Hillary’s integrity chasm

A Heapin' Plate of Conservative Politics & Religion

By Tom Quiner

Integrity is the foundational virtue of leadership.

Liberals get it. They concocted an integrity gap in an attempt to destroy George W. Bush’s presidency. You recall their false mantra:

“Bush lied and people died.”

They knew that once people stop trusting the president, his/her ability to lead is compromised. Their discredited narrative nonetheless helped them regain control of Congress as enough voters bought into the Left’s slur of a decent man to pull the “D” lever.

Integrity matters.

Hillary Clinton isn’t just afflicted with an integrity gap, she has succumbed to an integrity chasm. It is easy for the public to get numbed to her unyielding pursuit of deceit.

It is non-stop.

We expect it from her.

And yet is poison. It is imperative for the media and the blogosphere to keep her dishonesty gene in front of potential voters. But we certainly can’t count on the mainstream…

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Your health insurance premiums are about to skyrocket

The New York Times gets it?

A Heapin' Plate of Conservative Politics & Religion

By Tom Quiner

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Even the New York Times admits it. Your health insurance is going to get a lot more expensive.

When America’s most vocal media champion for socialized medicine runs the story on their front page, well, you know it’s bad. Here’s their reporting:

 Health insurance companies around the country are seeking rate increases of 20 percent to 40 percent or more, saying their new customers under the Affordable Care Act turned out to be sicker than expected.

Federal officials say they are determined to see that the requests are scaled back. Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans — market leaders in many states — are seeking rate increases that average 23 percent in Illinois, 25 percent in North Carolina, 31 percent in Oklahoma, 36 percent in Tennessee and 54 percent in Minnesota, according to documents posted online by the federal government and state insurance commissioners and interviews with insurance…

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San Francisco, open your Golden Gate

Having been born in San Francisco I have a special affinity for the town that only a native can have. Now that affinity has turned to ashes in my mouth and I’m about to choke on it.

When I was born the town was run by the Republicans, and had been for most of the century. That didn’t matter all that much because The City was always Bohemian at it’s core and a workingman’s town. In fact, the city looked like the photo to the right in 1958, and it was taken probably 500 feet from my boyhood home.That was my view on a clear day, looking straight down Market Street. I never knew how lucky I was, nor how terribly wrong it could all go.

The City danced to a different drummer back then, it always had even back to the Gold Rush days. All were welcome in San Francisco… well, except maybe not the blacks, but that’s a different story. There was a bustling port and downtown was the West Coast hub of finance and industry . Bank of America and Wells Fargo began here. Chevron, Bechtel, Swinerton Construction, the Pacific Stock Exchange. Southern Pacific Railroad built their massive corporate headquarters at #1 Market Street. That building still stands, called today “Landmark at One Market”. The company I work for has offices there.

There was always a Castro, it’s at the bottom center of that photo in fact.  I can remember my parents and their friends talking about it and some of “the people” who lived there who helped make San Francisco a more unique place to live. As I grew there was the beat generation, the hippies, the Summer of Love, an amazing outpouring of music and artistry that made San Francisco rock.  There were protests of conscience that made it roll. There were crimes of self styled revolution committed by spoiled white kids and poor blacks who’d fallen under the spell of Chairman Mao that shook The City to it’s core. Over time tourism took root and today millions of people visit San Francisco every year pumping billions of dollars into the local economy and city coffers. Then there was Multimedia Gulch south of Market as animation houses and software firms catering to them sprang up. Now is the high tech revolution as giants like Salesforce.com, Twitter and hundreds more minor players have come to call The City their home and begin to reshape it in their own image.

But through it all, there was always San Francisco. Even though I had moved away I always longed to go back. But I don’t any longer.

Starting in the 1960’s San Francisco began to tilt to the far left politically. It started out well enough with tough minded, old school, union backed Democrats slowly taking charge from the Republican establishment. As the old guard aged a new guard, made up largely of younger eastern and middle western radical leftists who came west, took over. They brought with them words like tolerance, political correctness and diversity. And it wasn’t long before a lot of people who thought and voted the same way they did had come to town. The power base became solidified and the politics of European style social democracy took root and, ultimately, took over. San Francisco became, in many ways, an old fashioned machine city, run with an iron political fist by one political party largely for it’s own benefit. And because the political power in California has almost always come from the San Francisco Bay Area that social democracy way of doing things has pervaded the state capitol and our state’s Congressional delegation. Our governor, lieutenant governor, our US senators and the always lovely and charming Rep. Nancy Pelosi are all products of the San Francisco machine. Go figure, right?

In an effort to be tolerant, welcoming and inclusive “The City that knows how” became “The City where anything goes”. The gay community suffered a nearly genocidal epidemic in the 70’s and 80’s furthered, in some part, by their own unwillingness to step back from that which was killing them. The homeless, drawn by a plethora of free (to them) social services invaded much of downtown leading to the kinds of street scenes below. Those scenes are everyday life in San Francisco, as are the constant smell of urine and feces left in doorways, on sidewalks and in public areas by those who choose to not take advantage of government shelters and live on the streets. Efforts to try, humanely and otherwise, to bring the problem under control are always met with protest, anger and resentment from “homeless advocates” who “respresent” the “homeless community”. More like perpetuating a permanent victim class to enrich themselves on grants and donations, if you ask me.

In 1989 a well meaning Board of Supervisors under then Mayor Art Agnos, who had himself at one time been a victim of an attempted murder by terrorists in the guise of black revolution, declared San Francisco to be a sanctuary city. While on face a noble idea it was always considered something of a dilettante play without much real effect.

Wind the clock forward to 2007 and enter this guy, then San Francisco Mayor and now Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom. Well remembered for forcing the gay marriage issue into the public consciousness here in California, he should also be remembered for signing Executive Order 07-01 which put teeth in The City’s sanctuary policy specifically with respect to illegal immigrants. It commands all city departments and officials to not cooperate with federal authorities regarding immigration issues. His action was in response to raids conducted by federal immigration agents within San Francisco which were, of course, immediately denounced by “immigrant advocates”.  All things considered, advocacy seems to be on thing The City is never short of. Unfortunately, and like most social democracy policies, the law of unintended consequences has brought it’s hand into the game.

San Francisco quickly became known, along with several other large cities up and down the coast, as somewhere that illegal immigrants… and particularly criminal illegal immigrants, could live largely without fear of La Migra. Illegal immigrants who committed crimes were handled like just everyone else. No calls to Immigration and Customs Enforcement. In some cases illegal immigrant juvenile offenders were warehoused from San Francisco out to other counties to keep them off the feds radar. Such was the story of MS-13 gang member Edwin Ramos who murdered Tony Bologna and his two sons in 2008 before the ink on Mayor Newsom’s order was barely dry.

Ramos didn’t intend to shoot down the Bologna family in the street like he did. He thought they were members of a rival gang, who he did intend to kill but what’s that? Oh well, I guess. Never mind that he had a juvenile record two yards long. So what that he already had one gang murder under his belt? He needed sanctuary, damnit!!! Mayor Newsom’s response was to amend his order to allow juvenile immigrant felons to be brought to federal attention. For his part Ramos got a 183 years to life prison sentence because then District Attorney, now Attorney General and preparing to run for US Senate, Kamala Harris refused to pursue a death penalty because she is morally opposed to capital punishment.

But after the Bologna murders began to fade from local consciousness things got pretty much back to where they were before under the Newsom order and the sanctuary ordinance. Particularly after Governor Jerry Brown signed the Trust Act in 2013 which gave California cities with sanctuary policies more leeway under state law to give the feds the finger.Such is the world of social democracy, after all… giving the finger to whomever or whatever it is that is found disagreeable to the agenda or to the permanent victim class.

So let’s move forward again to just a few days ago. A sunny afternoon in July along what was once San Francisco’s industrial waterfront but has become a mecca for locals, tourists, the homeless and the odd criminal illegal immigrant or two.  It was at what is still called Pier 14, a public promenade  that juts out into San Francisco Bay just north of the Bay Bridge.

We still don’t know fully what happened but the facts of the matter seem plain. Kate Steinlee; a bright and beautiful 32 year old Bay Area resident  was walking with her father when she was shot without warning. She died a short time later while police were finding and arresting her killer. That turned out to be Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, a criminal immigrant originally from Mexico, with seven felony convictions in the United States and five prior deportations. At the time of the shooting he had been released from jail after a drug charge was dismissed. Even though immigration authorities had placed a detainer on him, and had requested the San Francisco Sheriff’s Department notify them when he was to be released so they could take simply take custody of him. That call was never made as it is the policy of the sheriff to not honor any immigration detainer requests.

Now that the poop is in the fan the engine that is the government we so richly deserve has swung into high gear. The sheriff says his hands are tied by the city’s sanctuary policy. The mayor’s office says the sheriff has discretion under the policy and that the mayor himself is “concerned”. DHS ICE says they didn’t want the guy held for them, they just wanted a phone call when he was going to be released, eh? The federal Bureau of Prisons shuffled him off to the sheriff to stand trial on a drug charge that wound up getting dismissed, rather than notify DHS ICE that he guy was good to go for deportation. The White House says it’s all the Republican’s fault and questions about procedure should be directed to DHS, thank you very much.  At the end of the day all I could think of was the classic Thomas Nast cartoon of New York’s infamous Tammany machine that pretty much ran things there for decades.

Meanwhile, Mr. Lopez-Sanchez will not face a death penalty beef because the current San Francisco DA, former police chief George Gascon, is morally opposed to it just like his predecessor Ms. Harris is. So in the end this guy will get life, which means he’ll be eligible to get out in seven years. And when he does parole the odds are pretty good that no one will pick up the phone and call the feds. 

Think about that for a minute and try not to throw up in your mouth.

Know Your Role

One of the catch phrases of the in ring persona of wrestler / actor Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is the title of today’s piece. There is no small amount of irony in it as relates to this topic.

I’ve been watching, with some interest and not a small amount of amusement, the fallout from yesterday’s shootout across a restaurant parking lot in Waco, Texas. The interest is in part professional and in part because everyone enjoys watching a train wreck. The amusement part is coming from some of the various responses in media, social and traditional, to the incident.

Some of what has come out of Waco P.D.’s designated spokesman has been tart, to say the least. That there was so large a law enforcement contingent, including SWAT, waiting at the location for the various club members to show up leads me to guess that they had good intelligence that there was a strong possibility of some type of action. Clearly it appears there was a hint that this was more than the average friendly get together of motorcycle clubs at a restaurant, which itself seems to be trying really hard to be a titty bar but without the titties on full display and which has been catering to the motorcycle clubs.

What is more amusing is the response that is chattering across social media. Everything from “they had it coming” to “motorcycle clubs are misunderstood” to “don’t believe the media or the cops”. I suppose it’s inevitable that such a wide range of replies would come after such a traumatic and dynamic event. The primal need to be either a troll or a fluffer on every issue that comes down the pike is what really drives the internet, after all.

I even got into a discussion on line over night with an apologist who tried to convince me that all motorcycle clubs are not criminal street gangs. Well, I say, of course not all clubs are criminal street gangs. But, the self identified 1% motorcycle clubs pretty much are criminal street gangs. One major club, the Bandidos, and two minor clubs, the Cossacks and Scimitars, were at the center of yesterday’s fracas. It’s also not like this is the first time this sort of thing has played out in a public place. Astute readers will recall the infamous dustup inside Harrah’s casino during the 2002 Laughlin River Run. Mongols, Vagos and Hells Angels have been killing each other pretty regularly over the past few years up and down California and Nevada. The Hells Angels also fought a long war with the Bandidos back in the day.

Somehow I suspect none of them were fighting over who had the coolest scooter.

But also caught in the middle of the Waco deal were, apparently, members of legit clubs which probably aren’t active criminal enterprises and which had no dog in the hunt for blood. I see them often… working stiffs and professional people, who like to get dressed up in leathers, put a patch on their back, climb aboard their pimped out Harley and thunder off into the make believe world of Billy Bad Ass on the weekends. These are otherwise decent sorts who climb aboard a big bore bike and turn into some kind of an asshole trying to convince the world they are tough bikers. Not the 1%, but maybe the wannabe 1.5%.

Many years ago I ran across a known member of one of the Crips sets on a car stop. He was in our neck of the woods recruiting, it turns out, and had a bunch of prospects riding around with him. He knew the drill and we transacted our business in the manner to which he was accustomed. His prospective homeys, on the other hand, had no clue about how business was done and they didn’t seem to like it much. My lesson for them is the same as I would tell the weekend warrior tough guys on their Harleys now.

If you’re going to play the part, you better be prepared to get treated like the part. And if you want to hang around with a bunch of guys who would kill you just about as fast as they would break wind, you better be prepared for the consequences when shit gets real like it did in Waco yesterday.  Because when the shooting starts, no one is going to have time to pick and choose their targets.

After all, everyone remembers the St. Valentine’s Day massacre in 1929 Chicago, right? Of the seven men gunned down in that garage only five were actual gangsters. Of the other two victims, one was the shop’s mechanic and the other was a business man who ran a couple of legitimate businesses on behalf of the gang. That businessman, Albert Weinshank, liked to dress and act like a gangster while he was anything but one. He and the mechanic died simply because they were there. That is, at the end of the day, how the real bad guys work. If you’re in their way, you’re going down. Just business.

So for all you weekend warriors who want go out and play tough guy biker, take a page from The Rock.

Memories and Processes

Over the past year or more there has been an ongoing stream of negative news about law enforcement and the use of force by law enforcement officers in the United States.

Fed by the insatiable need of the 24 hour news cycle for content and controversy, we’ve had to wade through story after story of unlawful and improper uses of force by law enforcement. With cooler heads, thorough investigation and honest reporting we’ve learned that the overwhelming majority of those uses of force were justified. We’ve also learned that in those cases where the use of force is not justified the officers involved are being punished and, in many cases, prosecuted In short, the process works…. if we allow it to.

In 1962 President John Kennedy signed a proclamation declaring May 15th as Peace Officers Memorial Day and the week in which that date falls as Police Week. Today thousands of active, former and retired law enforcement officers will gather at the Peace Officers Memorial in Washington DC, and at similar memorials all around the country to honor those of our brothers and sisters who have fallen in the line of duty. I’ve been to the memorials in both my state’s and nation’s capitols. They are both sad and joyful, depressing and uplifting. The words inscribed on the national memorial perhaps sum it up best.

“It is not how these officers died that made them heroes. It is how they lived.”

Twenty years ago on an April afternoon in Northern California a murder was committed. The bad blood between two rival families on a rural Indian reservation exploded into violence with a shooting on the street in the reservations central town. The suspect was eventually captured but that evening he was still in the wind. There were other tribal members who set out for revenge, or who stood up to defend their families. The two resident sheriff’s deputies assigned to the community had their hands full and requested help. Within hours there were many more deputies spread out around the reservation looking for the suspect and trying to ensure that there would not be further bloodshed in revenge for the earlier killing.

In the late night hours two deputies had stationed themselves on a ridge monitoring a dirt road that was used by many in the community. They were approached by two men carrying rifles. There was an exchange of gunfire, one of the armed men fell dead. One of the deputies approached the downed man to check his condition and then more shots erupted from the brush followed by shots from the deputy’s partner still at their patrol car. The deputy was hit in the head. He died instantly on that lonely dirt road, alongside the man he and his partner had themselves killed in self defense just seconds before.

  This is the deputy who was killed that night. His name was George R. Davis, but a lot of people knew him as Bob. That photo is of him when he was in the Navy, prior to his law enforcement career, when he was properly known as GMGSN Davis and the badge on his chest was the trident worn by our navy’s SEALs.

These days the men who serve in special operations are most often known simply as “operators”. Bob was an operator before anyone knew that the word stood for anything other than a lady on the phone who helped you make calls. He put in a twenty plus year career, starting out in the early days of Vietnam. He’d been everywhere, done everything, and had the shirts to prove it. Once he retired from the Navy he figured to give police work a try. In the end that career choice cost him his life.

When the man who killed Bob was captured many months later he told a story that was, not surprisingly, far different from the account of the surviving deputy of that night. He admitted he was there, and admitted he had fired shots but didn’t know at whom he was shooting. He believed, he said, that he and his dead companion were being ambushed by rival tribe members. In the end, over four years later, there was enough reasonable doubt in the mind of the jury about what happened that night that they could not convict. While I disagree with the jury’s verdict as much now as I did then, I accept it. No person can be convicted of a crime unless they’re proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

I tell this story because I knew Bob, we were in the academy together. He was a remarkable human being and a warrior in the truest sense of the word. Quiet but clearly made of tempered steel, I wish I could have known him longer. The lunches we spent and the world wisdom he freely shared with a much younger man intensely interested in knowing the back story of history and the world are still something I carry with me.

For every bad cop out there, there are thousands like Bob. Doing their job the right way, giving back to their communities every day, putting their lives in danger when they have to. So my ask, on this 2015 Police Memorial Day, is the next time you see an inflammatory story about how a cop did something or someone wrong remember that there are always at least two sides to the story and that the process works in the end, if we let it.

What are we thinking?

I am almost always either amused or confused by the “Trending Now” boxes on various sites. They are a measure in the moment of what it is that we as a society think is important. More often than not it’s an interesting window on just what a stupid and self obsessed culture we’ve become.

Do I really care what Jay-Z is doing? Does it matter that Bruce Jenner thinks life will be better without the plumbing he was born with? Why is who gets eliminated on Dancing With the Stars so important that we leave it to faceless bureaucrats and feckless politicians to drive a national dialog on police use of force?

I’m convinced that this guy was right…..

In places deep down inside that we don’t talk about at parties, we can’t handle the truth.  We go about our days and nights doing everything we can to distance ourselves from reality. It’s so pervasive I suspect we might as well refer to it as the American Way.

We bitch about how government is screwing us, yet we don’t vote out those who are in charge of the screwing. We see rogue nations around the world killing, torturing and maiming in the name of their god and are so horrified we respond by bombing them with remotely piloted vehicles.  We see evil in our midst and, when that evil acts out, we seek to punish ourselves with more laws and regulations that evil people won’t follow anyway.

We let this happen to ourselves because we were too busy caring about unimportant crap involving people who are famous for nothing more than being famous.  And now it’s so far gone that it’s easier to escape into the cocoon of fantasy land, mocking the privileged and their foibles, while our society continues to burn around us.

Nero had nothing on us.

So here we are….

A long time ago, in a career far, far away I wrote and self published a small newsletter titled The View From Out West. It was thoroughly researched and well written and mostly about politics and current events. It was trenchant and up to the minute,  so much so that almost no one read it.

When I first got myself onto the internet, a story unto itself, I created web sites and posted my thoughts to those from time to time, but again I reached a limited audience. Then I found discussion boards; some good, some bad. I’ve even been a moderator at a few. Some of the boards that were very good turned very bad while others that were very bad still are. I’ve made some good friends though in the discussion board world, they know who they are and I am glad I’ve known them. But, over time, I’ve found that those boards are often the stomping ground of trolls, keyboard commandos and people who would just rather argue violently, with as much invective as possible, than discuss issues and events like rational adults.

I find now that, having spent more of my free time than I should have the past twenty years or so in a search for knowledge and the free exchange of ideas, that there are still places where I can just be me and hopefully make a cogent point or two along the way. This seems like it could be one

So here we are. I’m going to express what’s on my mind. I hope that what I write will make you laugh when its funny, make you cry when it hurts and make you think.