a little patience will accomplish more that tasers, batons, pepper spray, and fists, and a lot of times even quicker. If a policy demands something to be accomplished immediately, whether it is booking an uncooperative arrestee or overcoming a barricaded gunman, maybe it should be reconsidered. Few things–other than a brick wall–are justifiably inflexible. And, it would be beneficial if even a brick wall could flex at times, like in an earthquake.

Guns, again

Okay! Enough, already! How many times do we have to have this conversation? What does it take for the message to get through?

Guns kill people.

Three words that are simple, easy to pronounce, and are clear in meaning. Yes, people kill people, too–usually with guns. Did you note that? Usually–with–guns. Yes, they may also kill with knives and clubs and poison and any number of things, like sharp pencils. But, if they use those weapons, they usually only kill one person and then run like hell. The great (?) thing about guns is that they can shoot one person, point the damned thing at someone else and shoot him, too. Then, if so inclined, do it again…ten times…twenty times…or more. There is really no limit to how many people they can kill one right after another as long as they have preloaded their clips and don’t forget to point the muzzle end of the gun at the victim instead of themselves.

Ah, but then comes the argument: The only thing that can stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.  What a great soundbite!  Unless you stop to think about it and all the ways it’s a terrible soundbite. Imagine if all the folks who considered themselves to be good guys–they just don’t wear white hats so we can tell they are the good guys–were walking around with S&Ws or Berettas or Colts, or any of those other brands manufactured for the primary purpose of easy, multiple killings, in a handy pocket or purse. Now, imagine a scenario in which a bad buy (but one without a black hat) takes his gun to someplace like an elementary school or a college campus or a darkened movie theater (hey, it could happen) to see how many innocents he can shoot before a good guy with a gun stops him.  Because it’s a popular movie, lots of good guys are at the theater with their wives, children, girlfriends, boyfriends, or alone.  At a pre-selected (or maybe not) point in the movie, he pulls out his gun and starts shooting in all directions because he knows about every seat is occupied.  Naturally, when the good guys see the flash of his shots and hear the booms, they surmise that it has to be a bad buy because good guys don’t do that sort of thing.  So a good guys slaps leather, draws a bead on the shooter, or just points his own gun in his general direction since it’s so dark he can’t really see him, and starts shooting.  After all, the bad guy is still shooting, people are still screaming and falling over each other, so immediate action is needed.  However, all the other good guys, none of which are wearing their hats, see the flashes from his gun and assume there are two bad guys, so they all open fire on both of them. Of course, in the darkness, none of the good guys shooting at presumed bad guys can actually see their targets, but, action is needed. Each one knows he is a good guy, and, because people are screaming, he knows bad guys are (probably) shooting them.  Before you know it, every other person inside the theater is shooting at gun flashes in every direction.  Meanwhile, the bad guy who started it all is sitting in the corner watching and laughing; or maybe he just turned and left after his first few shots, knowing all the good guys would finish what he started.

This particular scenario has not happened–yet.  Not this complete scenario, although one may have come close.  But there appears to be no end to the insanity in this country, so hang in there.  The above described action adventure may be coming soon to the theater near you.

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Pitts: If Sandy Hook is ‘bearable,’ what is | The Press Democrat

You may cringe to hear the nation’s response to the 2012 massacre of 20 young children at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Ct., described as being an end to the debate. But you can’t deny the brutal truth of the observation.

Source: Pitts: If Sandy Hook is ‘bearable,’ what is | The Press Democrat

Driving in America

Well, school has begun for the year, and the annual increase in insanity on the road has returned.   Anyone else notice?  I’m not sure if it really gets worse every year, or if I’m just getting older.  Most likely I’m getting older, but that doesn’t mean drivers aren’t also getting worse at the task of driving.  Maybe it’s because they don’t understand that it is not only a task, but it is one that is best done on its own and not as merely another part of multi-tasking.  Honestly…

Thank God I no longer have to insert myself into the insanity of commuting on the US 101 freeway, anymore.  I still drive to work every morning, just not on 101.  But I’m sure I’m not the only person out there that has seen all sorts of multi-tasking while behind the wheel.  I’ve seen normally sensible people eating breakfast, and not just a one-handed affair with a McDonald’s or similar outlet’s ham and egg sandwich.  I mean eating cereal from bowl held in one hand with a spoon in the other while steering with elbows.  And, of course, brushing teeth afterwards is certainly necessary–while still behind the wheel in bumper to bumper traffic traveling at anywhere from stop-and-go to sixty-plus MPH.  Fairly common sights are ladies driving with their elbows while applying various items of make-up while their main focus in on their image in the mirror, either rear-view or fold-down on the visor.  Or, how about the guy I saw in my rear-view mirror with the lower portion of his face hidden behind a newspaper held across his steering wheel, and only occasionally glancing up at the real world beyond his windshield?  Come to think of it, I saw him more than once.  I couldn’t swear it was the same guy, though, since I could only see his eyes once in awhile.

Yes, I am free from the insanity on the US 101 freeway, but not all insanity.  Just driving from one side of town to the other, I still use a local freeway, just not one as fun as US 101.  But, then, city street traffic has its own version of insanity.  I’m not talking about a big city, either.  Santa Rosa is only about 160,000, and spread out over a few square miles.  It’s normally not too bad, though…unless you look at the details.

How high should one have to count before pulling into an intersection after getting a green light?  Five would be risky, and ten should be fairly safe, but do you really want to bet your life on it?  Sure as hell, when you do, someone is going to come bombing through because he is running late getting to work, or getting home from work, or getting to wherever it is that is so important for him to get to, and he and two or three tons of steel are going to join you in your front seat.  But, if you don’t jump out there as soon at the light goes green, the guy behind you is going to start laying on his horn.  And, try this sometime when you are sitting at a red light watching the cross traffic go by:  count the number of cars driven by cell phone users.  It might be easier to count the ones that aren’t driven by someone whose attention, or at least half of it, is not pulled away to some far away place.  And then, there are the really scary ones with their attention focused on their laps as they barrel through or make a left turn into the lane beside you.  We can only hope their laps are occupied by a cell phone on which they are texting, and not some lesser, baser activity.

At those hours in the morning and afternoon when parents are transporting our future to and from school, the numbers of cars seems to double, at least.  And I could never understand that.  Does that mean during the summer when the kids aren’t in school, both parents aren’t holding down jobs?  I remember when it used to be like that, but those years have long ago faded into the murky past.  And I wonder how many of the cars en-route to or from schools are among those idiots that apparently have no idea what a big red stop sign means when it swings out from the side of a school bus stopped at the curb with red lights flashing front and rear.  I have counted five, six and more cars just whiz on past those temporary, mandatory no-travel zones, and probably swearing at the bus drivers for blocking their roadway.  I’m not sure what would be the best answer for that.  Having a fleet of police cars escorting each bus would do it, but that would be expensive.  How about gattling-gun mounts similar to what Apache helicopters have, with each bus also carrying a gunner dedicated to its operation.  Naw, someone would sue.

Although driving isn’t necessarily a venue for entertainment, it can be if you can avoid being caught up in the insanity and merely observe it around you.  A great place for this is just about any place where a multi-lane roadway necks down to fewer lanes.  It’s like watching the scramble for position when the green flag flies at Indianapolis.  You’d think they really bought into those new car commercials where the manufacturers demonstrates how their cars really can do the stuff you only see in Mission Impossible movies.  Everyone is going to do their best to get to the narrows first, even if they know it means slowing to a crawl in the line of cars on the now reduced width road.  It’s like they take it as a personal assault on their dignity if someone manages to get there ahead of them.  I wonder, do schools still teach children how to stand in line and wait for their turn before moving ahead?  Are they still taught to yield to each other when they both arrive at the door then proceed with mutual respect.  Do they learn to back off when approaching their goal if another child is closer, falling in behind to be next in peaceful, polite manner instead of rushing forward to beat the one that would, otherwise, get there first?  If they are taught these things, at what point are they allowed to no longer practice what they have learned?  When does it become okay to rush forward, making it a race to the door or slide or swing or whatever?  When do they realize no one is going to stop them from cutting in line unless whoever they are cutting in front of is bigger, meaner, and more likely to violently teach them better manners?  Why has it become another function of the police to intercede in school discipline?  But, that is a matter that deserves a blog all its own.

What is this aversion in recent years to closing up the space between your car and the one in front when you all come to a stop at a red light?  If ten cars are stopped in the same lane, at least five will leave at least a full car length between it and the one in front.  Is this what the driving schools are teaching, now? Do they say you should be able to see the back tires of the car in front of you to be sure you won’t be shoved into him if someone slams into your rear?  And, if that’s the case, are they also teaching it really isn’t necessary to see ten or fifteen feet of pavement behind those tires, or do they just leave it to the judgment and the paranoia of the drivers.  Maybe it was when the price of average cars climbed to fifteen, twenty, thirty, fifty thousand dollars that everyone became obsessed with avoiding damaging their investments by using the same thinking that takes up two adjoining spaces in parking lots for the shinny, new baubles.  One problem that goes unattended when this occurs is that a number of cars are forced to stop at the last intersection back even though that light is green.  And if someone creeps ahead into that intersection, where, after all, the light is green, he is likely to still be sitting there when his light turns red and the cross traffic then has to wait until he can move out of the way.  I know it’s not because of all the huge SUVs and pickups on the road now that are mixed in with the smaller, modern cars.  Back before this driving technique began, most of the cars on the road were humongous machines out of Detroit that were as long as the monsters on today’s roads.

Anyway, that’s what I think.  How about you?

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