Friday, October 24, 2008

Of Water and Stone

Behind stone walls the waters are pent
The stones are earthly demigods bent
On saving us all in their ghastly image
Of Carl and Joseph and Vladimir’s lineage
Those demigods fear that each man might think
For a moment to fetch his own water to drink
Lifted and cupped within each man’s own hands
So decreed it is that the waters be dammed
Each man is to get the same number of drops
Even those who are growing the crops
A few are more equal, like those at the top
But one thing is certain, the free-flowing must stop
So parted and parceled, parsed and partitioned
The water is clouded and roundly conditioned
As children are born in the dam’s shadow, gray
They age and they labor knowing no other way
Still the demigods fear for they know deep inside
The destroyer of stone in water abides
What fathers drank deeply, is dreamt of by their grandsons
To inspire their kin to seek out stone masons
And open a crack that each man may be blessed
The power of water on stone does the rest

Be well,

Saturday, September 20, 2008

AIG, Ben Bernanke, and the Sympathies of a Free Market Capitalist

Did taxpayers REALLY just give AIG an $85 billion dollar bailout?

Turns out, not so much.
For those not in the know, American International Group (AIG) is one of the world’s largest insurance companies, and they insure, well…a lot of things. AIG’s primary and re-insurance policies cover everything from life insurance and annuities to financial securities. It is one part of this business—the part that insures a specific kind of financial security, mortgage-backed Collateralized Debt Obligations (CDOs)—that has them in so much hot water. It is not that the company is bad per se, and it is not even that the company is not profitable (it is). The problem is that the insurance on the mortgage-backed CDOs covered by AIG are in so much trouble that the credit ratings of the issuers are being negatively impacted. Well, in this sense, companies are just like individuals. If one’s credit rating heads South, then other people and banks that you use for loans will charge you a higher interest rate AND—very much to the point at hand—they will likely require you to put more down or have more equity at hand in case there is a problem. This is what is happening to AIG.

If you are a company with the reach and size of AIG and you pay just a little bit higher interest rate, then you end up with billions of dollars of increased costs and will be required to have tens of billions more in readily available capital assets overnight—corporate bonds, stocks, and real estate don’t count, they want you to have that in cash or US Treasury Notes. AIG has hundreds of billions of dollars in assets across the spectrum. It is, as they say, a balanced portfolio. To meet these newly minted capital requirements would require then to literally flood the market with sales of stocks, bonds, real estate, and even some of the businesses that they own within days. This fire sale would drive down prices on all those assets. Real estate and business units on this scale can take literally years to sell, so bonds and stocks would have to be the first to go.

Imagine the Unimaginable
In their current fragile state, imagine the impact of tens of billions of dollars in “sell at market” orders flying into the dimly-lit corridors of Wall Street. Ben Bernanke, Hank Paulson, and Christopher Cox imagined just this sort of thing.***

It must be stated that the patently extra-Constitutional (and therefore, in my book, atrocious) bailout of AIG comes in the form of a loan facility. A mustachioed and cloaked man did not show up at AIG headquarters with a handcuffed attaché' filled with blood diamonds while whispering, “Is it safe?” This is an important distinction. The much ballyhooed number of $85 billion is a loan secured by what amounts to a 79.9% “ownership” of AIG assets. They have to pay this loan back at an interest rate equal to 850 basis points over LIBOR (many readers will have home loans or credit card interest rates based on similar structures). If AIG does not pay the money back, the government gets the assets and the stockholders lose their investments (fair enough). This loan must be paid back in two years. Thought about in this way, this is a bailout of “time” rather than “money.” Two years will allow AIG to sell assets and cover obligations in an orderly way. Their other (very successful) businesses will continue to operate and earn a profit, assets and businesses will be sold over time at what they hope will be fair market values, the loan will be paid back with interest, and the impact to the overall economy will be minimized—though not eliminated. How much of the bill will taxpayers be on the hook for after all this washes out? No one knows, but—based upon estimated asset values—anywhere from a small net profit to a few tens of billions of dollars depending on how successful the overall economic recovery plan is.

The Empire Strikes Back
Do not get me wrong--I am structurally and philosophically against such government action. If we include Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and the others out there, the Federal Government now has substantial control over about 50% of the nation’s mortgages and the insurance that covers them. This is terrible for free markets, capitalism, the republican form of government, and freedom in general. A few years hence one wonders if the almighty heroes of Washington DC will set the markets free again or cling jealously to their new empires (I shudder at the possibilities). However, to be fair, we must recognize that we were at serious risk of having trillions of dollars in assets suddenly become un-insured and un-insurable for the short term as AIG flirted with the idea of bankruptcy to buy time. That very real possibility, coupled with a likely asset sell-off-driven market disruption, is probably the best definition of "uncertainty" that one can find outside of Schrodinger’s Cat.**

Markets--as we all know--hate uncertainty. As such, the economy was at a very real risk and I suspect that Ben & company looked into the depths of AIG's business structure and saw a spaghetti nest of deals and re-insured assets that could not be untangled in the time allowed—in their opinion—and therefore took what they believed to be the lesser of two very distasteful evils.

Not a Golden Parachute, More Like and Emergency Rip Cord
Thomas Sowell—noted economist and a true lover of all free markets—once postulated that if one were to fall out of an airplane, the price you would be willing to pay for a parachute would quickly escalate to your entire net worth, but there is no way that the market could react fast enough to deliver one to you in time. To his way of thinking, these types of things occasionally occur in nations and should rightly be the only times when we accept drastic governmental actions that interfere with free markets. Perhaps we should allow a little charitable reflection on this concept when we deride Mr. Bernanke and the actions of his economic team.

Be well,

* Full Disclosure: I own about one hundred shares of AIG--now worth the equivalent of one high-quality steak dinner with cocktails.
** Yes, I know that Heisenberg is a better analogy to uncertainty, but the “alive/dead” paradox is far more prosaic under the circumstances.
*** Ben Bernanke is the head of the Federal Reserve Bank, Hank Paulson is the Treasury Secretary, and Christopher Cox leads the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

More information can be found in the MarketWatch article.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Hype “O” crite? How Sarah Palin Exposed Oprah Winfrey

To Palin, or Not to Palin?
Oprah Winfrey is losing a few fans, probably for the first time in her career. She who is famous for bonding with her decidedly female-centric audience and calling every female guest “girlfriend” has discovered at least one lady she does not want to bond with; Sarah Palin, the nominated Republican candidate for Vice President.

Oprah’s Un-fairness Doctrine
Now it must be said that I am no proponent of the Fairness Doctrine; that misguided and elitist effort to force certain broadcasters and journalists to carry opposing opinions and representatives on their capitalistic and privately-owned programs. Just the opposite. In Oprah’s case, she most definitely owns her show and should be able to put anyone on it that she wishes, banish anyone that she does not, and to enjoy or suffer the consequences therein through the free market of her fan base. But her claim that she has decided to NOT have Sarah Palin (arguably the hottest interview ticket in town) on the Oprah Winfrey Show because, “I made the decision not to use my show as a platform for any of the candidates” is a bit hard to swallow.*

Oprah’s Favorite Candidate?
Is there anyone who has not heard Oprah calling Obama “my favorite Senator” or seen her hosting events and giving speeches on his behalf? Did she not arrange a gushing interview with Barak’s wife Michelle for O Magazine?** Has she not introduced and hosted and anchored events to no end for the Obama-nation? (The links are many—search YouTube and News)

Could it possibly be that Oprah knows who she wants to be president? Could it be that she also knows—all of those far too friendly “girlfriend” comments aside—that somehow having the opportunity for an exclusive interview with a successful, popular, stand-on-her-own-two-feet, truly strong, and independent woman who has a fair chance of becoming the first female Vice President of the United States without the need of riding on a man’s coat-tails—thus fulfilling the aspirations of over one hundred years of feminist promise since the days of suffrage—might just not be in the best interests of “her” candidate?

One can argue politics. One can argue freedom. I would not rise to criticize if Oprah said, “Hell no, it’s my show!” and got about filling her popular TV time-slot with segments on how to use common house-hold items in the creation of “Obama for President” posters for your kid’s kindergarten classroom. But to spend over a year campaigning for one side and then to obliquely dismiss a truly historic interview opportunity with some feigned notion of electoral objectivity is, at this point in the game, just silly, stupid, and “O” so hypocritical.

Perhaps some of her ardent fans are seeing these more unseemly traits for the very first time.

Be well,

Thursday, September 04, 2008


Life is refined for us

Our love made more complete
As the generations planted
Spring up about our feet

As the summer rains and solstice
Quench their peaking needs
We determine by time and distance
If sown among grasses or weeds

For by our hands all manner are planted
And they will reap what we have sown
Within them the seeds we've planted
Bearing fruit once they have grown

Sow therefore with caution
Plant your lessons with great care
For the harvest of your sowing
Is the burden they will bear

Be well,

(tip 'o the hat to UJ)

Monday, April 07, 2008


“Each one of them that heeds the call,
Veritably to the justice hall,
Ends not with a simple vote or tally
Reaching unto every street and alley.

Yet the pealing of the Liberty Bell
Makes low the gates of tyrant hell.
Ask I, ‘Who should ring it?’ and
None answers, save one outstretched hand.”

Be well,

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Truth, Error, Lies, and Deception

No lie exists until spoken, therefore lies serve at the pleasure of the liar. Error exists only upon action, therefore errors serve as traps to the actor. Truth stands unspoken and without recognition or action. No deception exists until truth, error, and lie are in the hands of the deceiver—they are the raw materials with which he plies his craft.

Be well,

Thursday, April 03, 2008


A bit if meat, a draught of wine
A spoon of kingly porridge
Each rests within temporal reach
And within these we may forage

Tell me then which is not for me
From which I must refrain
Yank upon the steely bit
Place your hand upon the rein

You who say, “There be no God
And each man’s choices are his own”
Would make me pay another’s fees
And set yourself upon that throne

Can quorum pars enslave a man
By lot or plebiscite
Without risking rude awakenings
When the slaves don to unite?

Be well,

Monday, March 31, 2008

She Sleeps

Just a few hours ago she competed for my attention. As I wrote and thought at my desk—as I reasoned and argued privately with Augustine, Moore, and Emerson—she was there in the room wishing to flirt only with me. Occasionally I would grant her a glance and smile to recognize her presence before returning to my task. And even though she was somewhat steeped in jealousy against the preoccupations of my mind, she understood in her own way and let me do my work.

Hours have passed and my lust for work is satisfied for now. I can turn away from the lettered keys and set aside my reference books. Where now is the woman?

I find her asleep in bed. The room is dark, but not so dark that she is hidden from me. The temperature of the air is pleasant—so much so that, even as she soundly sleeps, she has pushed the sheets and comforter down below her legs and I can see her completely. And see her I do, with loving eyes.

During the day she is animated and quick to smile. She is fond of making comic faces and acting out her stock of characters for entertainment sake. In all of this she is attractive and vivacious—her red hair and opulent figure drawing many eyes as she enjoys her day. But I have long held that she is never more beautiful than when she is sleeping. She is a pretty girl at peace who is made all the more pretty by the lack of effort. She is beautiful and I have become the voyeur of her dreaming.

It is somewhat ironic that she who desired my attention now has it so fully and without effort. I can think of nothing else, nor do I want to. Do I arouse her from her sleep? It would seem only fitting since in my rapt adoration she has aroused me. Perhaps not, for I would be rousing her more for me than her, and a selfish motive might bring diminishment to the moment.

Earlier, as I set about my work, I could feel her loving and wanting me even as I drove on, compelled by my thoughts. Does she feel me now in her sleep? Does the velvet shroud of night that holds her eyes closed also diffuse that communication? Or rather, does she know, on a level only achieved by decades of companionship, that I love and want her too—making the force of my longing and love strong enough to press through consciousness and whisper my affection into her ear as she walks through the garden of dreams?

I feel so deeply that I must at least touch her. I reach out into the dark and gently lay my hand upon hers and I swear that I can feel the faintest, almost imperceptible movement as she grips mine in return. Hand in hand, we walk together in the garden.

Be well,

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Frogs and Alligators

Left as I was in the garden of Frogs
Flicking at flies and croaking on logs
Mired in muck within sensual bogs
In the filtered light of sunset through the fogs

Loose in that swamp was nature’s debater
With a tear in his eye he might eat you later
If you say that he’s only a wry alligator
He’ll convince all that it’s only because you’re a hater

So I decided to leave the frogs in that place
I’d had enough of that amphibian race
Their duplicitous kind and duplicitous face
Have since been by alligator erased


Be well,

Thursday, February 28, 2008

William F. Buckley Jr., RIP

It might be said that a great man is indeed great if the lives of those around him would be different had he not lived. By this definition, William F. Buckley Jr. was a great man. Much has been said and written and no doubt much more will come—fitting tributes by his many admirers and friends, perhaps derision and scorn from his numerous philosophical opponents. But it might also be said that only truly great men have so many loyal friends and ardent enemies.

Godfather of "C"
Would we have had a Barry Goldwater, a Ronald Reagan, or the thriving and intelligent set of noble right-leaning minds of today had we not had a Buckley? Perhaps another intellectual godfather of the “Big C” Conservative movement would have stepped into the fore—and perhaps not.

But for today, we hopefully lay politics, economics, and religion aside and remember the man himself. Astute and intelligent, urbane and erudite, brilliant in debate and discourse, and possessing of a complex and extensive vocabulary for which he is well known. In fact, his command of the English language and lexicon were sufficient to send the most learned grammarian scurrying for an unabridged dictionary—one that Mr. Buckley himself might have edited.

That Accent
He also possessed a unique accent—often humorously imitated—that many thought affected. Rather, it was due to spending his formative years in Mexico City (his father was stationed there) and learning native Spanish—a language he adored his entire life—then French as a second language before attending school in England where he learned British English as his third. Cap this off with the distinct lingual influence of University at Ivy-league Yale and life in Connecticut…there you have it. But though certainly not affected, that unique accent proved effective in probative interviews and scintillating debates on his long-running “Firing Line” television show and upon the world stage.

An Interesting Life
He authored literally dozens of influential books—fiction, non-fiction, and instructional—and thousands of articles. We remember his ardent defense of Catholicism, his National Review magazine, the thousands of television appearances, his ever-present humor and willingness to laugh, the political candidacy and activism, military service and brief employment with the CIA, accomplished musicianship (harpsichord and piano)…this is an interesting life not done justice here.

Many of us were secretly concerned for Bill Buckley after the death of his loving wife and life-long partner Patricia last year. Their love and affection for each other was clearly profound and respectful. Buckley’s health had suffered over these last years and devoted souls are made more fragile when the object of devotion is lost. They are joined now in the heaven of their life-long Roman Catholic faith—and Saint Peter himself best mind his questioning at the gates.

William F. Buckley Jr., died on February 27, 2008, at age 82. He is survived by his prominent son Christopher, his extended family, and a very long list of colleagues and admirers. RIP.

Be well,

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Rush is Wrong on McCain, and Obama is Not Carter
The bitter-sweet and conflicted case for a John McCain Presidency

Much has been made regarding John McCain’s now seemingly inevitable ascendency to the Republican nomination. Rush Limbaugh—famously or infamously—has been calling for a Republican snub of the apparent nominee on Election Day. Other radio hosts and notable, right-leaning pundits have joined the call.

Their frustration is plainly seen and understood. John McCain has—by many accounts—flirted with the idea of switching parties. Thinking back a few years it is not hard to imagine that he would have jumped had the Democrat offer been a bit sweeter. Mr. McCain now firmly calls himself a conservative, evidently forgetting that we can review his sponsored legislation and spotty voting record on the Web at our leisure. Most recently the “Snowy-haired Senior Senator from Arizona” tried to jam a truly horrible illegal immigration bill through the system—all the while hurling “racist” labels at all who dared criticize it. These are not exactly shining Reagan-esque credentials. But see—this is part of the problem , which I will get to in a minute.

Rush (et al) seems to believe that we should abandon John McCain at the altar and hope for Democrat victory in November because:

  • The economy—already on shaky ground—will be further hampered by the application of Liberal Dogma.
  • General governmental affairs and the military will suffer mightily under Liberal rule and this fact will be recognized by the people.
  • John McCain is NOT a Conservative and would therefore make many of the same mistakes as would either Hillary or Barak—so let the Democrats take the blame.
  • This will all set the stage for a triumphant return of a truly Reagan-esque Conservative candidate four years hence who will then sweep in and bring the country back into prosperity…and here is the real point…just like Ronald Reagan did after Jimmy Carter’s abysmal one-term stand.
Historical Rhyme
To my mind, this argument is flawed. As Mark Twain famously said, “History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.” Jimmy Carter was certainly elected in the wake of near universal discontent with Gerald Ford’s pardoning of Richard Nixon and the fallow state of the economy at the time (“Stagflation” had dragged on for a decade). President Carter—for all of his more charitable attributes—was, in most respects, a very poor President and leader in general. He was also a bit weak and uncharismatic. Ronald Reagan was truly a man of his time—right on economics (figuratively and literally), correct on Cold War conflicts, strong in character and personality, a solid leader…well, I could go on. His election marked a turning point for the country.

This Ain’t 1976
Today, our economy—though mildly imperiled—is many times more robust than it was in the late 1970’s. If we are destined for a Recession, most economists believe that it will be mild, and I tend to agree. Even if a Liberal Democrat is elected this time around it is likely the natural economic cycle will have ample opportunity to correct itself in four years time and position the incumbent as more hero than villain. Not that a Liberal would not do the economy harm, but Liberal policies take several years to manifest their growth-repressing inclinations.

Obama Has Never Been a Peanut Farmer
Further, the “Jimmy Carter” argument might have some standing if Hillary Clinton were the Democrat nominee. But this appears less and less likely the result. Hillary is no leader—she is an intimidator and controlling…well, let’s leave it at that. A Hillary Presidency would anger and frustrate almost as many Democrats as Republicans. But look at Barak Obama. He is polished, confident, well-spoken, carries almost no baggage that might hinder another candidate, and he can lead. He would lead towards Socialism and away from freedom—thus to our ultimate detriment—but he would lead well in those directions. An incumbent Barak Obama would be a formidable opponent in 2012. If Obama can keep his head about him and stay on track, I believe that he has the potential to professionally accomplish in office what the Democrat party had hoped to receive from Bill Clinton had Clinton been able to govern himself personally and professionally. This should make Conservatives lose sleep.

Give Me An “R”
Finally, we cannot gamble on the arrival of another Ronald Regan in four years. We are very fortunate to have had one of them in our lifetimes. To have a second is to bet against the house. We will have good men to be certain—our Conservative team is chock-full of good and intelligent men. But the too-soon sainted Ronald Reagan will be judged by history as one of the top four or five Presidents of the first quarter millennia of American History. Indeed, most lists already rank him rather high. The gap between “greatnesses” looks to be 40 to 50 years at a pop. We are not yet due for another. To expect any candidate to attain “Reagan-esqe” stature is to be unfair to that man.

With Jaw Clenched and Nose Held
John McCain is not my candidate. I feel personally (politically and philosophically) betrayed by him on several fronts and if he is elected we will have to keep an eye on him at all times (our RIGHT eye) to make sure that he does not create a legacy for himself that we would have to clean up later (amnesty, etc.). To his credit, he has remained stoically “correct” on completing the mission in Iraq and Afghanistan, putting to the side all those who claim that he is “totally and completely” off the track.

To many, John McCain veritably defines the term “RINO” (Republican In Name Only) and I largely agree. But a R(h)INO trumps a Rabid Donkey when there are no Elephants in the room (or Bull-Moose, for that matter). I am not saying that we, as a philosophically-bound group, should grow accustomed to “settling.” Rather, I suggest that we should do a better job of finding and funding our candidates and that we will do better in the long run if we make “Reagan-ism” an objective instead of an entry-level qualification for our support.

Barring a shocking revelation or bizarre turn at the convention, I will cast my vote for John McCain on Election Day—but I may not feel good about it in the morning.

Be well,


Sunday, January 27, 2008

George Soros – Financially Right, Reflexively Wrong in Davos
…and everywhere else for that matter

George Soros is an interesting man. He has made billions of dollars for himself in the capital markets of the United States and around the world. He himself credits much of this success to an investment philosophy called Reflexivity. Long story short—his Reflexivity approach dictates that the value or worth of any market is determined by the person or group that is doing the looking and, in fact, the market has no value at all until it is determined by the “looker.” Basically, it means that we bring biases to the table and that those biases amplify market fluctuations. This approach is based upon a European philosopher named Popper and shares several theoretical principles in common with Quantum Physics. Heady stuff indeed—but not a bad approach for a man who cut his teeth in the arbitrage cellars where exploiting perceived value discrepancies is the order of the day.

His biography includes some other notable entries including his support for the Polish Solidarity Movement (a good thing) and advocacy for the Revolution of the Roses in the country of Georgia (also pretty good) along with his successful and eponymously-named Soros Funds.

More recently, Mr. Soros has become notable for his unabashed financial support for Liberal causes, the Democrat party in general, and for various “we are the world” and “America is not very special” type causes. He is quite the celebrity in the halls of Davos.*

Last week Mr. Soros took the opportunity to pontificate in the Financial Times regarding the credit, stock market, and housing corrections taking now full shape. Fair enough. But in the mind of George Soros we are suffering not from a traditional series of market corrections. Rather, we are in the middle of “the worst market crisis in 60 years” and the “…relative decline of the US…” as an economic power. Hmmmm….

Certainly I do not wear rose-colored glasses—it is my firm opinion that the United States is to spend a little market-cycle time in the economic woodshed receiving our just due. And I have no doubt that China—with its 1.2 billion souls and pseudo-capitalist structure—will become an economic powerhouse. But the “end of the American era” was predicted to happen in the 60’s, all throughout the 70’s (stagflation), during the market crash of the late 80’s, during the pop of the Tech Bubble in 2000 and the ensuing post-911 recession, and at every point of currency fluctuation over the last century.

America left a decades-long period of raising interest rates and entered a decades-long period of declining interest rates in the early 1980’s (secular trend). By all accounts we are entering a long-term raising trend once again. This requires adjustment. Such transitions always do and always will. America’s dominance may one day end—but a few years of more difficult times will not be a factor when it does.

I think that Mr. Soros misses another key point. It is a reasonable suggestion that the rest of the world has not improved economically in spite of America, but because of it. China would likely be a nation of one billion starving peasants had it not adapted some of the capitalist structures we designed and then built products that we want to buy. Europe would likely be a fascist serfdom of economic repression without our military intervention, Truman-doctrine economic aid, the continuing blanket of our protection during the cold war, and current (mostly friendly) competition in the marketplace. The rest of the world is mostly in ascendency, yes; but America had a part in that and we will continue to do so. John F. Kennedy once famously said that “A rising tide lifts all boats.” The other ships of state would be wise not to curse that tide.

George Soros is no doubt a very bright man who has made his mark in the world. These days, however, his Liberal One-World’er bent is distorting the way he is looking at America. To put this in his own terms, Mr. Soros’ valuation of the US is deeply affected by his incumbent biases which feed on themselves and cause him to short-sell America’s place in the world. He will understand if the rest of us look beyond his biases and invest in the underlying strength.

Be well,

* Davos is the traditional location of the World Economic Forum:

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Rage, Thought I

"Rage, thought I to give to thee
Escaping when released by me
For who am I, that rage should I
Thus held within, a cage gone by

So vengence then, did I pursue
To lie within that cage for two
Taking back, what now I lack
Re-gift the favor of your attack

One way makes a slave of me
The other of both I and thee
Left only is that I forgive
So as a slave, I shall not live"

It is worth mentioning that the concepts behind this piece are self-focused--meaning that they apply when we seek our own satisfaction upon personal harm. He who seeks justice on behalf of others might justly be governed by concomitant philosophy.

Be well,

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Iraq War a “Clean Shoot,” and History Will Be The Judge

Recently, a regular contributor to, Frosty Wooldridge, rehashed a bunch of old rhetoric regarding the Iraq conflict ( ). Mr. Wooldridge’s comments are rather easy to sum up: “Bush lied and people died.” Certainly he will find a clutch of readers who will eagerly agree with those sentiments—no matter how threadbare they have become. It’s not the first time ‘Ol Frosty has pitched in this way, and not likely the last. Go get ‘em Frosty. But I am sure that his stated dedication to Constitutional principles will compel him to allow a bit of reasoned decent.

Picture, If You Will
Picture, if you will, a darkened alley late at night in the most gang and crime ridden part of town. This night has been especially violent with innocent citizens and police officers mowed down by the senseless violence haunting the area. You are a cop on patrol and come upon a known felon in that darkened alley. He has a long rap sheet, has dodged prosecution on a series of heinous crimes, and has even taken a shot at you once or twice in the past. He is a known fellow gang member of another criminal who, just earlier today, committed a mass murder—and now he is crouching behind a dumpster in a darkened alley on your beat.

You pull over your squad car and call out to this man. He rises from his hiding space—his hands firmly stuffed in his pockets and talking tough. You draw your service weapon and order the man to show his hands—he does not. You call out to him, “show your hands and get on the ground or I’ll shoot.” Your orders are ignored and somewhere in the next few moments of shouting and furtive gestures—within the context of the suspicious bulge in his pocket, the dangerous neighborhood, and the reputation of the man who opposes you—an invisible line is crossed and you fire your weapon.

Which brings us to a few questions
If we are to judge the character and professionalism of this officer:

  • Does it matter whether or not the suspect had an actual weapon at that time?
  • What if he had a weapon that was jammed or broken—whether he knew it was broken or not?
  • What if it was a toy weapon?
  • What if he had a pocket full of bullets and no gun? Or a gun with no bullets?
  • What if he had nothing but a pocket comb and a bit of loose change?
  • What if….

The Investigation
The Internal Affairs Department will undoubtedly investigate this shooting and everything will be reviewed in the glaring morning light that filters though the blinds of third-story legal offices as a fresh cup of coffee leaves occasional brown rings on the dog-eared pages of official reports. But one hopes that—after the posturing, positioning, and appeals have dogged the system through the process—only one determination will come from the juries and peer reviews. This was a “clean shoot."

Can one imagine a darker or more violent alley than the Middle East or a homicidal sociopath more unpredictable than Saddam?

There are those who will attempt to parse this analogy to suit their own opinions, but an honest reading must at least give pause to partisan blanket statements, character assaults, and ad-hominem accusations. The fullness of history shall be the jury and final review of our seemingly graceless times and all of us who lived in them.

Be well,

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Where, Oh Where Has Good Old Huck Been
For the Last Two Months?

Glad that you asked....I've been working my literary and literal tail off, that's what!

Holy mackerel, but I have been busy. Just before the holidays we had tons of deliverable items at the office leading up to the end of the year and I had research baked up so I must have read nearly a million words over that 60-day period. We are still busy, but I should have time to post now and again because things are on a more even keel.

And just as I was about to post selections from my annual Christmas message to this little section of cyberspace, my PC saw fit to dampen the Holiday spirit by granting me the "blue screen of death" (yes, I am a Windows user) and thus freezing me out of the online universe until I gained access once again through my company PC and the new Sprint wireless broadband service (I like it--fast and stable).

For a brief time I considered returning to stone and chisel to carve out my rambling missives. At least if that method "crashed" I would have a pile of rubble to show for it (and likely a broken foot). There is something very depressing about having written a bit of content and then--when your technology does not work--it's just not there at all. I need a Prozac or something.

My PC holds all of my images and articles in process (for this blog and the news sites I regularly contribute to) so until that is finally repaired, there may be a few additional gaps in content production. These are all of my excuses and I am sticking to them.

On from here.

I promise that I will post again soon. Until then, be well,