Wednesday, May 30, 2007

delusional homeless

Sometimes the homeless are just delusional. But that doesn't really mean they are dangerous. This guy in Montana is an example of a delusional, nutcase homeless guy, who's probably pretty harmless.
Danny Donovan, 29, said a higher calling brought him to Billings. The Texas native is studying to be a minister.

"I wasn't doing so well back home," Donovan said. "The group of friends I ran around with tended to get in trouble."

Donovan said he'd seen movies about Montana and was drawn to the state's majestic scenery.

He's been staying at the Montana Rescue Mission since April while he takes religious correspondence courses.

Although he does not have any other place to live, he does not consider himself to be homeless.

"This is a good place for a transition," he said. "I have a home back home … Where your heart is is where your home is."


Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Be careful if you don't take your meds

In Wisconsin it appears to be a felony to fail to take your meds. You must do like the doctor says or you'll go to jail. A different set of laws applies to the mentall ill.

Althouse alerted me to this news item
about a homeless guy who actually defended himself and ended up in jail. He has a high bail because those mentally ill homeless vets are all a danger to society. You never can tell when they might defend themselves when some real nutcase attacks them.

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Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Homeless as targets

For some reason I'll never understand, homeless men, harmless homeless men, seem to tend to attract just pointless violent attacks. And not just from teenage boys. You expect pointless violent behavior from teenage boys. Most people don't think of state troopers as having the mental capacity of a teenage boy. But some of them do.
The state attorney general's office charged 29-year-old Gabriel Seibt with felonious assault and misconduct in office, and 30-year-old Todd Parsons, 30, with misconduct in office.

The charges stem from a June incident in Detroit's Greektown area, when the troopers came across a 50-year-old homeless man.

According to Attorney General Mike Cox's office, the troopers detained the man, took him to an alley and sprayed him in the face with a state-issued chemical spray.

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Lifestyle and Political Blogs

The democrats two lead weasels

Ann Althouse is offended by Hilliary and Obama having voting against the unrestricted Iraq funding bill.

I'm offended by the way they behaved like weasels in not taking a public position until all the other votes were counted.

Ann doesn't appear to care about the character of our candidates, just about whether they vote they way she thinks they could. I think character matters a lot and both these candidates lack character.

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Lifestyle and Political Blogs

College for veterans

Inside Higher Education has an article about an academic advising program for wounded veterans. Sounds like a great service. But too bad it's limited to severely wounded, so far they've only helped about 100 vets.

The idea is that the wounded are released from active service and cut off from military resources about academic advising.
“This allows us to fill a gap,” Selbe said. “The Department of Defense, they invest heavily in promoting the value of higher education, and they put a like investment in putting in the resources to ensure access and success in quality higher education programs. The participation is so high that a service member doesn’t need to look far to find someone who can provide them with advice and counsel and the like.

“But once they leave active duty, they lose the convenience and the access to those sorts of advisers.”

That's all fine and good, but it presumes that the resources that the military academic advising is competent. My experience was that it's not.

I knew nothing about college when I was in the service. My mother's family had some college grads, her dad had been an MD, but she was a German war bride, her family was kind of disrupted, and I didn't really know any of her family. My dad's family just didn't have many college grads. His younger brother had graduated from college (he got a math degree from Texas Tech and went in the Air Force), but that was about it as far as the close family. My dad was something of an anti-intellectual, pretty much your classic redneck about those beatnik queers and professional students.

When I was a baby he'd had a seismograph business that did pretty well. But he got hurt and couldn't work the rigs any more, so he sold out to his partner and moved back to Austin, working as a security guard at the University of Texas campus for a while. I think he had a lot of resentment and anger about his injury that ended up directed at students. When he'd gotten out of the Army he'd had a chance to go to college on the GI Bill, but choose the seismograph business instead because it seemed to offer much more opportunity. He made a lot of money for a while, but by the time he got hurt he had two kids and going to college just wasn't going to work out for him.

I was a smart kid, but an often disruptive student so none of my teachers or school administrators ever did much to try to steer me to college. In fact, some of them went out of their way to steer me away from college prep work. I didn't even take an SAT or ACT exam when I was in high school.

When I went in the Navy I stood a few graveyard quarterdeck watches with a young officer who'd gone through the Navy NESEP program, that's a program where the Navy sends an enlisted man to college then gives him an OCS commission when he graduates. He gets payed E5 pay plus tuition while in college a pretty good deal. He talked to me some about college during those midnight to 4 am watches.

The Navy did have some college correspondence courses available through schools like the University of Maryland and my fellow watch stander suggested I talk to the ships education officer for advice about what courses to take.

That's where the official Defense Department advising for potential college students falls through the cracks. The Navy had on official "Education Officer" on each ship. He was a junior officer appointed by the Captain, it was just part-time job, not part of his regular duties. Based on my experience as a sailor on a destroyer, and later in life as a college teacher teaching on a couple of different ammunition supply ships (AE's), not very many Education Officers take the assignment seriously.

I went to our Education Officer for advise about what course to take. In my first 7 months of active duty (6 months of it in Vietnam) I'd completed Navy correspondence courses for Radioman, Personellman, and Petty Officer (3&2 for all those for those of you familiar with Navy courses). I'd been trying to get out of the deck force and finally gave up when I realized that I'd offended the XO so much that I was never going to get out of the deck force and would never be promoted (I'd told him that just because he wanted to suck LBJ's dick didn't mean I wanted to -- I wasn't the brightest 18 y.o sailor in the Navy).

Anyway, having never taken and SAT or ACT, there were no college placement exams to guide the advisor in placement, but I did have the military ARI/GCT scores which the Navy used in general placement. I think those scores were 133, which is pretty high, high enough to have qualified for any program the Navy offered, from OCS to crypto school. So, based on what I know now, I'd think anybody with a basic understanding of college placement would have guessed that I'd be able to place out of some of the first year courses, like composition and math.

Not this clown. Since I didn't have any thoughts about what I might major in he suggested I just take a composition course since wherever I went and whatever I majored in I'd have to take Freshman English. So that's what I did.

Of course the credit didn't transfer when I later went to college, because I placed out of the 1st semester English comp just based on ACT scores. What the lazy, incompetent boob should have steered me to was something like intro to sociology or physics, or some other topic specific course. Something that might not always be required for some degree programs, but something that always would be given credit for. Any degree program would have accepted transfer credit in those subjects, but that turned out to not be true for freshman composition.

Someday I'll tell y'all about that run in with the XO that left me with pretty much no chance to succeed in the Navy. He was new to the ship at the time and I don't think he realized that we were actually in a combat zone.

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Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Monday, May 28, 2007

Cowards in congress

The Supreme Irony of Life has a summary of various blogs trying to explain the extreme cowardness of the democrats in Congress.

He has more on the blind caving of democrats here.

We'd be better off if we just impeached every American who's eaten lunch in DC in the last 10 years and replaced them with names picked at random from the mailing list of Publishers Clearing House.

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Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Community policing in 1964, Texas style

I was reading Jamie Spencers blog, Austin Criminal Defense Lawyer, this morning and noticed he's not just an Austin lawyer, he practices in Hays County also. It reminded me of a personal story about community policing that happened in Hays County, Texas in 1964.

Trip to San Marcos

When I was 15 I had a summer job at a resort ranch in Wimberley Texas.
There was a beer joint on the other side of San Marcos, kind of like
that cowboy bar in Blues Brothers. They had live music on weekends and
if you were underage they'd staple a yellow ticket to your shirt collar
(you didn't get in if you didn't have a shirt with a collar back then)
at the door. At the back of the place they had a little window in the
wall so you could order beer. There were no actual employees on the
floor. Seating was on picnic tables, with a dance floor and a band
stand. I don't recall chicken wire in front of the band, but things
did get rough at times.

One Friday night me and some friends were coming back from there, going
through San Marcos I ran a red light. A deputy gave chase. I didn't
stop. West of town I took a turn on a ranch road with no lights and
without hitting the brakes. The deputy missed the turn so I lost him.
We all went home.

The next day I was out at Eagle Rock Ranch and a kid from town came in
and told me that CJ had sent him out to tell me to come into town to
talk to him. CJ was the constable (in Texas county precincts have
constables) and also was a barber with a barber shop in Wimberley.

So, I drove to town (in my car) and went into the barber shop.

CJ says, "You been to San Marcos recently, Gary?"

Me: "No, sir".

CJ: "Well, I got a phone call from the Sheriff this morning".

Me. Silent.

CJ: "He's looking for somebody who drives a car he got a description

Me. Oh.

CJ. "It's a Chevrolet".

Me. Silent.

CJ. "It's a convertible. 1954"

Me "Really?"

CJ "It's kinda orange colored. But, the driver's door is a light
blue. And the trunk lid is painted black"

Me: "oh".

CJ. "You ever seen a car like that?"

Me. "No sir, I don't think so"

CJ. "Well, if you do, you'll tell me, right?"

Me: "Yes sir".

CJ. "Okay, you go on now".

I turned to leave. he says "You planning on going into San Marcos
anytime soon"

Me: "No sir"

CJ. "Well, iffen I was you, I wouldn't go to San Marcos for a real
long time".

I had originally published this biographical sketch at my main website.

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Lifestyle and Political Blogs

The Knoxville Murders

I first heard about the Knoxville Murders (not to be confused with the murder in the Louvin Brother's song, Knoxville Girl)when gadfly Paul Popinjay posted about it.

He quoted some heavily footnoted wiki entry that described extensively a bunch of horrific stuff. And of course the wiki had a picture of the pretty white girl and pictures of the thuggish black guys accused of doing all this horrific stuff.

One of the wiki links is to a Grand Jury indictment. Two murders. Four defendants with 46 counts each. That's close to 200 indictments for two murders. That's a big number. In some circles that might even qualify to be described as overkill. They even brought separate indictments for oral rape, anal rape and vaginal rape. Why? It looks to me like no other reason than to demonize the defendants. Maybe they are demons, I don't know. But, is that the purpose of a Grand Jury?

Anyway, whenever I see that kind of overkill I start wondering about what the underlying truth actually is? I never think overkill accurately represents truth, I think the whole purpose of that kind of overkill is to obscure the truth. I know such overcharging is common in the US. But the reason it's common is that it's common for police and prosecutors to try to "win" by misrepresentation and intimidation, irrespective of truth.

Also, all the horrific details described in Paul's original wiki quote came from reports of a deputy US marshal. This was a local murder? There's no federal jurisdiction. The thoughts I expressed at the time were
Why is a deputy US Marshall involved in this?

It's a serious question. Without an explanation for that you can't find
anything about the report reliable. Nothing in this story indicates any reason
at all for the US Marshall's office to be involved, so clearly some part of the
story is being left out.

I just don't trust any of those sonsofbitches.

Also, language like "It has been suggested" is a huge red flag that it's all

Are you sure this isn't something Irish Mike got in an email?

The sonsofbitches I referred to was cops, I don't trust anything cops say. Cops are trained to lie and misrepresent things. It's a standard tool in interrogation and police work in general. I just see no reason to trust anything a trained liar says.

Irish Mike is one of the denizens of who often reports urban myths someone sent him via email as factual.

After a web search I found that the US Marshall was involved because of a federal warrant that the ATF got for some weapons charge. Initially a charge of felon in possession of a weapon was the only actual criminal charge they even had probable cause sufficient to get a warrant. To me that sounded like more grasping and stretching truth.

I didn't know what happened but was reasonably convinced that the reports circulating were probably not fully accurate. Here's what I said in the rgp thread
The only charge that's been made that I could find was that one was charged with
felon in possosion of a firemarm, which explains the US Marshall. The ATF filed
a complaint in a federal court and Marshalls would serve the arrest warrent for

They havn't been charged with the murders or rapes, apparantly there's not
enough evidnece even to arrest them on those charges.

Just as I suspected, the story you reprinted was overblown and a

Now my early suspicions have been validated by the Knoxville News (via Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit)
The victims were white. The suspects are black.

Authorities said the case began as a carjacking but wound up a kidnapping, rape and murder. They have said little else, however, tightlipped on every aspect of the case, from where it occurred to how Christian died.

It didn't take long for details -- horrific ones -- to eke out. The problem is, many of them are wrong.

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Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation

Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation
The Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation is a unit award of the United States Navy which is awarded to a command which displays exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding service, heroic deeds, or valorous actions.


Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Feminists who silence feminists

I don't always follow the drama of feminists but I kind of try to keep track a little bit and one of the common themes I see on the internet is that "those people" are trying to silence "us". It seems to be a fundamental tenet of feminism, at least as it's practiced on the web, that a woman's voice is under constant attack from outside forces.

Then I read this post at Feministing. If feminism is a profession, then the multiple posters at Feministing are professional feminists. They describe themselves as feminist writers and put forth their master's degrees in women's studies as if that qualifies as an actual education or professional training of some sort.

One of the things they do at feministing is provide profiles/interviews of other activist feminists with an emphasis on members of non-white/non-hetero groups.

One such interview was that of someone who goes by the netname of Nubian who posts (or posted) on a blog named I'm guessing that's a black woman. Just a guess.

when i was interviewed at feministing and saw the copious amounts of racial hatred spewed at me, i emailed both jessica and celina to remove the infamous interview. jessica told me it was up to celina to remove it and celina told me it was up to jessica to remove it. sadly, i felt that both of them intentionally told me different things in order to avoid taking down the interview. even at my request to remove it, they kept the interview up and subsequently closed comments. i cannot and will not support a “feminist” site that willingly allowed me to be publicly humiliated.

I don't know what the racial hatred was. But just her name and blog name certainly seem to be racial statements, which might expect to draw racial comments. I'm not sure I understand what's so terrible about comments she disapproves of.

But she gave an interview to professional journalists. Feministing is very much a for-profit blog. Feminist journalists or not, they are professional journalists. Why would they want to take down a story that is successfully acquiring attention from readers? Did Nubia think she could control reaction to a story about her written by someone else, published at a site she's not affiliated with? Apparently so. Protect the feminist. Silence the critics. That seems to be her approach to social discourse.

I'm really not impressed. But the drama is interesting. Almost stereotypical female, which I think is kind of funny.


Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Gutless democrats -- an explanation

Ezra Klein offers up an explanation for why the Democrats didn't have the guts to pass a meaningful bill to fund, and end, the Iraq occupation. Learned helplessness.
Welcome to the learned helplessness of the Democratic Party. They've been spanked on national security for so long that they literally cannot conceive of pulling out a win merely because their position commands overwhelming public support. At best, the reprisal will be delayed a few years, until the Right convinces a fickle populace that the Reid-led withdrawal lost the war for us.

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Lifestyle and Political Blogs

National Defense Service Medal

National Defense Service Medal

For service during the Vietnam war, The National Defense Service Medal is awarded to anyone who serves on active duty in the United States military during January 1, 1961 to August 14, 1974

Since everybody got one, we used to call this the Alive in '65 medal. I'm not sure why since it actually dates back to the Korean War.

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Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Combat Action Ribbon

Combat Action Ribbon
To be awarded the Combat Action Ribbon, the individual must have rendered satisfactory performance under enemy fire while actively participating in a ground or surface engagement.

Surface engagement means combat on the water. Ducking qualifies as satisfactory performance.


Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Vietnam Service Medal

The Vietnam Service Medal is presented to any service member who served on temporary duty for more than thirty consecutive days, or 60 non-consecutive days, (Attached to or regularly serving for one, or more, days with an organization participating in or directly supporting ground operations or attached to or regularly serving for one, or more, days aboard a naval vessel directly supporting military operations in the Republic of Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos within the defined combat zone between the dates of 1961-11-15 and 1973-03-28, and from 29 April 1975 to 30 April 1975.

Campaign stars are worn for each campaign time period served in. I served during 3 campaign periods.
Vietnam Counteroffensive, Phase III (Army, Navy, USCG): from 1967-06-01 to 1968-01-29

Tet Counteroffensive (Army, USAF, Navy, USCG): from 1968-01-30 to 1968-04-01

Vietnam Counteroffensive, Phase IV (Army, Navy, USCG): from 1968-04-02 to 1968-06-30

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Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Babbling about detail, missing the point

Reformed Chicks Blabbing has a really long, detailed post using the ramblings of a madman (Bin Laden) to demonstrate that Ron Paul's explanation of why we were attacked on 9/11 is wrong, and so by implication Rudy must be right.

They say it's not as simplistic as Iraq.Well, duh, of course not. Paul didn't say it was either. He mentioned Iraq, he also mentioned decades of meddling in the Middle East. Hell, centuries. Barbary Pirates and all that.

The point is that Rudy's sound bit about how they hate us because of our freedom is something right out of 1984. It's nonsense. It gets applause, but it's nonsense.

They hate us for years and years of us meddling with stuff we don't know anything about, they hate us for our attempts to take title to their natural resources. They hate us for a lot of reasons, and our freedom simply isn't one of them.

Recognition of all the things we've done in the past and still do which have led to the attack on us does not mean Ron Paul is saying we should never have done them. I think in most cases he does think that, but that's not relevant to the simple truths of why the things that have happeded did happen.


Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Ron Paul v. Rudy

This is a really good summary of the Ron Paul v. Rudy and Fox about why all those bad guys hate us for our freedoms.

Update: Here's another link about how Ron Paul is being marginalized simply because the media is uncomfortable with the truth.

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Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Git 'er Done

I've never understood that tagline from Larry the Cable Guy.

He's supposed to be some kind of southern, redneck, country boy type.

I grew up in Texas, went to college in Louisiana, lived in Mississippi, live in Oklahoma. I've lived and worked around redneck country boys all my life.

Git 'er Done is not a favored catch phrase of the redneck class. "Can't we do that in the morning" is the catch phrase of choice for every redneck I've ever known.


Lifestyle and Political Blogs

What does compliance mean?

This is just an amazing newspaper article about the Harris County Jail in Texas (Houston).
Last year, after the jail failed to meet state certification standards for the third year in a row, the commission ordered officials to comply with the state-ordered guard-to-inmate ratio of 1-48.

This really doesn't seem like a tough regulation to comply with. If you can't hire enough guards, for whatever reason, you just start releasing people. Every jail, and Harris County is no exception, is full of people whose only crime is that they don't have the cash to make bail. The county has a tremendous level of control over both how many people get locked up and how many sheriff's deputies are assigned to the jail.

But are they expected to comply in order to be considered in compliance? No, of course not.
County officials appealed and, after they announced an aggressive hiring and overtime effort, the jail was ruled to be in compliance with state standards.

They just have to pretend that they intend to comply at some point in the future.

Read the whole article. That's not the only problem.

Maybe if we make English the official language we can pass a low that requires words to actually mean whatever they mean. Probably not though.

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Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Commie atheist

Ed Brayton has a post that includes a quote from Ellery Schempp.

"I learned that if people were mad at us they would call us 'Communists.' If they were really, really mad, they would call us 'atheists.' When they called us 'commie atheists' they had exhausted their vocabulary - that was the worst they could think of!"

I liked it. It expressed a great truth.


Lifestyle and Political Blogs

The stupid ideas of Ron Paul

On May 19 2007 12:14 AM, billb wrote:

I've seen the claim that Ron Paul has some good ideas and also has some really stupid ideas. He does have a lot of extreme ideas, but I'm not so sure about the stupid part.

There really is a huge difference between a really stupid idea and an idea that's outside the mainstream of thinking. If you read his issues page, most his ideas are really just centered around the basic idea of a smaller government.

Abolishing the IRS isn't one of his goals, it's just something that would occur naturally if we really want to achieve the goals of a smaller, less intrusive government. It's a rational way to achieve rational goals.

You might not agree with his goal of a smaller, less intrusive government, but that doesn't mean the goal is based on stupid ideas or that it's an unachievable goal.

It's not a stupid idea at all to abolish the IRS. It would be difficult, and would have to be implemented over a long period of time, and would require new government taxing institutions to replace it, but getting rid of personal income tax and the IRS is a pretty good idea.

The IRS is very intrusive and is a tool that Congress overuses for really stupid attempts at social engineering. Government tax collection should be about collecting revenue to operate the government, not a tool to encourage the preferred social behavior of the day. It's not the governments place to encourage marriage or home ownership or church membership or any of the other social behaviors that the government uses the IRS to encourage.

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Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Friday, May 18, 2007

Bonnie Parker

Grits for Breakfast, a mostly Texas Criminal Justice blog, has a post up about Bonnie Parker and her poetry. (Bonnie Parker is part of the Bonnie and Clyde duo).

He got some comments that were critical of his post "glorifing" her. That's just silly. Bonnie and Clyde are an important part of the history of criminal justice in Texas. Not just a crime spree but complete with jail breaks and drama of all kinds.

In 1933 and 1934 Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow ran amuck across North Texas and points North. My daddy was just starting the first grade in Alpine, Texas.

He told me once that he developed a lifetime interest in reading when he was in the first grade -- he had to learn to read quickly so he could get up every morning and follow Bonnie and Clyde's exploits reported in the paper every day.

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Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Criminilazation of America

I'm not sure I like the idea of criminilazation of bad mothering.
A driver reported seeing someone pick up a child from the side of Interstate 12 on Wednesday about 40 miles east of Baton Rouge and put him in a van. Authorities feared they were dealing with a kidnapping, said Jason Ard, the Livingston Parish sheriff's spokesman.

Investigators found the boy had actually been dropped off as punishment. The van traveled a short distance down the highway before the mother got out and retrieved him, Ard said. It was unclear exactly how long the child was out of the car but Ard said Friday it was probably only a few minutes.

Parents have a hard job. They get frustrated. They don't know what to do. We don't help things any by they'll go to jail if they make a bad parenting decision.

I'm pretty sure I was never put out of the car on the side of the road when I was a kid. But, you know, it's possible I was and just don't remember it. It was certianly threatened more than once.

The mother in question here didn't leave the child. She put him out of the car, parked, and walked back to pick him up. At least that's what the description sounds like what happened.

Prison time? Don't we have better things to worry about?

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Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Monica Goodling might be in bigger trouble than she thought

If she gets immunity to force her testimony to Congress it will only cover immunity for crimes that haven't been independently investigated prior to her testimony.

It's looking like she might have been better off by not putting the testimony off. They're developing some pretty solid evidence against her prior to her testimony.

It's illegal to make political affiliation (or attitudes about abortion or gay rights or the holiness of Jerry Falwell) a condition of civil service employment within the Justice Department.

Firedoglake is keeping up with the details.

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Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Producing a gun

This police shooting story out of Kentucky sounds eerily similar to the one I mentioned earlier in Memphis.
Two differences. The cop in Kentucky seems to have a history of "shot first, questions later". And, rather than describing it as "pulling a gun" it's described as "producing a gun".

In neither case did language take that extra little step of actually making a direct claim that the gun was pointed at the cop or that there was an appearance of threatening behavior other than just holding the gun. Maybe they weren't sure if there were independent witnesses or not. I don't know. I just don't trust them.

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Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Walter Reed needs more than a change in top management

Joan Baez doesn't "fit".
In a letter to The Washington Post published Wednesday, she said rocker John Mellencamp had asked her to perform with him last Friday and that she accepted his invitation.

"I have always been an advocate for nonviolence and I have stood as firmly against the Iraq war as I did the Vietnam War 40 years ago," she wrote. "I realize now that I might have contributed to a better welcome home for those soldiers fresh from Vietnam. Maybe that's why I didn't hesitate to accept the invitation to sing for those returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. In the end, four days before the concert, I was not 'approved' by the Army to take part. Strange irony."

Has Bush managed to make every single employee of the federal government completely incompetent? That's a hell of an acheivement to have been able to replace every single competent federal employee with Regent Law School grads.


Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Advanced prison management in Kansas

If there isn't enough contraband in your prison all you have to do is make something scarce. Toilet paper would work.
Toilet paper is becoming a sought after commodity at the Hutchinson Correctional Facility after officials began limiting inmates to one roll at a time to trim costs.

Officials say the prison has long had a limit, but they learned recently that it hadn't been enforced. Increased enforcement began this month.

Under the prison policy, inmates are restricted to four rolls of toilet paper each month or on an "as-needed" basis.

Steve Schneider, public information officer for the prison, said officials also restated restrictions on other personal items, including soap and toothpaste, as a result of stockpiling and overuse.

The increased enforcement has angered many of the more than 1,600 inmates housed at the facility.

"Some take this for granted," inmate Carl Kennedy said in a letter to The Hutchinson News. "But in here it's part of a safeguard for widespread infections. We use it to blow our noses, clean sinks, toilets and tables."

Prison officials said the policy could save the prison nearly $600 each month if each inmate uses one less roll each month.

Even if they do save $600 in toilet paper costs, somehow I think this will end up costing them more than just the cost of toilet paper. Forest. Trees. Look.


Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Lesbian art teachers in Tennesse

I just love these kinds of stories.
Headley said that Thorsby, who is in her third year of teaching art at the school, told school officials that she'd been having an inappropriate relationship with a female student.

According to Headley, Thorsby said that she and the student, who is now 18, had been in a relationship since December that began as a friendship but later turned sexual.

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Lifestyle and Political Blogs

45 days off with no pay for looking at internet porn?

I'm not a fan of letting wrong doing cops off lightly. But come on, this is absurd.

I've lived in Austin, I've had actual contact with wrong-doing cops in Austin. I know what kind of brutal, violent, illegal behavior those clowns can get away with.

But, looking at porn on the internet? Work computer or not, during office hours or not, this is just silly.

Okay, reprimand them, put a note in there personell file about the reprimand, take it into account if their name comes up for future promotion. But be realilistic. There are bad cops. Go after them. Leave the nonsense alone.

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Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Betty Bowers mourns Jerry's passing

Betty Bowers, American's Best Christian, mourns the death of Jerry Falwell.
Verily, I am crying as I type. You can imagine my shock in hearing that Reverend Jerry Falwell had been found dead, lying in a pool of his own gravy. First Anna Nicole, now Jerry. Frankly, the Lord seems to be on a fat, attention-whore killing spree! I’d stay indoors if I were Rosie O’Donnell. Well, on second thought, if I looked like Rosie O'Donnell, I'd be running through the streets screaming, "Here I am Lord! Come and get me!"

Read the whole thing.


Lifestyle and Political Blogs

The case of the horny judge

I'm not even sure why this one is a news story, but I think it's really funny.
A woman who who did housekeeping for Criminal Court Judge W. Fred Axley says the judge once asked her for sexual favors in the kitchen of his Bartlett home and she refused.

The allegations by Karen Sisk come in the wake of a Florida incident last week in which a masseuse at an upscale resort in Destin said Axley asked her for oral sex.

The judge was banned from the spa where employees said he made similar requests on a visit last year.

In 2000 and 2001, two former courtroom clerks filed sexual harassment suits against Axley. One case was resolved out of court and the other was dismissed.

Busy guy, this judge.


Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Police can't be trusted

One of the reasons I have a tendency to never take anything a cop says at face value is that they've shown time and time again that they simply can't be trusted.

One of the reasons the drug business is a violent business is that police tend to prey on drug dealers.
A former Memphis police officer pleaded guilty Thursday to conspiring with informants to rob drug dealers and to lying to federal authorities in the Tarnished Blue police corruption investigation.
Orlando Hebron, 36, an officer since 1995, was arrested by the FBI in January, two months after authorities said he and an informant drove to the Budget Mini-Storage at 3417 Fontaine to burglarize a storage unit supposedly used by a drug dealer.

The informant came out with $9,800 in marked bills and four pounds of simulated cocaine they split at a motel in Mississippi.
He admitted later lying to FBI agents who questioned him about the incident.

In a plea agreement filed Thursday, Hebron agreed to a two-year prison sentence that a judge will consider accepting on Aug. 20.

I don't buy the one bad apple theory. This cop, like so many others like him, wasn't busted by cops who knew him. He was busted by an independent agency. The people that worked with him everyday and the people that supervised him simply ignored any signs that they might have seen to suggest they guy was a thug and a crook. That's a rotten barrel, not a rotten apple.

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Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Threatened with a gun

I have no idea if this police shooting is justified or not. I'm pretty sure that the official position will be that it was justified, but I'm equally sure that nobody is going to put much thought into that official position.

The newspaper article is short, doesn't really say much, but two parts stand out to me.
A Memphis police officer shot and wounded a suspect who pulled a weapon tonight, officials said.
About 7:15 p.m., a person flagged down two police officers in the College Park public housing area not far from Elmwood Cemetery, saying a man in a nearby park had threatened him with a gun, Memphis police spokesman Sgt. Vince Higgins said.

The officers responded and called to the gunman, who took off running. They pursued until the man turned, weapon in hand.

The cops says the guy "pulled a weapon". That implies an aggresive act on the part of the suspect. "Pulled a weapon".

But then he says the guy turned, "weapon in hand". That sounds like he'd been carrying the gun the whole time he'd been running.

There is a difference between pulling a weapon and having a weapon in your hand. It's a small difference, a subtle difference. But it's a difference.

Anyone who pulls a weapon is making a clear aggresive act. You should be concerned when someone pulls a weapon.

But someone having a weapon in his hand isn't making such a clear aggresive act. Maybe he's being aggresive, maybe he isn't. It's really not going to be that clear.

I don't know whether the cop was right to interpret the guy having a gun in his hand as threatening or not. Probably. But when intentional language is used (pull the weapon) that makes the danger of a situation sound more obvious than it actually was then I start to wonder if I should look in this horses mouth or not.

My thinking about this is colored by my tendency to never take anything a cop says at face value. I just don't trust them.

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Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Monica did pass a bar exam, she really is a lawyer

I'd previously wondered whether Monica Goodling was actually a lawyer, whether she'd actually passed a bar exam and could legally practice law. I had some trouble finding that out.

According to the Boston Globe she has passed the bar exam in Virginia.
Seven years ago, 60 percent of the class of 1999 -- Goodling's class -- failed the bar exam on the first attempt. (Goodling's performance was not available, though she is admitted to the bar in Virginia.) The dismal numbers prompted the school to overhaul its curriculum and tighten admissions standards.


Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Jerry Falwell

You can tell which of the Republican candidates are going to pander to the nutcase religious right by looking at their websites and see what they are saying about what a great American Jerry Falwell was.

It takes a lot of guts to ignore that dipshit, and the only two Republican candidates that aren't bothering to comment on his life are Rudy and Ron Paul. The only two with any guts. It's too bad Rudy is such a phony and Ron Paul is so unelectible.

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Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Ron Paul

The really sad thing about Ron Paul is that he's probably both the most honest and the most rational Republican candidate for President but he has almost no chance of getting the nomination.

No chance at all.

Ron Paul on Homeland Security Department
I was opposed to the creation of a new Homeland Security Department from the beginning. Only in Washington would anyone call the creation of an additional layer of bureaucracy on top of already bloated bureaucracies “streamlining.” Only in Washington would anyone believe that a bigger, more centralized federal government means more efficiency.

Well, he's right. But it doesn't count because being against Homeland Security isn't a winning position. It's un-American to be against Homeland Security, certainly un-Republican.
The below is the kind of thinking that makes him un-electable.
The senseless and horrific killings last week on the campus of Virginia Tech University reinforced an uneasy feeling many Americans experienced after September 11th: namely, that government cannot protect us. No matter how many laws we pass, no matter how many police or federal agents we put on the streets, a determined individual or group still can cause great harm. Perhaps the only good that can come from these terrible killings is a reinforced understanding that we as individuals are responsible for our safety and the safety of our families.

He's right that we should learn that.

But that's not what we learned. What we learned is that government needs to provide us more protection. We need more preventive detention, not more freedom. What we learn is that we should lock up more people who havn't done anyone any harm just because we think they might do some harm at some vague point in the future.

Ron Paul is right about a lot of things. But American voters simply don't want to hear it. He has no chance.


Lifestyle and Political Blogs

What does Rule of Law mean?

One Navy lawyer thought the Rule of Law meant that our government is supposed to follow the law and respect the legal rights of the accused.

That quaint notion has already cost him his career (18 years in the Navy) and may well cost him a few years in the brig.

06:03 PM CDT on Thursday, May 17, 2007
By BROOKS EGERTON / The Dallas Morning News

NORFOLK, Va. – Matt Diaz was a Navy lawyer with 18 years of military experience when duty called at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Six months there broke him.

Navy officer Matt Diaz put his career on the line when he disclosed the names of Guantanamo Bay detainees to a civil liberties group. Now, in a case that reflects the fierce dissent within the U.S. government over the war on terrorism, the lieutenant commander faces a court-martial that could send him to prison for at least 14 years. A jury convicted him late Thursday, and the sentencing phase of the case is set to begin Friday.

Cmdr. Diaz is on trial because of actions he took after concluding – as many of higher rank have – that the Bush administration's offshore detention camp for terrorism suspects was making a mockery of American justice.

"My oath as a commissioned officer is to the Constitution of the United States," Cmdr. Diaz told The Dallas Morning News in his first public comments on the case. "I'm not a criminal."

In early 2005, as he was concluding a six-month tour of duty as a Guantanamo legal adviser, Cmdr. Diaz sent an anonymous note to a New York civil liberties group containing the names of the detainees.

He thought he was doing the right thing. He thought he was following the law because he was a lawyer and thought that the US Supreme Court was the supreme law of the land. Turns out he was wrong about that.
The Center for Constitutional Rights had earlier won a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that terrorism suspects had the right to challenge their detention. But the Pentagon was refusing to identify the men, hampering the group's effort to represent them.

"I had observed the stonewalling, the obstacles we continued to place in the way of the attorneys," the 41-year-old officer said. "I knew my time was limited. … I had to do something."

In doing so, the government contends, Cmdr. Diaz committed a variety of crimes, including disobeying regulations and transmitting secret defense information that "could be used to the injury of the United States or to the advantage of a foreign nation." The jury convicted him on four of five counts.

This is just disgusting.

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Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Life in prison for a crime committed when you're 13 years old

Can a typical 13 year old really fully understand the consequences of his actions?

Tyler Edmonds Mississippi Supreme Court just overturned the conviction of Tyler Edmonds for a murder that occured when he was 13. He had confesed by later recanted.

His appeal was based on a claim of an unfair trial. A number of points related to expert testimony were raised.

Basically the trial judge didn't allow the defense to put on experts on false confessions but did allow the the prosecution to put on an expert pathologist who isn't even a pathologist and is clearly an incompetent boob (that part was clear to at least one member of the Mississippi Supreme Court).

The prosecution expert actually was allowed to testify that he could determine that two people held the gun as it was fired by a simple examination of the bullet wound. I don't know where they get juries in Mississippi, but hearing that kind of nonsense as evidence should have been enough for an immediate not guilty verdict.

There were also some severe procedural problems with the way the confession was extracted by police in violation of some specific laws Mississippi has about the interrogation of juviniles.

The whole thing was a mess.

Radley Balko of Reason has some history with the prosecutions claimed pathologists from another case and he has a good write up of this case.

My concern isn't so much with the unfair trial as with the whole idea of treating a crime committed by a 13 year old as a trial committed by an adult.

That's just absurd. I realize that the law in the US does allow it. But that doesn't mean the law makes any sense at all or has any moral authority at all. There is something wrong with us as a country, as a people, when we allow the kind of fiction that says a 13 year old has the mental capacity of an adult simply because we think he might have done something terrible. It's just wrong and we're wrong for tolerating it.

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Lifestyle and Political Blogs

SWAT teams are just unAmerican

Police SWAT teams have taken on a life of their own and have just gotten out of hand.

they've become an integral part of the tendency for police to just run amok, unsupervised and unaccountable.

The 4th amendment doesn't even apply.

Look at this picture.

Police departments just do not need to engage in military style invasions as a regular part of doing business. But that's what police departments large and small do -- violent invasions of homes as the default approach to service of the simplest warrants has become the norm. It's surprised more police aren't killed as a result.

There's almost no oversight. Judges routinely sign off on boilerplate warrants and many SWAT intrusions are done as part of multi-jurisdiction task forces which report to no one.

It's gotten so out of hand that I don't know how we'll get it under control, but it really is destroying what little is left of the fabric of competent police work in this country.


Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Proud to be an American

The Army takes over a public library.

The terroists hate us for our freedom.

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Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Giving them a target in Tunica

Tunica High School is right on the edge of a small, rural town. It had 10 miles of woods and cotton fields between the high school and the casinos. (I've spent some time in Tunica). South of Memphis, it's the heart of the Mississippi Delta country.

Personally, if I drove past the Tunica High School and saw somebody walking around with a shotgun I'd have not thought anything of it. It's not exactly like nobody in rural Mississippi has a shotgun.

But, the Tunica County Sheriff thinks different. They locked down the high school when they heard a report of somebody walking around (outside the school) with a shotgun.

You can't be too careful. If they took away the targets and pissed off a guy with a shotgun he might shoot at a bird or something.

On a related note, a comment on the Tunica SO from a long time Tunica County resident. A few years ago I was playing poker in a Casino in Tunica County and there was an old black woman playing in the seat next to me. We got to talking about Mississippi and she said how things sure had changed since she was young.

She said, "Used to be, iffen you was a black woman and you got in a fight with your old man and the neihbors called the Sheriff, well, they'd send Bubba out and you was in trouble.".

"Nowdays, they'll send out Bubba and LeRoy both and you're in Big Trouble".

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Lifestyle and Political Blogs

The Republican position on torture

Ann Althouse comments on the Rudy/McCain differences in attitude about the use of torture by the US government.

My comment on her post is

There is only one reason to torture -- to appear tough.

Torture does not make anyone safe, it does not help you acquire usable information.

Rudy, like Tenet did recently in his book, seems to think that it's not really torture if you make up some mealy-mouthed term to use instead of the word torture.

He thinks that makes him a tough guy. I think it makes him a coward. If you want to torture people at least be straight up about it -- tell us that's what you want to do and let's talk about what value that kind of behavior is.

In the "ticking bomb" storyline that the Fox moderator took from a "24" plotline to use in his debate question, there's a presumption that using torture actually will provide you with usable information. The presumption is that so long as you are sure the victim of your torture has the information you seek that the torture will get it out of him.

That presumption is nothing but bullshit. People being tortured will never tell you the truth, they will always tell you want you want to hear. The only way you can be sure that they'll tell you the truth is if you already know the truth and they're aware of that. They will play to whatever they perceive your bias to be, whatever it takes to get you to stop.

Torture serves no purpose at all other than the creation of a facade of toughness, or to create terror in the minds of those who might be captured later. It's not an act of intelligence gathering, it's an act of terrorism.

Are the Republican candidates fighting a war against terror? Or is it a war of terror?

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Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Inappropriate touching

>An Ohio Sheriff's deputy pleads out for no jail time on a charge of sexual misconduct with a jail inmate.
A former Greene County Sheriff's Office lieutenant was ordered Wednesday to serve 100 hours of community service and pay a $500 fine for kissing and touching a female inmate's breast in the county jail.

During a hearing in Greene County Common Pleas Court, appointed Judge David A. Gowdown declined to sentence Francis A. "Tip" Link Jr., 44, of Jamestown to any jail time for sexual imposition and dereliction of duty, the misdemeanors agreed upon by Link, his lawyer and appointed Prosecutor Andrew Sievers.

However Gowdown warned Link he would wind up behind bars of the jail he supervised if he violated a set of rules governing his three years on probation.

Link, who also assisted the drug task force and provided training in special tactics and anti-terrorism to Greene County authorities, was indicted on sexual battery, a third-degree felony, like former Montgomery and Warren County Sheriff's Office employees charged in two other cases involving jail officials engaging in sexual conduct with inmates last year.

Link, who also trained officers in self-defense and weapons use at Sinclair and Clark community colleges and for the state training program, resigned in January after more than 12 years with the sheriff's office

Although the sexual touching sound kind of minor, the abuse of authority invovled in that kind of behavior on the part of a jail supervisor is very serious. The part I find really interesting isn't the minor sentence, that's probably pretty common for the first time offense of this kind of crime, but his resignation in January. He resigned. He wasn't fired.

I think that's probably significant. There's probably some pension money involved and I think allowing him to resign is a huge problem. Even if he doesn't do jail time, a cop that abuses authority in this way should never be allowed to draw any pension money. Not ever.

We give cops a lot of power and a lot of authority. When they abuse that power and authority we should have no mercy on them at all. None.

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Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Get out of jail for a fee card

In California it seems to be the norm to just buy your way out of jail. I guess Paris Hilton was drinking in the wrong county.

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Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Regents univeristy and the bar exam

I still don't know whether Monica Goodling ever actually passed a bar exam.

I wrote DOJ and asked them, I don't really expect a response.

Here's Regent's overall student performance on bar exams.

Bar Exam Statistics*** 2005 2004 2002 2001 AVG*
State in which most graduates took bar exam: VA VA VA VA
School's bar passage rate: 61% 52.5% 48.4% 43.9% 51.5%
State overall bar passage rate: 74% 72% 73% 73% 73%
School bar pass rate v. state bar pass rate:-13%-19.5%-24.6%-29.1%-21.5%

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Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Rudy and the Fox debate

Ann Althouse listened in on a conference call with Rudy and some A-list bloggers. (I, of course, was not invited). Ann must be on the A- list, because she didn't get a chance to ask a question.

She thinks the guy did a good job. I think Rudy is an idiot. I think he'll make a terrible president and his answers about the middle east show that clearly. He touts that as his strength and he just clearly doesn't know what he's talking about.

She said of his comments

Jim Garrity (sp?) of National Review asks whether Ron Paul should be included in the Republican debates. Giuliani says that what Paul said about 9/11 last night is something he'd have been surprised to hear anyone say even in the Democratic debate. Giuliani seemed to know that some people are talking about whether he characterized Paul's comment fairly last night when he lit into him, because he said he listened to it again and that there was "tremendous confusion in what [Paul] was saying." Paul said that because of our attacks on Saddam, al Qaeda wanted to kill us. That didn't make sense. Giuliani emphasized that he has been studying Islam and Islamic terrorism since the 1970s when he was in the Ford administration, and he knows that the reason they hate us is because of our freedom, notably our freedom of religion and the freedom for women.

They hate us because of our freedom? I didn't beleive that when the idiot Cheney said it, and I don't believe it now. Ron Paul actually got it right in the debate, the attacked us becuase we meddle in middle eastern politics. Our bombing of Saddam throughout the 90's was just part of that, they didn't attack us becuase they wanted to avenge Saddam (as Rudy seems to want to imply Paul said). They want us to leave them alone. That's pretty much it.

With our meddling we make ourselves an attractive target to them. That's not to justify their attack on us 9/11, but it's why it happens. They don't give a shit one way or another about our freedom. They just find our freedom an easy target to attack.

Rudy got it wrong in the democratic debate when he tried to explain Shai/Sunni conflict in terms of a split in religious dogma 600 years ago. Today's conflict is a tribal conflict between those two groups, not a religious one. It may have begun as a religious conflict 600 years ago, but it's become a very simple us v. them conflict today, having nothing much to do with religion anymore. Rudy seems to fail to understant that in any way.

This guy just does not have the intellectual capacity to do the job. I can't imagine that Ann doesn't see that clearly. Maybe I just have too many filters on my own vision.


David Nicoson said on

I'm not sure if this is pessimism or optimism, but I think it's
entirely possible that Giuliani understands the report and made this
statement anyway, knowing it's the sort of thing that makes people

The problem with that kind of cynical explanation is that it doesn't expalin what he said in the 1st debate about Sunni/Shia conflict. He attributed their conflict to specific dogma related to details about prophets from over a century ago. That may have been true over 1,000 years ago but it has nothing to do with the conflicts today.

Today's conflicts are tribal -- in group/out group conflict, us. v them. Saddam was a Sunni, but he wasn't religious. The ruling Sunni dominated the Shia because of tribal relationships, theres almost nothing about the civil conflicts in Iraq that is related to religious dogma.

Many of the leaders come from religious institutions, but that's just becuase all the other institutions have been destroyed. Rudy's use of belief in specific religious dogma to explain the civil war in Iraq demonstrates a fundemental misunderstanding of the political dynamics in the middle east and a fundemental misunderstanding of terrorism.

His only claim to presidential competence is expertise about terrorism and how to fight it. His competence in that area is clearly an illusion, he's not even competent at the only thing he claims a competence in. He has no chance of ever becoming a good President. He might be able to get elected. He'll never govern competently though.

We don't need another 4 years of government incompetence.

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Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Maybe detectives could explain?

At a high school outside Houston
HOUSTON -- A northeast Harris County high school was placed on lockdown after a threat was phoned in, KPRC Local 2 reported Tuesday.

Sheldon Independent School District officials said the call turned out to be a prank.

No one was allowed in or out of C.E. King High School during the lockdown.

Harris County Precinct 3 deputy constables were at the school to provide extra security.

Investigators searched the school and did not find anything.

Detectives are working to determine who made the call and why.
Maybe detectives could determine what the intended purpose of a school lockdown is? Who is it supposed to protect? How does it protect them?

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Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Not just a lockdown, but a felony arrest of a 12 year old

This kid in Gainsville, Florida showed a gun to two kids he thought were his friend. They weren't his friend. His life is now destroyed. He'll not make that mistake again.
Hawthorne Middle/High School was placed on lockdown for just under an hour Monday morning after a former student brought a handgun on campus, according to Sgt. Keith Faulk with the Alachua County Sheriff's Office.

Faulk said a 12-year-old boy rode his bicycle to the Hawthorne Middle/High School campus Monday morning with a .38-caliber revolver in his backpack.

The boy had previously attended the Hawthorne school, but was transferred to the Horizon Center due to disciplinary issues, Faulk said.

Faulk said the boy showed the revolver to two students. The two students then told administrators what they had seen, which prompted the lockdown.

Principal Susan Arnold said the incident started between 11:15 and 11:30 a.m., and the school was on lockdown until about 12:15 p.m.

"We had to make sure the gun was not on campus and then the deputies helped us look where the two students thought he'd put it," Arnold said, noting the two students who saw the gun thought the boy had hidden it in some bushes.

Faulk said deputies quickly determined that neither the boy nor the weapon were still on campus, and the lockdown was lifted.

Deputies then located the boy's residence, where his grandfather told deputies he did own a few weapons. Deputies were able to positively identify one of the grandfather's weapons as the revolver brought to the campus, and the boy was arrested.

Deputies filed charges including armed trespassing on a school grounds, which is a felony, and carrying a concealed weapon against the 12-year-old, Faulk said.
He didn't harm anyone, he didn't threaten anyone, he posed no threat to anyone. Twelve. Felony charges.

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Lifestyle and Political Blogs

For the convience of the police

School officials in Huntington, WVa also seem to think the primary purpose of a school lockdown is to make life convenient for the police.
HUNTINGTON -- West Middle School was placed under lockdown Monday afternoon following a stabbing near campus.

Officials said the lockdown is just a precaution while police search for the suspect. Police said someone was stabbed on Jefferson Avenue before noon.

No indication at all that someone was inside the school with a weapon or that students were in danger in any way. Just that the police didn't want a bunch of people watching them while they searched the area around the street.

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Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Protect them from possible exposure to drugs

A school in New Hampshire had to lockdown the school, and disrupt an advanced placement exam, because somebody in the school might have had possesion of drugs.

Just think of the bloody damage that could have resulted from a loose reefer in the exam room.

These people aren't just idiots. They're insane.

If the cops want to serve a search warrent the school can't stop them. But the search does not require a lockdown. It might make it easier for the cops, but that's not the concern of the school.

Take care of the students, in particular take care of the ones who are actually interested enough in an education to take an advanced placement exam. I doubt very many of those cops even know what an advanced placement exam is.

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Lifestyle and Political Blogs

A lockdown that locks them out

A school in Colorado got the idea of a lockdown right, although I'm not sure it wasn't more by accident than anything else. They had a lockdown at, and kept students away from the school until they determined it was safe.

I'm not sure the whole thing wasn't pointless, but at least it was aimed in the right direction, towards actually protecting students rather than just creating an appearance of doing something.

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Lifestyle and Political Blogs

They don't fool around in California

They lock down the schools because of a squirrel. You can never be too safe.

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Lifestyle and Political Blogs

A chair fell over. Lock it down. Call in a SWAT team.

Kent Washington is populated by idiots. Not just idiots running the schools. Some kind of idiot juice has been added to the water in Kent Washington, clearly by foreign terrorists.
A high school was put into lockdown Friday afternoon after a report of shots fired.

The King County Sheriff's Department says a school employee called them around 2 p.m. The employee was told that someone heard a "pop, pop, pop" sound coming from one of the rooms that they assumed was gunfire.

Deputies say it appears one of the teachers was having a chair stacking contest. A stack fell over, resulting in the sound which was mistaken for gunfire.

Deputies took no chances with the initial report. Video from the scene showed at least 15 police cars, along with a pair of vans, parked outside the building. Officers could be seen walking around.

The best part is the last sentence. It's the part that demonstrates that not just the school and police officials are idiots, but the TV reporters are also idiots.
Several kids could also be seen gathering outside the school.

Uh. Was the school in a lockdown? Or was the school evacuated? Or did they just go on a lunch break?

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Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Sometimes lockdowns might be worthwhile

It appears that most of the time school lockdowns are designed to only pacify the public by creating a pretense of protection when the reality is that the lockdown actually puts children at risk (Columbine is the best example of that risk being realized). But there are times when you could make a rational argument in favor of a school lockdown.
Four people are in custody after a police chase that ended at the playground of Delaware Elementary School this morning, said Grant Story, spokesman for the Springfield Police Department.

The incident prompted a short lockdown at the school located at 1505 S. Delaware Avenue.

Story said the incident, which happened sometime before noon, started when a man saw his stolen vehicle being driven and followed the vehicle to the area near Delaware Elementary School.

At least one of the four people in the stolen vehicle fled on foot when police officers arrived, according to Story. Police used a taser gun to subdue one person, and one tried to hide himself in the playground at the school, Story said.

In this Missouri example you can make an argument in favor of the lockdown, and the argument is at least rational. It seems unlikely that a lockdown in this case would cause harm, but I'm still not convinced it actually ads any layers of protection.

Maybe. I'll give them the benefit of the doubt. So far there's no evidence that the Springfield Missouri schools are run by complete idiots. Even the cops appear to be well behaved.

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Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Why did Gonzales fire them?

Terry Frank quotes a comment by the non-candidate, Fred Thompson (the other Thompson) on why he thinks the assistant attorney generals were fired --
There was nothing wrong with firing eight U.S. attorneys. Of course the Department of Justice was inept in the way they did it, trying to conceal things that didn’t need to be concealed but the U.S. attorneys, like innumerable other public officials serve at the pleasure of the president. He fired eight of his own appointees apparently because they we not aggressive enough in pursuing voting fraud cases.

That could be the reason they were fired. That was the original best guess by a lot of people.

But the problem is that we don't know why they were fired, and whatever that reason is, we were lied to about what it was. We were told they were fired for poor performance. That turns out to have been a lie -- Gonzales now says that's not the reason they were fired. But he also seems to be saying he doesn't know why they were fired.

This just isn't making sense. It's actually starting to look like they were fired because they didn't accept the Regent Law School dogma that George was sent to us by God to protect us from the infidels and the queers. There's as much evidence for that explanation as for any other.

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Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Two year wait for a misdemeanor

Bill O'Reilly would be yelling for a boycott of Ohio if this was an ordinary child sex predator instead of a sheriff's deputy.

Two years ago he had sex with a 16 year old girl who was a witness in a case he was investigating. At least the Sheriff's Office had sense enough to fire him, but the state AG can't seem to make felony charges stick (the AG's office is prosecuting because the guy's wife works for the local prosecutor).
BELLEFONTAINE — Sexual battery charges against a former sheriff's detective accused of sexual activity with a 16-year-old girl have been dismissed for a second time.

Visiting Judge David Faulkner dismissed the two felony counts and a misdemeanor charge of child endangerment against Jon Stout, 38, Thursday in Logan County Common Pleas Court.

Prosecutors accuse Stout of having contact with the girl in September 2005. He was indicted in 2006 on two counts of sexual battery and four misdemeanors — public indecency, interference with custody, contributing to the unruliness of a child and child endangering.

Judge Mark O'Connor of Logan County Common Pleas Court dismissed the battery and child endangering charges last year, and his decision was upheld in part by a state appeals court.

Prosecutors re-indicted the former Logan County detective but were unsuccessful in arguing that the charges were appropriate because Stout was acting in the role of a parent when the alleged acts occurred. Trial on the three remaining misdemeanor charges was set for June 13.


Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Oklahoma Sheriff in Iraq

The sense of entitlement that so often goes with having a badge is just stunning.

A sheriff in rural Oklahoma just walks away, takes a job in Iraq
, and figures he'll keep drawing a sheriff's salary for a couple of months, then maybe resign.

After all, he is the Sheriff. They owe him something, don't they?
Hartshorne quietly left the sheriff's office in early April to take a job with DynCorp International as a private contractor to train Iraqi police. He apparently was out of Oklahoma to train for the DynCorp job even while he was drawing an Adair County paycheck last month, authorities said.

"I think he left everybody in the dark," County Commissioner Sam Chandler said.

Maybe. Chandler and other county officials have been asking Adair County sheriff's deputies and Undersheriff Tim McCollum for weeks about Hartshorne's whereabouts. They claim that they never received a clear answer.

Just amazing.

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Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Idiots. Complete idiots.

Thanks to Instapundit for this one.

A school in Austin, Texas has suspended a boy for having an excessively short hair cut.

That's right. Short hair. Too short, not properly stylish. Suspended. Sent home.

Idiots run our schools. Idiots.

I went to school in Austin, Texas. Here's a couple of pictures of my haircuts when I went to Brentwood Elementary in Austin.


Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Code red lockdown?

It's getting hard enough to figure out what a lockdown is. Now we have different kinds of lockdowns -- in Madison, WI they have Code Red Lockdowns.
MADISON, Wis. -- La Follette High School officials said the school's lockdown policy could get some changes after a lockdown on Friday, which was triggered by a false report.

Code Red lockdowns were called Friday morning at Sennett Middle School and La Follette High School after a report that a man with a gun was headed toward a school, WISC-TV reported. The report to 911 turned out to be false.

La Follette Principal Loren Rathart said that the lockdown itself went great, saying that all doors were locked and students were under cover within three minutes of the 911 call.

But school officials said that despite notification of all parents by phone and Internet, a huge security concern surfaced.

Rathart said that more than 100 concerned parents came to the school after their children called them on their cell phones.

Staff said they met the parents at the front door and sent them to offices, where things got chaotic.

"We try to discourage that as much as possible because, until we're able to release students and get this place secure, we don't know whether there is a threat. And so having parents come to school may mean that they're going in harm's way," Rathart said.

Earlier I'd reported on this happening at a middle school. After reading the current report it seems it happened at two schools, it's not clear at all what happened.

But, what is clear is that the school officials intendially lockdown students in a way that keeps them in harms way. They say that in their public statements. They think that's a good thing?

These people are just idiots. There's no nice way to say this. Idiots.

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Cops -- the new rumor mill

Call the cops whenever you hear a rumor at a junior high school?

Boy, that sounds like a plan that just can't fail.
The meeting was prompted by a rumor Thursday that a student brought a gun to Kahler Middle School. An investigation determined the claim was unfounded.

From now on, police will be notified immediately of rumors of violence. Once police establish there is no imminent threat, they will back out and let school officials handle the situation, Quinn said.

"Our Police Department is trained," Dyer Councilwoman Nan Onest said. "They need to be the first people we call

Police are trained to evaluate rumors among 13 year old kids?

Is there some new FBI school (in Hawaii?) they attend to get this training? Do they have special internet training in using

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An insane lockdown

When I was in the Navy you could often skate through the day by walking around with a clipboard or a toolbox -- by carrying some device that indicated you were on your way to accomplish some specific task. You never had to actually do anything -- just appear to be doing something.

Later, when I grew up and became a corporate dweeb, my job was Project Manager. That meant I wrote a lot of status reports. In the corporate world a status report serves the same purpose as the clipboard did in the Navy -- it's evidence of activity, not actual activity.

Telling people you're doing something isn't quite the same thing as actually doing something. Project managers often draw a pretty good salary to spend their time telling people that someone else is doing something. Great job.

Sometimes that's what a school lockdown is. It's an appearance of doing something that just works out better than actually doing something would.

Who runs the schools in Greenville, MI?
GREENVILLE - Greenville school officials put their middle school on lockdown Tuesday morning after a threatening note was found in a locker.

In a statement, Superintendent Dr. Terance Lunger said a middle school student found a threatening note in a locker, indicating a bomb was inside. The school was locked down, "with normal activities continuing as much as possible."

Greenville Public Safety asked the Michigan State Police K-9 unit to help with the locker search.

Lockdown? They think there's a bomb in the building and they lock everyone inside the building?

Or maybe they don't actually think that there's a bomb in the building, they just want to pretend they do, you know, just in case of the off chance that there really is one. So they do something that they think provides some kind of external evidence of proper activity.

Of course the only thing it's actually evidence of is complete insanity on the part of the school, and the police that cooperated with the nutcases who runs these schools.

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I used to know what lockdown meant. I'm not so sure anymore.

I had an adjunct job one summer, teaching economics for a Texas junior college. The particular campus my course was taught at was the Ellis II unit of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (corrections department). It was a maximum security prison unit outside Huntsville, Texas.

When we had a lockdown it meant nobody moved, nobody came in, nobody went out. Lockdowns were instituted when a count was off. Prisons take frequent body counts of inmates throughout the day -- when they did a count that didn't match what it was supposed to it could mean that they miscounted, it could mean an inmate was someplace he wasn't supposed to be.

So they'd lock it down and do another count, and just keep counting until they got the count right. We never had a lockdown during class, but I did arrive for class during a lockdown once, which meant I waited in the parking lot for an hour.

The purpose of that lockdown was to put all the inmates in known locations to hasten the recount. Counts are important to ensure inmates stay where they're supposed to say, it's part of the security. But it's the security of the corrections officials that's paramount, not the security of inmates. Prisons don't have lockdowns to protect the inmates, they have lockdowns to protect the CO's and control the inmates.

So, what I'm confused about is Why do schools have lockdowns? What's the purpose? Who's security are we concerned about and what are we keeping them secure from?

The school lockdown that made everyone aware of the practice of lockdowns outside of a prison setting was the one at Columbine High School. What was very clear in that case was that the security being ensured by the lockdown was the security of the responding police officers, not the security of the students.

The students where in the process of being killed while police secured the perimeter of the school, to enforce a lockdown. So, exactly how are parents supposed to respond when they learn their child is in a school under lockdown?

According to school officials in Winslow, New Jersey they are supposed to respond with quiet compliance, the same way the children being locked down are supposed to respond.

Meanwhile, some parents criticized the behavior of other parents during the four-hour lockdown of the high school as police investigated a report of an unidentified gunman in the school on Thursday.

According to a letter Swirsky sent to district parents, a student reported seeing an unidentified male student in a stairwell lift his T-shirt to reveal a gun after making a threatening statement. Neither the alleged gunman nor a weapon was found.

During the lockdown, about 200 parents appeared at the high school in a scene that verged on chaos.

Some parents accused officials of lying to them by telling them that the incident was simply a drill.

Swirsky has said employees had been directed to advise parents that an investigation was under way at the school.

On Monday, the criticism was directed at the parents who showed up at the high school during the ordeal.

Dawn Pearson, the mother of two students and a district teacher, said if the parents had flocked to the high school during a true emergency, they could have undermined any rescue effort.

Lockdowns do not facilitate a rescue effort. They make it easier for police to search for the bad guy and protect students from being accidently killed by police who can't tell the bad guys from the good guys. They do not help in any rescue effort, and lockdowns do not protect the students from the existing threat. Lockdowns only protect students from new threats introduced by nutcase cops running around with guns.

We should stop the practice of instituting a school lockdown whenever a school is faced with some threat. School evacuations, maybe. School lockdowns, never.

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Monday, May 14, 2007

Monica the lawyer

I know that Monica Goodling has a law degree, but don't you have to pass a bar exam to actually be a lawyer?

Has she?

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Don't solve it, criminalize it

This is the true American Way.

If government is faced with a problem and doesn't really know how to solve it, then just criminalize it. That way you replace a tough problem with an easy one -- everybody knows how to build more jails.

Homeless? Just put them in jail. Problem solved.

Some problems are inherently hard to solve, maybe even impossible to solve. Building more jails might look a solution, but it doesn't really solve anything.

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Air freshener

During a traffic stop in New Mexico a cop detected the odor of air freshener coming from within the car.

This is what he said about it.
there was an extreme odor of air freshener which is, in my past experience, a masking agent (for drugs)

Contrary to what courts seem to think, this is not a rational basis for taking any action at all, or drawing any conclusions or even suspicions.

While I have no doubt that he's correct that people with drugs in the car often use air freshener, that's just not relevant to rational thought in this case. The right questions isn't about how people with drugs behave, it's about how people behave.

No, "do most druggies use air freshener", but "do most people with air freshener possess drugs". Cops, and courts, seem to want to behave as if those two questions are the same, when they just aren't. That kind of behavior is why some of us conclude cops (and most lawyers) are just stupid. Or maybe they aren't stupid, maybe they're just evil.

Thanks to Oklahoma Criminal Defense Weekly newsletter for a pointer to this opinion.

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This is not a drill

We used to have combat drills when I was in the Navy. Shooting drills, abandon ship drills, collision drills, fire drills, etc. (we never had a repel boarders drill, although it turned out later we should have). Never, during a drill, where we told it was not a drill.

When we went to General Quarters (combat) for real we were told "This is not a drill". That phrase was part of the official broadcast announcement on the ship for when we went to emergency stations. "This is not a drill".

They didn't fool around with that phrase because you knew that when you heard that phrase you were supposed to kill somebody. That phrase struck fear in the hearts of brave men, because it actually meant something and we knew what it meant.

It seems that officials at a school in Tennessee have decided that it's not important to make sure that words retain a real meaning
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. -- Staff members of an elementary school staged a fictitious gun attack on students during a class trip, telling them it was not a drill as the children cried and hid under tables.

The mock attack Thursday night was intended as a learning experience and lasted five minutes during the weeklong trip to a state park, said Scales Elementary School Assistant Principal Don Bartch, who led the trip.

When you teach kids that it doesn't mean anything when you tell them "it's not a drill" then what do you do when it really isn't a drill? Are you going to have a way to communicate that? Do these teachers think it might be important to be able to communicate that?

I can't believe they had a drill and told people it was not a drill. I'm just stunned by the danger inherent in such a thing.
During the last night of the trip, staff members convinced the 69 students that there was a gunman on the loose. They were told to lie on the floor or hide underneath tables and stay quiet. A teacher, disguised in a hooded sweat shirt, even pulled on a locked door.
After the lights went out, about 20 kids started to cry, 11-year-old Shay Naylor said.
"I was like, 'Oh My God,' "she said. "At first I thought I was going to die. We flipped out."
Principal Catherine Stephens declined to say whether the staff members involved would face disciplinary action, but said the situation "involved poor judgment."

There's an emphasis on how frightened the drill made the children, and the cruelty of doing that. But the stupidity of the teachers runs much deeper than that. The most important thing in an emergency is that people actually know it's an emergency.

They blew the tornado sirens the other night here in Cushing, Oklahoma. I got out of bed, got dressed, got a flashlight, turned on the TV, prepared to go to my backyard storm shelter if the situation warranted it. That's because I knew that when they blow that siren it's not a drill. It's not time to fool around. Those kids need to know that when their teachers tell them it's an emergency that it's not time to fool around. They no longer have any way to know that.

That kind of behavior by the school staff actually puts the children at future risk.

Instapundit pointed to my post. I'm impressed.

I made a comment on a post by Ann Alhouse.

After being assured it's not a drill, the rational response by the students would be to find a weapon and kill whoever was pushing against the door.

As pointed out above, the irrational teachers never thought of that possible response, they just assumed hiding under the furniture is the response that would be taken by everyone.

I commented on this earlier this morning. The real problem is that drills like this one tend to make students less safe, not more safe.

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Sunday, May 13, 2007

Tenth Street Park

Gary and Cathy at 10th Street Park, Austin, Texas, 1955


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Afternoon on Elm Street

My mother and her mother-in-law

The backyard on Elm Street, Austin, Texas



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Mother and daughter

Mother and Daughter in Corpus Christi, Texas

Lilo and Cathy


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My mother and my son

Lilo and Robert

Baton Rouge


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Teenager at war

My mother in wartime Germany



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Looks like Easter

Mother and her two kids (and some other unidentified kid).


It was Easter. The unidentified kid is our cousin, Mona Matush. The house is her mother's house, my dad's sister, in Temple, Texas.


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Pregnant with children

Ryan Drive in Austin, Texas


Lilo Carson with her kids, Gary and Cathy (and Scott).


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Prairie on the edge of Austin

Prairie on the north edge of Austin, Texas, 1955.

On Ryan Drive, about a block north of Justin Lane.
Lilo Carson checking the mail in her new house


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Where is this little boy's mother?

Gary on Elm Street


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Life sure was tough in post-war Germany

My mother turned 80 last Monday.

Lilo, 1947

This is what my mother says about the picture.
I remember
when my sister took that picture of me--I thought I
was really cute perching on the railing of the second
story balcony--I wore an old blouse and had made the
shorts from an old white cotton sweater--life was
TOUGH in those postwar years--but we made the best of
things--and survived--after all, I was 20 and in love
with a soldier from far away Texas


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Thursday, May 10, 2007

Is Rudy his own man?

In response to the Pope saying that politicians that support women's rights to abortions can't take communion, Rudy said such things are between he and his confessor.

Talking head commentators are interpreting that to mean that Rudy is saying that he's his own man and he doesn't answer to the Pope.

But that's not what he's saying at all. He's Catholic, and when he says it's between him and his confessor that doesn't mean the same thing as when a Methodist says it. Rudy is specifically saying he does answer to the Catholic Church, just to the Preist he confesses to rather than the Pope himself.

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Monday, May 07, 2007

FEMA Head comes to the rescue

The head of FEMA arrives in Missouri to direct the federal assistance to the tornado damage in Kansas.

(I made that up, it's the thought that popped in my head when I saw the Governor of Kansas and the Head of FEMA on TV mention the Kansas City FEMA office).


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Self absorbtion and politics

How self-absorbed can one governor be?

Corzine of NJ is being interviewed on TV and he says his car was going with the flow of traffic. He was going over 90 mph.

Since his driver wasn't having to zig and zag to drive down the hiway at 90 he just naturally concludes that was the normal speed for the flow of traffic?

How does somebody that stupid tie his own shoes?

He had lights and sirens on. It was everybody else on the road that was zigging and zagging to get out of his way.

What a nutcase.

Put that dumb sonofabitch together with Dick Cheney and impeach them both.

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Beauty, money, brains, and fairness.

Jane Galt says
wealth is often earned
beauty can be acquired with wealth
beauty is never earned.


What claptrap. The whole idea of "fairness" in nature is absurd.

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Sunday, May 06, 2007

A roundup of misbehaving cops

Sometimes police departments almost get it right when cops misbehave.

Back in March an Austin cop was fired when it was discovered that he'd lied about the circumstances of a drug arrest -- lies that help send someone to prison on the charges.

Firing the guy seems pretty automatic to me, he committed a very serious crime, falsely sending somebody to prison is a very big deal.

The part of the story that bothers me is that the Cheif seems more upset about him having gotten caught and "discrediting the department" then the damage done to the victim of his false statements.
Acting Police Chief Cathy Ellison fired an officer Tuesday after she said the officer lied about the circumstances of an arrest that led to a man's conviction on felony drug charges.

Ellison also said in an eight-page memo that officer James Learmonth mishandled evidence during the June arrest of Ernest Smith and that his actions discredited the department.

A judge in December threw out the case against Smith, and prosecutors dropped charges against a woman who was with Smith when he was arrested.

Austin attorney Tom Stribling, who is representing Learmonth, declined to comment Tuesday, other than to say that his client is considering appealing Ellison's decision.

Travis County Assistant District Attorney Patty Robertson said Learmonth remains under a criminal investigation.

According to the disciplinary memo, Learmonth stopped a car Smith was driving and arrested and charged him with possession of drug paraphernalia and drug possession. He also arrested and charged Smith's female passenger with tampering with evidence.

Smith filed a complaint against Learmonth 13 days later accusing the officer of making an unauthorized stop, filing a false report and failing to return his cell phone, the memo said.

Internal affairs looked into the case, and Learmonth admitted during an interview with investigators that he had lied in his police report, according to the memo. Internal affairs investigators told prosecutors what they had learned.

The memo said that Learmonth wrote in documents that he had seen that Smith had a crack pipe, but later "admitted to internal affairs that the statement about observing the crack pipe wasn't true."

He also falsely wrote in reports that the woman "ground her foot" in a circular motion on what he thought was crack cocaine in an effort to destroy the evidence, the memo said. Learmonth's patrol car video shows she never did so.

"Officer Learmonth falsified his report and probable cause affidavits to bolster the charges," the memo said. "He intentionally and knowingly placed false information in these documents, knowing it was unlawful to do so."

According to the memo, Learmonth failed to seize the gum Smith's companion was chewing, which would have verified if she was chewing crack cocaine, and he was seen on a videotape of the arrest handling Smith's cell phone. After the arrest, it was lost.

The memo said that Learmonth's actions were reported by local media, which discredited the department and that his actions "are unethical and taint the entire justice system."

Learmonth's credibility, the document said, also would likely be affected at the upcoming trial of a man who police said shot at them. Learmonth was involved in the incident.

Smith's lawyer, Keith Lauerman, said Tuesday that he did not know the specifics of Ellison's findings and could not comment. He had said in December that prosecutors had alerted him that they were seeking to dismiss the case against Smith because of "something tainted" his conviction.

a hat tip to Austin Texas DWI Lawyer Blog for pointing me to the story


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