Lobbying by Police Chiefs, Legal?

The police chiefs of Baltimore County and of Oklahoma City recently wrote a lobbying  article for “thehill”  Senate Must Pass a Strong Background Checking Law  supporting pending legislation.  Baltimore County Police also released this article on its website and emailed it to recipients of its email crime alerts.  I could not help recalling it is a criminal offense under 18 USC, 1913, to use federal funds, either directly or indirectly, to lobby or otherwise try to influence congress, by “advertisement, telegram, telephone, letter, printed or written matter, or other device, intended or designed to influence in any manner a Member of Congress, a jurisdiction, or an official of any government, to favor, adopt, or oppose, by vote or otherwise, any legislation…”

I wonder how much federal money these agencies receive.

Even if DOJ said it is not a technical violation since they wrote it in their capacity as members of a private entity, and it must be okay since they support the administration’s position, that entity’s own documents clearly assert its policy agenda.  It is at best a poor use of these administrators’ positions, and a misuse of county emails and website resources. In January the Baltimore Sun reported on Baltimore County Police Chief Johnson’s testimony before the Senate Judicial Committee:

Speaking at an emotional hearing on federal gun control proposals, Baltimore County Police Chief James W. Johnson urged lawmakers Wednesday to close loopholes and ban assault weapon sales or risk more tragedies like the recent elementary school shooting in Connecticut.  Johnson, wearing his uniform, spent nearly four hours offering law enforcement’s case for tighter gun laws, confronting a well-known witness — National Rifle Association CEO Wayne LaPierre — and noting the proliferation of guns sometimes makes police work “creepy.”

If you guys want to have an impact, get out of the office, (but stay out of Washington. Nothing good ever happens there) grab a donut, and hit the “creepy” streets.

The vast majority of street cops believe you are simply wrong.

http://www.dmg.gov/documents/MEM_Impct_of_the_Rcnt_Chngs_to_Anti_Lobbying_Act_DOI_042403.pdf

Has Anything Changed?

September 11

It seems only fitting to comment on the ten year mark since the terrorist attacks on the U.S. But I cannot say anything that has not been said more profoundly by others.  I still worry about the same things I worried about ten years ago like, how will my kids turn out, who will die first, me or my wife, and why does any of it matter?

Last week in federal court in Baltimore a 29 year-old woman with no arrest record was on trial for conspiracy to distribute crack.  I worked on the case for her defense attorney and was astounded that such a weak case would end up in federal court.  She had been held in jail pending trial for months.  The admitted addict walked out of court a free woman after the judge granted a defense motion for acquittal.  There just was no evidence against her. Plenty against the co-defendants. But not her.

What does one have to do with the other?   Thousands dead and more wounded and maimed in the Global War on Terror, and one crack addict gets slammed with a bogus indictment.  How are they related?

Hey, I don’t have all the answers.   Gimme a break.  But somehow they are.  Trust me.

The Voice

Tonight seemed like just another night at BWI Airport waiting for another kid to arrive, but something was different.  The usual recorded TSA voice droned repeatedly with warnings not to accept bags that were not our own or they may be destroyed for security reasons, blah, blah, blah…

Tonight it was more…much more.

It was more than a common sense precaution, more than an obvious “DUH, don’t do that”, more than an out of control TSA telling us when we can or cannot wear shoes.   Eventually, the endless repetition (“the bag may be destroyed”), the mindless intoning over and over (did I mention the flight was late?) induced in me an almost hypnotic….NO, a zombie-like state of mindless anticipation.  The voice….

Waiting….watching….almost expecting disaster.  The voice… it just would not stop….It became my personal mandate. That is what TSA wants from us, right?  We are all part of the solution, right?  The voice …..my personal mantra…..I became one with the voice.  I WAS the voice except now the voice seemed to say, if someone hands you a bag that is not yours it MUST be destroyed for security reasons…it must …be….

My daughter needed a new backpack anyway.  Talk about awkward.

Who will stop this madness?

 

 

Justice

May 2, 2011

The United States delivered justice yesterday with a bullet to the head of Osama bin Laden in what appears to have been a textbook operation, capping years of painstaking work.  As usual, the conspiracy theorists immediately questioned the reports as a hoax, and the political hacks lobbed their partisan grenades back and forth.  Revelers celebrated in the manner of drunken sports fans after the World Series.

Many of us would have willingly been the trigger puller who killed our most reviled enemy since World War II.   Some fear revenge, as if Al Qaeda needed a reason to attack us more.

I am glad the man is dead.  I am glad we did it.  And I am especially glad the job came off with no loss of Americans.  But I don’t feel like celebrating.  For me to celebrate is to forget what was like on 9-11, and to forget the families who lost people in the attacks and in the war that continues.  It is a somber time.

The War on Terror won’t end with Bin Laden’s death.  This war began a long time ago, long before 9-11.  We just didn’t know it.  And, it is not easy to pinpoint a date.   But of one thing I am certain, extremist muslims declared war against the United States long before most of us ever heard of Osama Bin Laden.  Here is a short list, just a few of the actions taken against the U.S. in this war we didn’t know we were in:

  • 1979-Takeover of the US embassy in Tehran and hostage taking;
  • 1983-Beruit Barracks bombing;
  • 1985-Hezbollah hijacks TWA 847, murders a US sailor.
  • 1986-Pan AM flight 73 hijacked in Pakistan, 22 killed, blamed on Libya.
  • 1989-Muslim Terrorists firebomb a New York publisher because they were offended by Salman Rushdie’s book, Satanic Verses.
  • 1990-An early element of Al Queda murders Meir Kehane in a Manhatten hotel lobby.

The list is endless.  But the list is pointless without understanding.  Bin Laden’s death is pointless without knowing.

The war is simply a battle between good and evil.  Not an abstract archetype, but a fight against evil.  Can the war be won? If we win, how will we know?     “Where were you on 9-11?”  Most of us can answer quickly. If you were alive at the time you probably remember where you were when President Kennedy was assassinated.

If Bin Laden’s death matters, will you and I remember where we were on May 1?  It may not matter. What truly matters are the innocent lives lost, and the lives lost while bravely meeting the enemy.  “A soldier marches toward the sounds of the guns.”-unknown

Now what?

WorldFamousPrivateEye Blog    April 18, 2011

Now what?

Now what?

I really want to write a blog on some topic other than TSA, but they won’t let me. PLEASE, TSA, STOP BEING STUPID SO I CAN CRITICIZE SOMEONE ELSE.

Their latest public relations fiasco, if you managed to miss it, is the involuntary “pat down” of a skinny six year-old girl in the New Orleans airport last week.  Watch the video here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-3sH1GaO_nw&feature=player_embedded

She definitely looked like she was hiding something.  All six year-olds are guilty of something.

Words fail me. Stupid, moronic, senseless, ineffective and incompetent, all seem inadequate to describe the TSA, and most particularly its director John Pistole. He and he alone is responsible. (Okay, Janet Napolitano is to blame as well.) According to the TSA blog this example of child molesting was entirely consistent with agency policy:

“A video taken of one of our officers patting down a six year-old has attracted quite a bit of attention. Some folks are asking if the proper procedures were followed. Yes. TSA has reviewed the incident and the security officer in the video followed the current standard operating procedures.”    –  4/13/11

Bizarre.

Former Governor Jesse Ventura and some commercial pilots are suing TSA over the constitutionality of airport screening.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8j4Q4NXCKu8

And, NJ State Senator Doherty considers the search of this child to be a sex crime.

http://video.foxbusiness.com/v/4643449

HELLO TSA.  You have gone too far.  I said it months ago. Others have said it.  You don’t get to abuse the trust that WE gave you.  We gave it to you. We can take it away.

It is obvious there is only one solution, a complete dismantling of TSA starting at the top.  Pistole should just go. Go away.  And Secretary Napolitano, go back to Arizona.  The two of you obviously cannot learn from your past mistakes.  You are embarrassing.

But in the spirit of being fair and balanced, check out the TSA Puppy Program. Seriously, I could not make this stuff up.

http://blog.tsa.gov/2011/04/tsa-welcomes-its-500th-puppy.html