Archives for May 2011

Breaking my rose-colored glasses

I admit it — my vision of America has always been an idyllic one. Living with an eternal optimist for twenty two years now hasn’t helped matters. My wife always sees the glass half full, not half empty.

My father taught me to cooperate with the police. Their  job is “to protect and to serve” the general public. Good cops were nice guys, like Andy Griffith. Sometimes they were gruff good guys, like Kojak.  Bad cops were usually just lazy or incompetent, not mean and stupid.

Or so I once thought. Now, I’m not so sure.

Without a doubt, police work can be a tough, dangerous and mostly thankless job.

If we were not already going broke as a country, spending money on social programs like drunken sailors on shore leave, it might make sense to increase police pay for the rank and file officers. We would attract better, more qualified people in the process.

Even as I wrote the blog entry titled Police State, I deluded myself to believe the sort of incident described in the article was isolated.

Nevertheless, it chilled me to the bones to think a cop ignorant of the law did not hesitate to draw his weapon and detain, threaten and harass a citizen conforming with local ordinance.

There’s plenty of aggressive and/or violent nuts in the general public who are roaming the streets without the cops joining them. Lunatics everywhere are doing crazy stunts like threatening people at Dairy Queen with a grenade, trying to use a sword at Pizza Hut to similar effect, or two female thugs beating the crap out of a transvestite at McDonalds for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Mean people suck!

I don’t know what is more appalling — that two women relentlessly and viciously assaulted an innocent victim with so little provocation, or that several grown men stood there and watched.  One even videotaped it but did nothing to intervene and help the victim, instead warning the attackers that the police were coming.

We need the police to protect us from people like this.

But who will protect us from the police?

You might be thinking that we have no reason to fear our men in blue, right?  They defend against injustice, stop crimes, catch the bad guys.

Then I read about the police in Arizona, who shot an Iraq war veteran more than 60 times in the process of conducting a drug raid.

The article from ABC news reported Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik “scolded the media for questioning the legality of the shooting.”

Really?  We aren’t even allowed to wonder what happened?

Shot sixty times in less than seven seconds, left bleeding to death for more than an hour before paramedics were allowed to touch him, and we aren’t supposed to have questions?

The victim was an Iraq war veteran who served two tours of duty and had two family members killed in a home invasion in the past year.

Might he legitimately have mistaken the police for criminals in the act of invading his home as they attacked without warning, sirens or flashing lights?

The police have refused to confirm or deny reports that no drugs were found in the house.

Clarence Dupnik…why is that name familiar?  Ah, yes, it’s come to me — he’s the idiot who blamed “right wing rhetoric” on the attempted assassination of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.

In truth, the radical left wing propaganda of “truthers” polluted Jared Loughner’s troubled mind.

So forgive me (or don’t) for refusing to take Sheriff Dupnik’s word at face value.

On the other hand, these are isolated incidents, right?  We don’t have to fear bad cops everywhere, do we?

Except today’s depressing news is courtesy of metro Washington DC police. Two cops grab a man sitting in a wheelchair by each arm and slam him face-first on a concrete sidewalk in the process of arresting him.

The police released a statement that claimed, “The patron resisted arrest which resulted in him falling out of his wheelchair.”

Civilian witnesses vehemently disputed that official statement.

The police version of events is unfortunately contradicted by video as well, which clearly shows two burly uniformed officers forcibly lifting the man from his chair and slamming him to the ground, landing on top of him.

If you still aren’t worried, think about this little nugget.

The Indiana Supreme Court ruled that the police have a right to enter your home without permission or warrant, for any reason at all.

The 4th Amendment just got trampled upon.  Several hundred years of legal precedence tossed out the window.

And if you’re thinking the U.S. Supreme Court is our best hope and defense against this erosion of personal freedom, think again. It just issued a truly abominable ruling of its own.

The “high” court of last resort just decided 8-1 that police who believe they smell marijuana can force their way into a private residence without a warrant under the guise of fearing “those inside were destroying incriminating evidence.”

Throughout my lifetime, I’ve heard or read a number of stories where guilty people were acquitted of heinous crimes on a technicality.

Murderers were often released because they weren’t read their rights, or the warrant had a technical error. The rule of law was more important than any individual case.

Now the courts seem to be saying, screw rules, screw precedents, screw warrants.

Do whatever you want if you have a badge. Cops can now claim they thought they smelled pot and use that excuse to enter your house without warning or warrant.

The pendulum has swung to the other extreme.  Innocent people are slowly learning to be afraid of the police, who now enjoy near absolute power.

Lord Acton warned us, “Absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

We are being conditioned to live in fear and not to resist the authority of the police.

Yet I wonder — how are we supposed to tell the police from the criminals?

 

 

Finding the right candidate

Herman Cain will make an outstanding President if Americans are bright enough to elect him.

He’s smart, articulate, successful, and he seems to have clear ideas that he communicates in no-nonsense language that most people will easily understand, even if they don’t agree with him.

He’s also the equivalent of a Republican “secret weapon” because he’s black.  It takes the race card out of the deck when playing politics.

I admit it — I want to vote for a black man for President as I vote to replace Obama next year.

The primary reason I oppose voting for Obama is that his economic policies have been disastrous.

I vehemently disagree with his stated policy regarding the redistribution of wealth.

Now it seems that no one is very concerned about what will happen when the health care system of America evolves into single payer, another stated Obama policy objective from long before he was elected President.

The whole goal of Obamacare is to put the health care system under the control of the federal government, not insure 40 million more people.

What good will insurance coverage be if it takes between 6-12 months to get a doctor’s appointment?

We aren’t adding enough doctors to replace those who have gone on record to say they plan to retire before allowing the government to control their compensation.

Obama’s own brother-in-law is a doctor opposed to Obamacare, which is killing the incentive to study and practice medicine.

Think about it — malpractice insurance premiums are obscenely high.  You can be sure the lawyers will oppose any reform of the legal system to help keep doctors practicing medicine.

The new law will require doctors to treat patients and dictate their compensation for doing so.  The patient may still sue the doctor for a seven figure judgement, if he happens to make a mistake.

John Edwards managed to convince some juries that even birth defects can be attributed to doctor mistake. As a result, doctors now practice preventive medicine, meaning they perform unnecessary medical procedures to avoid being sued.

Would you practice medicine under these developing circumstances?  Is it worth going through the debt accumulated from attending medical school?

We’ll all have health insurance  but only a few, very overworked providers.  That’s a recipe for disaster.

The talking heads voice the conventional wisdom and have said that Cain cannot win because he’s never held political office.  He ran but lost a race for a U.S. Senate seat from Georgia.

But it isn’t his fault we weren’t smart enough to elect him.  Let’s prove the talking heads wrong (again.)

If failure to hold public office is the major obstacle, how about Herman Cain for Vice President and let’s draft Allen West for President?

West currently serves in Congress and led troops in combat beforehand. How more qualified can you get?

Both men share three very important attributes.  Unfortunately, we haven’t progressed beyond the point where all three bear mentioning.

  1. Allen West and Herman Cain are both articulate and successful.
  2. They both demonstrated proven leadership skills, in the military and big business, respectively.
  3. They are both black, eliminating the race card from the next presidential election cycle.

In my mind, only the first two points are truly relevant to their qualifications, but I mention the third point because racial politics will factor in the next election unless both candidates have the same skin color, unfortunately.

The perceived “best” Republican candidate, Chris Christie, has repeatedly said that he isn’t running.

I really like Christie’s direct and to-the-point style, but he isn’t running.  And there’s no reason to believe he would do a better job than Cain or West as President of the United States.

I believe Christie realizes if he did run, his supporters will ultimately be called racist because they are voting for a white man over a black man. Why not take it out of the equation?

Tim Pawlenty, Mitch Daniels, Mitt Romney and other potential Republican candidates all have the same problem.

About ten percent of America’s population won’t even consider them because of their skin color.

I know this sounds crazy — the only way to defeat the charge of racism in today’s politically correct world is to act like a racist and look for the right candidate with the politically correct skin color.

It’s ideal that both Cain and West appear to be very capable of handling the job.

Why not nominate either or both men as a preemptive strike against the obligatory liberal ad-hominem attack?  They are both great Americans that happen to be black.

Didn’t Vince Lombardi preach that the best defense is a good offense?

Cain and West are not any less qualified than our President when he took office.  I have every reason to believe they would be as good or better than the current crop of Caucasians.

Both men are very intelligent, articulate, and conservative.

Let’s face facts…Mitt Romney probably can’t beat Barack Obama.  He’s governed in similar fashion.  How can he criticize Obamacare when it’s very similar to RomneyCare?

Truthfully, was Obama qualified by his two years experience in the Senate before his promotion to the White House than Herman Cain would be, a former CEO of a large, successful company?

No, Obama just presented an image of articulate competence; he was all style, very little substance.

Either Cain or West (or in a dream, both) could add that substance to the facade of leadership thus far demonstrated by President Barack Obama.

 

Restoring my faith in humanity

If I ever get the chance, I’d like to thank Josh Ferrin personally. He just restored my faith in humanity.

After Leroy Fick almost destroyed that faith and inspired me to write about America’s impending doom, Josh’s story reminded me that America is still full of kind, decent people.

Only an hour after he closed and took possession of a small brick ranch in a town with the appropriate name of Bountiful, Josh found $45,000 stashed in the garage.

Biologist Arnold Bangerter died, leaving the house as part of his estate. His family found a little bit of money in envelopes taped under drawers inside the house. No one realized a small treasure trove remained hidden in the garage in large plastic garbage bags.

In the mind of Josh, was possession 9/10 of the law?  Finders keepers?  After all, he bought and closed on the house.  Weren’t the contents now his property?

Technically, maybe. Josh didn’t see it that way. He realized it was morally wrong to keep the money.

He used the money, all right — to teach his children a lesson about honesty. He insisted they help count it before returning the cache of cash.

Josh told reporter Wendy Leonard (no relation) of KSL News, “The house needs some work. I could use the $45,000 for remodeling, but he didn’t save that money for us. He saved it for his family.”

That’s true, Mr. Ferrin. Thank you for recognizing that and doing the right thing.  My spirit has been lifted.

Thank goodness Leroy Fick didn’t buy the Bangerter house instead of you; he obviously lacks your integrity.

America’s impending doom

Leroy Fick said, “If you’re trying to make me feel bad, you’re not going to do it.”

You might be wondering, “Who the heck is Leroy Fick and why should anyone want to make him feel bad?”

Leroy is the Michigan man who won a $2 million dollar lottery but continues to use food stamps 11 months after banking his winnings.

Let’s get this straight, Mr. Fick — the taxpayer buys your food, and you spend your money instead on a lottery ticket. You have the good fortune to win. You bank and save your money, and shamelessly continue to milk the taxpayer.

You exclaim nobody can make you feel bad about it.

I won’t bothering wasting my breath or effort in the attempt.

I won’t even try to make you look bad, either.

You’ve accomplished that already. The facts speak for themselves.  You obviously have no pride or conscience, Mr. Fick.

Enjoy the money in this lifetime…as we all know, you can’t take it with you.

Police state

W. C. Fields often joked about his birthplace of Philadelphia, even suggesting to Vanity Fair in 1925 that the epitaph on his tombstone should read:

Here lies W.C. Fields.  I would rather be living in Philadelphia.

Were I able to communicate with his ghost, my first question to Mr. Fields would probably be, “Is hell on Earth preferable to death?”

From everything I’ve watched or read about the Philadelphia police, I believe hell would be eternal confinement in Philadelphia at the mercy of these real-life “Keystone Kops.”

Youtube videos made by private citizens showing the Philadelphia police in action range from comical to frightening, multiple incidents of police brutality.

Philadelphia cops act like they’re members of Congress, completely above the law.

This article by John Stossel reports an incident in Philadelphia where a law abiding citizen was accosted, threatened and detained for almost an hour by a policeman who didn’t know the law.

While the story “sounds” hard to believe when you read the print, helpfully Stossel included a link to an audio recording the citizen published of the exchange.

Jurist John Selden famously said, “Ignorance of the law excuses no man.”

What excuse could Officer Dougherty for drawing his weapon on an individual offering to cooperate? Who wasn’t even breaking the law?

No man is above the law, not even a policeman.

If the recorded profanity-laced tirade by a policeman threatening a law-abiding citizen doesn’t send a chill down your spine, check your pulse. Make sure you’re still breathing.

 

Baseball, Civil Rights, and Carlos Santana

This past weekend, baseball celebrated integration of the sport with a banquet and the specially denoted regular season Civil Rights game here in Atlanta.

I misunderstood the purpose of the weekend celebrations.  I thought they were to honor the accomplishments of the exceptional black players who broke the color barrier.

Until Jackie Robinson integrated the sport and Larry Doby followed shortly thereafter, major league baseball was a game for lily white players only.

Black players had once been relegated to play a separate “Negro” league.  For years, the greatest players of their generation never had to face each other.

How many fewer home runs would Babe Ruth have hit if he had to face Satchel Paige for a few hundred at bats? Unfortunately, we’ll never know.

Not every baseball fan wanted black players integrated onto their team at the time. Many were not shy about expressing their negative emotions.

Because of the color of their skin, these great players endured death threats, just for playing a game. They were brave men with great dignity, deserving to be honored by baseball.

Why does baseball’s management have to screw everything up by injecting politics into the events?

During the Braves telecast of Sunday’s game, the announcers interviewed actor Morgan Freeman, winner of this year’s Beacon of  Hope award.  Immediately the question popped in my head, “What’s the connection between Morgan Freeman and baseball?”

I got on the Internet to research the answer to my question.

I love Morgan Freeman the actor. Still I wondered, why is Morgan Freeman receiving an award from baseball?

For that matter, what are these “Beacon” awards, anyway?

It turns out there are three awards given out each year since 2007.

This years (2011) winners:

  • Ernie Banks – Beacon of Life award.
  • Morgan Freeman – Beacon of Hope award.
  • Carlos Santana – Beacon of Change award.

Ernie Banks, the quintessential Cub, deserves every award from baseball.  No problem.

It turns out that Morgan Freeman paid out of his own pocket so a high school from his home state of Mississippi would hold an integrated prom, which sounded pretty cool. So I’m still thinking about these awards, “No big deal.”

Then I get to Santana.

How do I feel about Carlos Santana? Love his music.  His distinctive guitar solos are some of the easiest to recognize. I really appreciate his brilliant talent for playing guitar. That’s why this pains me so much to say what I’m about to say.

So….what did he do to merit his award?

Honestly, I have no idea. I don’t care. Read the article and tell me.

I got so angry when I read his comments in support of illegal immigration that I stopped reading out of concern about the sudden increase of my blood pressure.

Santana irritated me when he said, “The people of Arizona, and the people of Atlanta, Georgia, you should be ashamed of yourselves.”

I thought, What’s this all about?

Then he really made me mad when he added, “This [proposed immigration] law is not correct. It’s a cruel law, actually. This is about fear. Stop shucking and jiving. People are afraid we’re going to steal your job. No we aren’t. You’re not going to change sheets and clean toilets. This is the United States. This is the land of the free. If people want the immigration laws to keep passing, then everybody should get out and leave the American Indians here.”

Hey Carlos — nothing personal but screw you, buddy. I’m certain that I’ve cleaned a toilet more recently than you have. We’re talking about illegal, not legal immigration.

You’ve made me sorry I’ve contributed to your wealth buying your music. I won’t make that same mistake again.

As far as the American Indians were concerned, if they had been a sovereign nation attempting to secure the borders to the country more than three centuries ago, you might have a point.

They didn’t consider themselves owners of the continent. In fact, the legend of Manhattan is that the Indians were screwed out of the island for about $20 worth of beads and trinkets.

The Indians thought they were ripping off the Dutch because they didn’t consider the land their property.

There’s no doubt the Indians made a bad deal.

But it was a deal.  If I make a bad deal selling my car or house, there’s no provision for seller’s remorse. No one forces the seller into making a sale.  When has it ever been the responsibility of the buyer to educate the seller on the value of his goods to sell?

How about if we impose the immigration laws of your home country? Would that be fairer?

Here’s a news flash for you, Carlos.  Mexico’s laws against illegal immigration are much tougher than what we’ve been talking about here, according to every source of information I’ve been able to find on the subject.

You rarely sing.  What made you think you should speak before forming an educated opinion?

Or do you not care about the truth regarding this issue?

And here’s a personal message from one fan to Major League Baseball…if you study statistics, you are well aware of the decline in popularity of “America’s favorite pastime.”

I looked at the past award recipients and saw Harry Belafonte was honored last year.

What are you people thinking? Are you unaware about some of  the things he’s said recently?

Fans of the game will continue to dwindle if you don’t pay attention to baseball  and leave politics to the politicians.