Comey – You Blew It!

We just bombed some targets in Syria. A day earlier we were supposed to be looking for data that would show some responsibility for a chemical attack. Oh well. The strike was middle of the night and Russia was possibly told not to have any of their people around. It’s possible we only took out some Syrians, but who’s counting?

Almost every time the country looks like it may start to work on something positive, some national disaster diverts our attention. The problem is these diversions are intentionally calculated to distract the positive tasks, whatever those might be.

This past weekend saw the interviews with James Comey, the former FBI director fired by President Trump, take the top spot over bombing Syria. Excerpts from his new book have caused a social media tweet storm.

Backing up to October of 2016, eleven days before the election, Comey announced that he found Hilary’s 30,000 missing emails and was going to start looking at them. As a former cop, my thoughts were that Comey was being played by the Trump campaign. He did not have to come out with that public statement because just making the announcement would seriously compromise the election, and there didn’t seem to be time to finalize results. A director has no business announcing that new evidence had been found because the investigation was already in progress. New evidence does not prove anything until it is determined to be of value. The announcement was politically motivated. Period. I felt shame that the FBI was allowing itself to be manipulated. And then to come out and announce that the emails contained nothing of value just days before the election, did not matter in the slightest. The damage had been done and the facts of no wrongdoing did not matter.

After the election, I thought for sure Comey’s loyalty would have earned him a significant political appointment. Instead, he got fired. No wonder he wrote such a scathing book.

Now that his power is apparent, I believe it has corrupted him. He seems only to desire huge book sales, and thinks he is the moral master of society. Comey, you are only in this for yourself and I do not trust you. No self-respecting cop would have let himself be used by a despicable person like Donald Trump.

What do we have to do to get Congress back to the table and talk about serious gun control? Wasn’t that interrupted by the firing of Tilertson or was that another diversion? They are too numerous to keep track of because the news media is being constantly chummed.

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Atrocities

This past few days has seen the threat of military action in Syria because of a publicized chemical attack by the Assad regime on the rebel groups in the country. The US government under President Trump is claiming an obligation to strikeout at the Assad regime because of this particular atrocity even though this has happened before.

Today, the US military is asking for an investigation before striking back, and this is a good thing. But we must figure out why it is the US needs to initiate the strike. Is the atrocity of a chemical gas attack reason enough to enter farther into this civil war? What is the reasoning for this logic? Our Civil War had so many documented atrocities that we should have no right to judge another country. The argument for intervention is that our war was long ago, and rules have changed. And of course, the US has not committed atrocities on its own people for at least a few weeks.

If blame was to be placed, it would have to be on every past and current president. And how can the US justify getting involved in any civil war? Some would say the atrocities committed are the justification. Recall the civil war in Sudan when the US refused to attach the word Genocide to the battles. Arguments took place over the definition of genocide, but the prevailing thought was not to justify military action.

Syria was the last front of the Arab Spring revolts that had taken down so many governments. One of the governments that fell was Libya under Khadafy. When he started fighting the rebels, President Obama raced in without backup to start the bombing and then pressured Italy to join. The US under Obama was reluctant to join anything in Syria until the groups Al Qaeda and Isis got involved. Did that mean we were supporting Assad, because that is what they wanted? Obviously, this is a lot more complicated than that. Maybe not.

The point is that atrocities and violations of rules-of-war are everywhere. We can seek and find if that is what we want. It seems historical that every conflict or war that we enter ends badly for the USA. Even democracies that have been introduced and directed, Egypt and Gaza are prime examples, have produced bad democracies that are authoritarian and repressive. We do not need to interfere in the civil wars of any country. Let us strive to make our country a healthy example to the world.

Rebooting Cops

The nation appears to be in a state of siege as cops seem to be shooting too many people they try to apprehend. Unfortunately, many of the people shot during these arrests have been people of color and most have been of a lower socio-economic class. These incidents give the appearance of an ongoing struggle for control and power by the police.

Without delving into each case, we must generalize that police officers are using the power of deadly force to make arrests for crimes that do not warrant deadly force. Therefore, we must allow that officers are making a judgement that someone’s life is endangered, and that life is usually the officer’s own. It is a matter of perception that a body-camera cannot capture.

The public outcry is reaching out to the government to solve the problem. This is a problem that government cannot legislate or mandate. The solution to the problem is much closer to each incident than it appears. It can be as simple as a department policy.

How can it be that simple? Consider the way policies are made: They all start with the ideals of the police chief. The chief is most often hired by the local government, some elected, but all are selected to uphold justice and keep the peace of a limited territory while seeing to the concerns of the specific community. Examples might be illegal migrants in southern Arizona or opioid influx from Canada in New Hampshire. Police leaders in those communities design their training and apprehension tactics and policies to suit their needs. And then the laws of the land come into play. There are specific rules that must be followed. Officer training is so important, and policies have to be designed to protect officers as they serve the public.

Here is where the leadership comes to influence. Officers need to understand that every situation can escalate to illogical and deadly in a flash. The primary goal in every contact should be that human life must not be lost. Immediate apprehension is only necessary when it is to save a life. When the officer draws a weapon, they must realize that taking a life is imminent. If there is time, all options, including physical encounter, must be attempted even at the risk of injury. An escaped suspect is almost assured of a timely recapture.

Departments have made great strides across the nation. An example is a simple policy regarding auto thefts, noting that most are done by juveniles, saying that a person running from a stolen car may not be shot. An offending officer may be disciplined, by the department, even though State law says an officer can shoot at a fleeing felon. Officers don’t want to shoot fleeing kids, but in the heat of a chase it may happen.

Community involvement is the key to controlling police actions. Getting the federal government involved will not solve anything. If a community is controlled by individuals who wish to bend the law to their own way, their power and control must be taken away. Community good is the basis for a proper police presence. Police officers work for the community, to protect and serve, and are not responsible for dispensing justice. Dispensing justice seems to be a forgotten parameter. Let us strive to return it

Whiskey Review

I’ve never been asked to write a whiskey review but will do so anyway. My claim to know about the science of whiskey is that I have visited a few distilleries in Scotland, and that should be enough of a resume to impress a lot of people. Plus, my good friend Mary, who grew up in Glasgow, taught me how to appreciate the nuances of single-malt scotch. Her accent was quite lovely, and her mannerisms led me to search out the meanings of the words she uttered.

Anyway, let’s get right to it. First on my list, and it’s only first because of nothing-in-particular, is a single-malt whiskey made on the Isle of Skye named Talisker. After the tour they gave us a sip and told us to sense the aroma of the peat-bog. It definitely tasted like it had been filtered by a turf cake, you know, one of those slabs of peat that are cut out of the bog and left to air dry before being burnt in the fireplace. I heard that in the cowboy days of America, the pioneers used to burn dried buffalo dung in the fires. It doesn’t matter how you burn it, there will still be the odor of the original piece, dung or peat. Somehow the distilling process, either the filtering or the heating of the malted-mash with peat-cakes, somehow gets that organic brown-tinged water to taste like something from heaven even though it is earthy and organic.

Now, even though we bought some whisky factory direct, the stuff was not cheap, like me. My friend and I calculated our funds, number of friends who actually deserved to taste this wonderful bog-whiskey, and came up with the economy version of a six-pack: six 500ml bottles. This would have worked fine in our luggage except we went overweight at the airport in Glasgow, a small hub in comparison to most airports. We rearranged our bags and thought that we might take one of the unopened half-liter bottles as a carryon. It didn’t work. I nicely asked the agent what would happen to it and she said it would be poured down the drain. I asked her to keep it for later, but she shook her head.  I saw a tear forming in her eye, so I knew it was true. She said I could drink it in front of her, but she had to keep it in her sight. So, I tried. Remember when I got to taste the wee dram at the distillery and it had the taste of a peat-bog, I can honestly say that after four or five brisk drams it lost the cutesy, fresh, organic taste and went right to the taste of a bracken marsh that oozes devilish vapors. I felt like a slogging bog monster. Apparently, what I thought was malodorous and evil was perceived as a well contented passenger who had a nip or two before maneuvering down the aisle. I was asleep as soon as the buckle was fastened, and the rest of the flight was uneventful.

Another of the local flavor favorites is Laphroaig. Distilled on the island of Islay it has the reputation of being less peaty and more smoky than Talisker. Again, if you visit the distillery the techniques of getting the local flavor into the whiskey must be a closely guarded secret because it is invisible. On the Isle of Skye, as just about anywhere in Scotland, the stream water is the color of tea, not coffee. If you drop a coin into a cup of coffee it is invisible, in tea you can tell the denomination, yet the tea stains your teeth worse than coffee. And if the taste came from the stream water, then all Scottish distilleries would produce peaty tasting scotch. At the end of the tour they too, give you a wee dram to sip and sniff. When you’re in company there is a tendency for everyone to be genteel and calm, maybe even a bit snobbish about their wee dram. I tend to be a bit different so when the lass I was with wanted my opinion on a bold taste of the dram (as I did take it in one gulp) I could na’ help but proclaim it to be like swallowing a campfire, and I don’t mean any less than the whole fekking thing; logs, flames, tents, marshmallows and weinies, and a whole bunch of people sittin’ around singing camp songs. I declare that one sip was an experience like I’ve never had before. It was the best camping adventure memory ever.

There you have it: two great local tastings from the western islands of Scotland. The complete spectrum of whiskey starts on one island and goes traipsing about the mainland for many months before ending up on the other island, and all the great distilleries making fine single-malt scotch that dot the country are included. What a great tasting country.

Gun Control

Rehashing some ideas: Why we need guns A) Protection B) Food C) Power

Item A is essentially covered by the Second Amendment and deals with individual rights as well as a national agenda, such as government military, police, and individual rights regarding protection of self and property.

Defining the weapons becomes a problem when it comes to individuals. Is there ever a time that an individual needs a weapon, for protection, that is of a combat style? Is there a need for an individual to have a military style weapon anywhere outside his/her residence? In a car?

Clarify military weapons by simply registering and licensing weapon production and importation of all weapons in the country. Style and model numbers would be labeled as military or assault weapons and those could only be legally held by licensed individuals who are audited yearly. The Pentagon would determine the legitimate style.

Clarification needed: define a residence; rural, farm, house, apartment, garage, storage room or treehouse.

Registration of legitimate weapons. Should it be required? Federal or State or County or City or Township?

Carrying a weapon by permit. Who authorizes sales and possession? Almost has to be a federal law with complete guidelines.

Many more questions that cannot be answered without federal compliance regulations.

 

Item B should be simple. Anyone with a license may hunt game according to state and local rules. Military style weapons designed for killing humans at a close range and multiple rounds of ammunition should not be allowed for use in hunting. Handguns may be used but should be limited to six rounds of ammunition which would be the same limit for rifles.

 

Item C is troublesome. Weapons of any sort give a person advantage over individuals without weapons. People often seek revenge or retribution by arming themselves with a weapon. It is unfortunate and needs to be dealt with as it happens.

Anyone caught arming or forming a group of more than one, will be considered to be forming a militia and should be incarcerated.

Recognizing that illegal weapons already exists, there should be a law limiting all ammunition clips for semi and automatic weapons to six rounds. Anyone caught selling or in possession of an illegal weapon would be sentenced to ten years in prison. Anyone caught firing such a weapon during a crime would be sentenced to life in prison.

These are my opinions. The 2nd Amendment is important and it should not be allowed to be used and twisted into weird arguments. Everyone who wants to have a gun under their pillow in order to sleep better should be able to do that. I hope they know how to use that weapon through practice, and I also hope they never have to pull that weapon in fear.

Life Like A River

Flow moves me as no will could,

Struggle to change is useless,

And when I follow obedient, flexible,

T’is life at its finest.

Current controls everything.

Time is no longer a struggle while

Living swift and sure.

Where it started I do not know,

When, I do not care;

Existence was a moment in time

Never to be lived again.

And then it is past,

Without thought or will,

Forward, fast, pulsing, swishing,

Alive – Until there comes an eddy.

Is this how it ends, forever circling,

Reliving moments, unable to change?

Swept to stagnation and absorbed

As life rushes by?

Is this the destiny I must endure?

A freshet from fate unknown

Flushed me into the current,

Past is gone.

There is only forward.

There is only now.

Eddy or Backwater

Life is an ever-changing moment in time, a stream or river that is in constant motion, never passing the same rock, the same clump of grass on the bank or root of a tree; until we get swallowed into an eddy or sentenced to an ignominious life as backwater, never to be rescued until death by drought or salvaged by flood.

My current state is an eddy; limbo. Memories of the stream, the adventure and pulsing current pushing me along, bouncing over obstacles and racing through openings, gave me meaning and identity. Now, all I have is that memory of what I once was. Being stuck in an eddy is a challenge. I am at the mercy of an unseen power that controls my destiny. I will either be swept back into the stream of life or spun uncontrolled to stagnation in backwater.

Depression is an eddy. Sailing in circles that never end, passing the time until another life sets us free. It is a powerless hope that relies on something unknown to release us to a destiny, whatever it may be. Please let it be soon. This endless swirling is unchanging monotony. If backwater is my destination, hope will be abandoned to stagnation because after that it would take a true miracle to get back to the stream.

Wait. An influx of new current into the eddy has changed my course. I have moved. Hope is renewed. Let it be so.

To be or not to be – Common

Wouldn’t life be grand if everyone used common sense? Seems a logical assumption, but it turns into a quagmire of ideas when defined, like the undiscovered country from whose bourn no traveler returns. Common sense is supposed to be something shared by all, alike. Aye, there’s the rub. It cannot be because each person is an individual. Extrapolation of every thought will make way through so many neurons that commonality will be decimated even if the results are similar.

Applying common sense or common logic to a critical thinking subject (for this example let’s use politics) there exists a massive amount of data to prove, unequivocally, that any commonality is impossible. Every outcome can be debated and dissected until the original question is lost; the native hue of resolution is sicklied over with pale cast of thought.

If Congress decided that the country needed a new constitution that applied equally to every individual, it would be impossible to come up with a better constitution than already exists. Take voting for example: popular vote versus electoral vote. There will always be an argument for each. Every item in our constitution is arguable. Are we to take arms against a sea of troubles and by opposing, end them? Members of Congress will disagree even without Republican or Democratic designations. To die, to sleep; no more. It will happen because each person is an individual. Decrying constituency ideals is so far from the truth that it should never be allowed to be mentioned.

We, every person in this country must realize that no governing body will be right for everyone, to die, to sleep, to sleep perchance to dream, and we must work with what we are given. Discussion with the interest of community at heart must be brought to bear. Ideas of great pith and moment, in this regard, their currents must never turn awry, and lose the name of action. No single person can survive, not even God can intervene.

 

Thanks for the inspiration, W. Shakespeare , in Hamlet’s Soliloquy.

Crimefightin’ Cellphone

It started as a passing thought several months back and has continued to grow in importance. The storage of data, and mostly unlimited communication. The only thing missing is how to use the device to protect yourself and others. The only obstacle to using a phone to photograph or video anything suspicious is an unjustified fear of violating somebody’s right to privacy. Please, please dismiss this presumption. Anything in the public domain or view is legal to photograph, even a policeman in the act of arresting someone. No rights are being violated if you can see it. Period.

Here is the photo and police drawing of the person of interest who the police were not able to locate. In late September 2017, a man was arrested in Colorado driving a car with Indiana license and bears a strong resemblance to the murder suspect. The police are investigating. Here is the arrest photo.

nation.jpg

So far, no evidence of proof has led to charges against this suspect, and that only means that a lot of testing still needs to take place.

The biggest point to take away from this is that if those brave girls hadn’t taken a picture of a suspicious man, this connection may have never been made. We do not yet know if they photographed the person who killed them or if that person is the one in custody in Colorado. There are questions we may never be able to answer and the outcome will always be horrible. The brave girls took a photo, as was their right.

What if they confronted the man as he approached them and told him that his picture was on their phone. Would that man have felt empowered to take their lives?

If every person who has a cell phone was aware that they could photograph anything suspicious, at any time, and have that information stored securely in case anything came of their suspicions, it would lead to solving many crimes. Those captured images might also lead to absolutely nothing, which is the desired outcome.

As a former detective, I can assure you that any person intent on committing a crime does so because they cannot be easily identified. If they know a photograph has been taken, they will most likely run away without finishing their criminal intention; especially a mugging or rape.

I am advocating a national campaign to teach elementary children how to use cell phones to fight crime. A national campaign could start with your local elementary school. Please help raise the awareness.

Cell Phone as a Personal Protective Device

 

 

A cell phone as a device for personal protection needs to become a standard. How to use it for protection is a simple matter of teaching. Making sure this teaching takes place is not so simple. To reach everyone in this country is a major undertaking, but it needs to happen. Consider the following idea: If the phrase “McGruff takes a bite out of crime” means anything to you, it is because of a nationwide advertising campaign started by the non-profit organization called the National Crime Prevention Council, that approached children in grade school with the idea of a dog/detective character whom they could trust to help them. If parents are worried about their grade-schooler’s safety, the child could use a cell phone device to monitor the child’s movement. The child could also be taught how to use the device proactively to identify anyone or anything the child felt was suspicious. (I won’t go into the teaching at this point) The cell device is a tool. Getting a child to acknowledge the device as a tool would be the job of a national advertising campaign similar to McGruff.

Setting up a non-profit organization is going to be my first priority. If you happen to read this and know a way to fund this idea, please find me with your advice. I wish to finance this idea with money that I do not have at this point.

For more thoughts on how development of an app for ALL cell phones should be a nationwide movement ordered, and monitored, by the government and computer affiliates, look back in this blog to posts from late 2016.