Wednesday, April 25, 2012

If I've Offended You - Read On

"And now, for something completely different."

Election season is upon us, in all its glory. Right wing rabble rousers contend that the President's Ball Park Frank was, in actuality, the severed tail of an Alaskan Malamute (Beau made him do it). Left wing loose screws counter with obscure references to the Mormon angel Moroni (as opposed to the angel Marconi, the patron saint of wireless communication) and Mitt Romney's belief he is a direct descendant. Okay, I made that part up.

On the one hand, I want to get into the game. What good is the First Amendment - pre Nancy Pelosi's amazingly ghastly amendment, at least - if I can't take a few laptop-warmed-up-on-porch moments to rant.

However, this blog was never meant for that. Talking about baseball, cruises and some of the topics of the day suit all of us better. They make me happy. They help sell books - that makes me really happy.

So, taking a page from one of the smartest guys I know, I'm branching out. Come here for cop stuff, law stuff and general conversations. Go over to my other blog - Vent for my Spleen - to talk politics.

I'll have the right covered, so you'll have to bring your left with you.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

An Unwasted Gaffe

"You never want a serious crisis to go to waste."*

In a question and answer session during President Obama's appearance at the Summit of the America's in Cartagena, Columbia, Mr. Obama somehow referred to The Falklands, a British-ruled group of islands off the coast of Argentina, as "The Maldives." He apparently intended to say "Las Malvinas," the name preferred by Argentina, who lays claim and invaded in 1982. It seems an amazing mistake as the islands were the scene of a nasty little war that killed a thousand people, and in which we were decidedly not neutral. The misstatement prompted me to look up just where the hell the Maldives are.

Sunset in the Maldives
Well, The Republic of Maldives (according to Wiki) is a series of coral atolls in the Indian Ocean. With a population of around a hundred thousand, it is noted for having the lowest highest (not a typo, thank you very much) elevation in the world - a touch under eight feet. As one might expect, even the theoretical possibility of the oceans rising has their undivided attention. Fishing and tourism drive their economic engine. Pictures, I'm sure, don't do it justice.

Of course, while the mainstream media largely ignored the misstatement, or labeled it "more akin to those of his predecessor," right wing punditry had a field day. Powerline's John Hinderaker was perhaps the most restrained, allowing that we have become used to the President's factual carelessness once he deviates from a prepared text.

Mark Steyn, as usual, was not similarly enjoined. He launched into a dyspeptic rant about, among other things, the quality of speechwriting from Obama's staff. Since this nugget was immersed in a column otherwise dedicated to the failings of the Secret Service (mostly involving the ill-timed contract dispute between a personal services provider and her...Secret Service customer) I assume it was a throw-away.  Nevertheless, Mr. Steyn once again swung the broadsword of his remarkable wit haphazardly, slicing into a group of people who must have gasped along with the rest of us.

His is but one example of overreaching from the right. Yes, it makes me laugh (I'm not much of a fan of the man from Chicago...Hawaii...Indonesia. Never mind). Come November, Mr. Obama's contract is up for renewal. Somebody ought to get their facts straight before we decide whether to rehire him and his teleprompter.

Maybe that somebody should be those of us who don't think an Obama encore is warranted.

*Rahm Emanuel, former White House Chief of Staff, The Wall Street Journal conference, November 2008.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Droning On

"No thinking, that comes later. You write your first draft with your heart."*

Claudia Jean "Cici" Onofrio buttoned her uniform shirt in the locker room.

The beginning of a new manuscript, with new characters and story line. In the "old" days a blank sheet of paper stared back, mockingly. Today, in the lower left corner of the screen - "Page 1 of 1  Words: 0." Not even a title and only the barest plot idea. The best moment of the entire project. Oh, except when Marci Baun, Wild Child's publisher, says "We'll publish that." Okay, that's better. Go with me, though.

 I write about police officers because I know them, have met hundreds - perhaps thousands - over the course of my thirty-three year career. Many of them have found great success. Several are dead. All of the cops have contributed something to my understanding of what it is to be in law enforcement at the turn of a century, a time when our profession is changing. Men cops are interesting characters to write. But, the women.... Fabulous. Why?

Here, I offer a apology. I'm going to indulge in gross overgeneralization, and at some point offend. I mean to slight no one, and offer apologies in advance.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Oh, I've Slipped the Surly Bonds of Earth*

"A helicopter is 10,000 totally unrelated moving parts, bent on self destruction, flying in relatively close formation."

Pimp my helicopterToday, I used the Christmas gift certificate my wife gave me to fly in a helicopter. Big whoop? Maybe. Thirty minutes of vibrating our way around a city I've lived in for the better part of thirty years, landing at virtually the same place we started. We never got more than a thousand feet in the air, an altitude most commercial aircraft attain before they get to the end of the runway on takeoff. In thirty minutes we made it from Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport to downtown Denver and back. I don't need lights and sirens to do that in the police car.

"Hovering is for pilots who love to fly but have no place to go."

Twenty years into a successful marriage, it's hard to experience something unexpected. Of course there are the blind-side things creeping into a life - an unfortunate diagnosis, an unanticipated life event. Somehow, my wife figured out how to give me a gift so unexpected, and so perfect, that it reinforces how people who seem settled in routine can offer the occasional, wonderful surprise.

"An aircraft in flight wants to fly. A helicopter in flight wants to crash."

I arrived precisely on time to my appointment at Colorado HeliOps, was greeted by my genial host Dennis, and introduced to the various of the "crew." An affable, earnest young man gave me a safety briefing ("don't walk into the tail rotor") and I signed the usual release form stating (I'm a lawyer, so I'm paraphrasing) if the helicopter crashes it's really my fault and my heirs and assigns - wife, kids, dogs, cats, Facebook friends - can all go pound sand. I met the other two guys who would be passengers with me, killing time in the simulator while our pilot and helicopter returned from an elementary school, dropping off two grownups dressed in Easter Bunny suits.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Mr. Marbury's Commission* UPDATED

"I beg your pardon,I never promised you a rose garden."

Today, President Barack Obama delivered a late amicus curiae brief with the US Supreme Court, from the Rose Garden of the White House, in support of the law colloquially known as "Obamacare." In it he implicitly urged the justices to overrule a case he evidently considers ancient, overreaching, and poorly written titled William Marbury v. James Madison. A little background is necessary.

On March 3, 1801, President John Adams, just before his term expired, signed a series of commissions, appointing members of his party to a variety of judicial offices. One William Marbury, a native of Maryland and a prosperous financier, was active in Maryland politics and a vigorous supporter of the Adams presidency. His office was to be justice of the peace in the DC District.

On the following day, Marbury's appointment was approved by the Senate; however, to go into effect, the commissions had to be delivered to those appointed ("Signed, sealed and delivered, I'm yours"). Delivery to Marbury did not take place prior to Adams' exit from office, and the commission expired.

Mr. Marbury sued, taking his case directly to the Supreme Court on the basis of a jurisdictional law passed by Congress. Here is where it gets interesting.

Forty-eight year old Chief Justice John Marshall, a Revolutionary War veteran (Valley Forge survivor) and friend of George Washington, wrote the opinion for the court, a decision now widely known as Marbury v. Madison. How widely known?