Monday, September 18, 2017

Eject, Eject Eject!

Col. Jessup (Jack Nicholson): [in Jessup's office] Hmmmm...transfer Santiago. Yes, I'm sure you're right. I'm sure that's the thing to do. Wait, I've got a better idea. Let's transfer the whole squad off the base. Let's... On second thought, Windward! Let's transfer the whole Windward Division off the base. John, go on out there and get those boys down off the fence, they're packing their bags. Tom!
Tom (Joshua Molina): Yes, sir?
Col. Jessup: Get me the President on the phone. We're surrendering our position in Cuba!


"That's the stupidest thing I've ever read." So wrote a person on Facebook.

Talk about a high hurdle to clear. Sign onto Facebook, read a couple of posts and one will see that the level of written discourse there has found an express elevator to the cellar. A deep, dank, dark cellar. So, tossing around the superlative "stupidest ever" carries significant peril.

The article in question suggests that the Florida Keys - the whole archipelago - be abandoned. The author, writing in Forbes magazine, apparently had an epiphany after watching TV coverage of Hurricane Irma. The Florida Keys, he observes sagely, is vulnerable to storms.

I know, right? I had to sit down, too.

This proposal is part of a larger plan to "retreat to the interior." The theory is that the damaging storms are all coastal in nature, hard to defend against and, anyway, with sea levels increasing we'll have ocean-front property in Denver before long. The property damage alone, with some recovery costs (and insurance premium offsets) born by government, argue for abandonment.

Well. Detroit has suffered more property damage as a result of failed governmental policies than the Keys has from Irma. Let's abandon Detroit. Wait a minute. New Orleans is still recovering from Katrina. Let's abandon New Orleans. Let's move everyone and everything from along the Gulf Coast. Pat, get me the President on the phone. We're headed back to Ireland.

The lives lost, the homes destroyed, the livelihoods swept away by Irma, all of that is tragic in epic proportions. Many of us contribute money to the clean-up effort not because we fancy the props we get. We see the pictures, understand that these people are hurting and wish there was something more we could do.

And then a fellow, looking at the wreckage of his beach bar, posts "We'll be open as soon as we can." A restauranteur pays out of his own pocket to feed his community. People share, they work long hours for no pay to help clean up the mess. And they go right back to living in a place they call home.

This is not to say that some people will leave and never come back. That is their choice and, frankly, if Mother Nature put an ass whipping on me every decade or so I'd be inclined to get out of the way, too. But, for those hearty souls who will defend their homes and way of life, my hat is off. Rebuild.

We'll be by to visit. I'm okay with a generator, a blender and a Painkiller. And my toes in the water, ass in the sand and my soul mate beside me. Maybe the dogs, too, bathed in the glowing hospitality of people who cling to the preposterous notion that where there is life, there is hope.





Sunday, September 17, 2017

Gone With the Wind

Ralphie: Hey Curly, what all happens in a hurricane?
Curly: The wind blows so hard the ocean gets up on its hind legs and walks right across the land.
Key Largo, 1948.
Irma was an asshole.

Many of the most beautiful spots in the world were devastated in one day. On some islands, it is as though everything - buildings, vehicles, boats, trees...even the soil itself...disappeared into air so thick it sucked up a whole ocean in one part of the Caribbean and deposited it in another. The wind blew with such incredible force on Key West that it stripped the paint off of a concrete marker.

We sit at our computers, smart phones and tablets and marvel. And then, we give.

We here at Bikecopblog have a soft spot for beach bars. Some of our most amazing moments, some of the most interesting times and some of the most valuable places are located where the sand and sea meet. The Eye of the Storm, a restaurant featured prominently in Out of Ideas and The Heart of the Matter, is in actuality The PierSide Grill on Estero Island, in the town of Fort Myers Beach. It was a favorite whenever I would visit. Daughter Beth and I would drop off my suitcase, head for the beach, down a few cold Coronas and catch up. Sometimes, it was three or four in the morning before we left the beach and caught a few hours of sleep.

Pat and I drove with Beth down to The Keys, to Islamorada, and settled at a beach bar for drinks. It was a beautiful early spring day, a light breeze blowing in. We had not a care in the world as we munched seafood, sipped island drinks and toasted to our love for each other. That bar now is an empty collection of posts.

There are a ton of relief organizations out there, reputable places that are in the business of feeding, clothing and housing people who were left with their lives and the clothing on their backs. Find them, and give them money. Money doesn't need to be packaged, or frozen. Money doesn't know black from white, rich from poor. It supports people like the restauranteur on St. Johns who has been giving away 600 meals a day to feed his friends until they can get back on their feet. Money buys time, it buys life...it buys hope.

It buys things for beach bar owners who put this on Facebook this weekend:

"Even if it's a generator, an old door on saw horses and a blender. We'll be on the beach, making Painkillers, until we've rebuilt."

As Patton said - a person that eloquent has to be saved.

Just a Piece of Paper

“I am increasingly persuaded that the earth belongs exclusively to the living and that one generation has no more right to bind another to it's laws and judgments than one independent nation has the right to command another.” Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to James Madison.

Washington could be foolhardy and ill-tempered. Adams could be vain, irritable, Jefferson evasive, at times duplicitous. And even in their day, many saw stunning hypocrisy in the cause of liberty being championed by slave masters. Historian David McCullough, Jefferson Lecturer at the National Endowment for the Humanities, 2003. 

Today is Constitution Day. That remarkable document was signed by its authors on this date in 1787, and sent on to the states to be ratified. There was no guarantee that they would do so.

It was a flawed document. It provided for the continuation of slavery, did not command the vote by women. It is maddeningly vague occasionally, written as it is in an English with which we are only marginally familiar. Although provisions for its amendment were written into it, the process was made so cumbersome that it is rarely successful.

Yet... Millions of men and women have raised their right hand to provide America with a blank check - "Up to and including my life" - and promised to support, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic. Why?

Not because it is perfect, but because it gives us a uniquely American way to resolve the issues that face us. We are a fractious, bickering, petulant society. We can be selfish, lazy, opportunistic. Every human frailty, every pettiness and shortcoming resides here, jockeying for advantage under the law.

But, so does virtue, service and sacrifice. America is less a territory than it is an idea, that everyone has value, everyone has a right to raise their voice in how our affairs are conducted. Everyone has the right to arrange their lives as they see fit. Government exists to safeguard rights given by "their Creator," not to define them narrowly for its own purposes. It exists in its present form because this generation has accepted the gift bestowed upon us two centuries before we were born - the gift of a free self-government.

A man I met in a class several years ago said it in one sentence - "Anywhere I stand is the land of the free and the home of the brave."

Support, protect and defend. Happy Birthday.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Alive and Well, But Thanks For Asking

"You, Flock of Seagulls. You know why we're here?" Jules Winnfield (Samuel L. Jackson) Pulp Fiction (1994).

There is, apparently, some lesser-light moron "teaching" (having never taken a class from him, I use that term only because his employer does) at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York. He has had, as one suspects, a number of police officers and sheriff's deputies in his classes.

He found his way onto Twitter recently and posted something about the positive aspects of teaching "Future dead cops." He also occupies, in some capacity, a leadership role in the "Antifa" movement of violent assholes who show up in black hoodies and masks at rallies. They are known mostly for mouthing empty, vacuous phrases of the "You're not the boss of me" genre, and throwing objects at the local cops. He says he likes many of his officer-students as people, but as a profession they are all thugs.

Well, aren't you a special kind of jerk.

John Jay, the college's namesake, was a "Founding Father," and, although initially a slaveholder was an early abolitionist. He was one of three authors of the Federalist Papers - Alexander Hamilton and James Madison the others. Jay was nominated by George Washington to be the first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court upon the ratification of the Constitution in 1789.

In the 1960s, American law enforcement struggled to rid itself of a well-deserved reputation. It wasn't that our profession was corrupt -that was sort of a given. Racism, sexism and a host of other ills plagued departments all over the country. Among the proposed solutions - advanced education for officers, on the theory that individuals with college degrees would improve the quality of policing. Into that hopeful era was born the John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

Fast forward to 1971. Those of us who were looking for a college teaching criminal justice had limited choices. There was John Jay, Michigan and Northeastern University, in Boston. I chose NU (for reasons that are, at best, obscure). They, the other institutions that created their own programs, and society's evolving demands for better police protection have born a very positive change. For those of us who drank that particular Kool Aid, got our degrees and set about to make a few changes from the inside...46 years later (34 of them as a cop, 2 as a lawyer) I think it's worked out better than we'd hoped.

Law enforcement officers today are more professional, better trained and more capable than ever. There are far fewer examples of graft, racism and favoritism than previously. In a recent comment a person differed with that perception, saying "What about..." and naming two recent scandals. Okay.

Two, out of the millions of citizen contacts police officers make. Two, out of the nearly million LEOs in this country. Two? The results - the average officer finds it difficult to sit in a public place and enjoy a cup of coffee and a breather without being "pestered" by citizens thanking them for what they do.

Part of it is because modern police departments demand a lot from their employees. To compete with those expectations officers continue their educations, increase their understandings of how the criminal justice needs of a free society are addressed and serve their communities with honor.

So... Hey, Flock of Seagulls. You know why the cops in your classes are so respectful of you?

You don't matter.

Friday, September 8, 2017

The Blue Line

Don't you just want to get on a plane, a boat... Anything, and give them a chance to go home while you have the watch?


Wednesday, September 6, 2017

John Has A Long Mustache

There are times when the only reason I go to work is because my feet hit the floor in the morning. After nearly thirty-nine years of law-related employment, there may be more battles to fight, but I'm relegated to the role of aging veteran, seated in the lawn chair, lap blanket in place, waving a tiny flag at the passing parade. Three cheers.




And then...

One of my office mates is in the phone. He is speaking to who knows whom, and utters a name that can only be a comic book character. Pedro Zulu, crime fighter. But, a fellow supervisor utters--

"The cat is in the garbage can. I repeat."

Explaining why this is one of the funniest things I've ever heard will only take away from the spontaneity of the moment. He is a bright, engaging man with a wicked sense of humor. I can't stop laughing. It reminds me of the great days this profession affords.

I'm going to let my feet hit the floor again tomorrow.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Heels and Toes

“Never be a spectator of unfairness or stupidity. Seek out argument and disputation for their own sake;”
Christopher Hitchens, Letters to a Young Contrarian

Adversity does not build character, it reveals it.

James Lane Allen

A few thoughts on the disaster in Houston:

Texans are proud, resourceful, resilient people. They set aside their own losses, forked over their own money and showed up in everything that could float to evacuate people. The call went out, and they responded.

First responders, as a whole, mean it when they say they serve their communities with their lives, if necessary. Cops from all over - not just Texas - showed up in force to relieve the brothers and sisters in the Houston area working to exhaustion.

https://www.click2houston.com/video/police-officers-from-all-over-arrive-in-houston-to-help-assist-in-harvey-recovery (copy and paste)

Mother Nature can be a hard ass.

Katrina was a cautionary tale for FEMA and the President. It was a lesson that was not lost on them.

The Press can be an ass.

Helicopters and their military crews are worth their weight in gold. Whatever they are getting paid, it's not enough. However expensive they are to buy and fly - it's worth it. We should have a lot of them.

I don't know what the pictures of people who have just lost everything, still with huge grins taking selfies with President Trump, means. Maybe it just means they were caught up in the moment. But, they were more meaningful than staged protests, a handful of violent assholes (of all persuasions) and the morons who seem obsessed with The First Lady's shoe choices.

'Merica. Can do.