Saturday, October 14, 2006


Mel Gibson is now giving interviews to explain the reasons for his anti-Semitic tirade on July 28, 2006, when he was arrested for drunk driving. Unlike his previous statements, which were press releases by his publicists, the latest ones represent his personal comments during one-on-one interviews.

Gibson now blames the tirade on the ramblings of a drunk. Then he states that the anti-Semitic portion of his outburst resulted from his resentment over the attacks by Jews against his film, THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST. He goes on to explain that he blamed Jews for all the wars in the world because of Israel's war with Hezbollah, which was taking place at the time of his arrest.

What a bunch of hogwash! Gibson would be better off if he continued to let his publicists do the talking for him. The interviews are further proof that he is in denial of his deep-rooted anti-Semitism. The ramblings of a drunk are usually the expressions of true feelings, feelings that are left unsaid during periods of sobriety.

Did he resent the attacks against his film? Perhaps, to some degree. But, I can imagine that in his heart he got down on his knees to thank those Jewish community leaders for their outright stupidity in attacking the film well before it was released in theaters. Interest in THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST was increased a hundred fold by the pre-release attacks which claimed the film was anti-Semitic. No amount of money could have bought the kind of publicity generated by these attacks.

There is absolutely no logical way one can justify the belief that Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world because of Israel's war with Hezbollah. That was only one war, and a small one at that. An educated guess leads me to conclude that Gibson must believe the anti-Semitic myth that Jews control the world. If that was true, it would be logical to believe that all wars are started by Jews.

Gibson's problem is that he was raised in an anti-Semitic family. His father claims the holocaust was a hoax and he has made a number of anti-Semitic remarks in public. One can only imagine what kind of hatred for Jews was discussed in the Gibson home during Mel's formative years. Any way you cut it, in his heart Mel Gibson is still an anti-Semite, and no amount of rationalizing can cover up his hatred of Jews.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006


FLAGS OF OUR FATHERS, a movie directed by multi-talented Clint Eastwood, will open soon at a theater near you. Eastwood, a very patriotic American, made this movie to pay tribute to the U.S. Marines and Navy corpsmen who fought, died and were wounded in the Battle of Iwo Jima during World War II. No chapter in our history ever made us any prouder. Our victory came at a great cost in lives and wounded. I personally lost two friends on Iwo Jima, both volunteers, one having been the quarterback of my high school football team.

Since the fight for Iwo Jima occurred in 1945, Flags of Our Grandfathers might have been a more appropriate title. Because we are now at war in Iraq, I want to compare one battle (Iwo Jima) with one war (Iraq). The battle for Iwo Jima, a small Pacific island defended by some 22,000 Japanese soldiers, lasted 35 days, starting on February 19,1945 and ending on March 25, 1945. Our war against Iraq started on March 19, 2003 and continues unabated, having lasted 43 months thus far.

During those 35 days in the battle for Iwo Jima, 6, 821 Americans were killed and 19,217 were wounded. (Only 1,083 Japanese soldiers survived the fierce fighting. Eastwood is also releasing a companion feature, LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA, which pays tribute to that island's Japanese defenders.) As of October 9, 2006, during the 43 months in Iraq, we have suffered 2,239 combat deaths and 20,468 have been wounded. So, in one month, more than three times as many Americans were killed in combat on Iwo Jima than have been killed during 43 months in Iraq.

The majority of Americans are opposed to the war in Iraq for one reason and one reason only - the death toll among our troops. The loss of any soldier's life is a tragedy to his family, friends, and to our nation. And unfortunately, many of the wounded will be physically handicapped for the rest of their lives.

There are some notable differences between the battle for Iwo Jima and the war in Iraq. Japan attacked us in World War II, while we attacked Iraq. There were many volunteers, myself included, but most of our troops in WWII were draftees. Today, our troops are all volunteers.

It does not make any difference why our troops have volunteered to serve in the military. The wailing and whining over the loss of lives in Iraq totally disregards the fact that soldiers are trained to fight wars and may be called on to kill and be killed. If they only signed up to obtain educational benefits and suddenly found themselves engaged in an unpopular war, that's just tough shit! They sure as hell did not join the Peace Corps when they enlisted.

It is my opinion that our inability to cope with combat casualties is the result of changing life styles between WWII and the war in Iraq. At the start of WWII, we had just come out of a depression. Life was hard. Since WWII, many of us have prospered. Modern conveniences and comfort have made life much easier for all of us. Air conditioning, home appliances, computers and other electronics, medications, riding mowers and electric golf carts, and other advances in technology, science and medicine have led us to lose our toughness. We have become a nation of softies and whiners with an expectation of instant gratification.

I hope that FLAGS OF OUR FATHERS will cause us to reflect on the great loss of American lives in one battle, Iwo Jima, as compared to the relatively small loss of lives in Iraq. While we may have been misled into invading Iraq, and despite the tragic loss in lives, we must keep fighting until our objectives are achieved. Withdrawal short of victory will be seen as a defeat, and that will embolden our enemies throughout the world.

When our young men and women volunteered for military service, they volunteered to go to war, even though we were at peace at the time. When more than three times as many of our troops were killed on Iwo Jima in just one month than have been killed in the 43 months of Iraq, it sickens me that most Americans are unable to stomach the casualties of war and want us to get out of Iraq now.

Monday, October 09, 2006


Having jusst covered a dark side of the legal profession, the recusal of a good judge, it seems only fair to look at a humerous side in the trials and tribulations of lawyering.

HE DIDN'T KNOW WHAT HE WAS DOING. A preliminary hearing was held in a California court on a Possession of Marijuana for Sales case. Evidence obtained during the execution of a search warrant led to the charges against the defendant. His attorney presented several motions for various reasons to get the search warrant quashed. Each time the judge ruled against the motions. Finally, out of frustration, the attorney slammed his case file on the table and exclaimed, "Well, if you want to know the truth, your honor, the judge who approved the affidavit for this search warrant, just plain didn't know what he was doing." Immediately, the judge's bald head turned purple, he banged his gavel for a short recess, and he ordered the defense counsel into his chamber. Spectators in the courtroom heard a lot of shouting drifting through the door to the judge's chamber. A visibly shaken attorney came out of the chamber and was overheard telling his client, "Shit, I didn't know he was the one who approved that affidavit."

DON'T PUT YOUR CLIENT ON THE STAND. Some undercover officers were following a couple of known burglars. During the noon hour, they observed them enter a supermarket in Corona, California and emerge, carrying a case of cigarettes. After placing the case in their car, they reentered the store only to emerge with another case of cigarettes. After they placed the second case in the car, they were arrested. Because they had reentered the building to steal another case of cigarettes, they were charged with burglary, rather than with theft. During the trial, one of the defendants took the witness stand. Under direct examination by his attorney, the defendant insisted that they did not steal anything from the supermarket in Corona. His attorney then asked, "Well, how do you explain the two cigarette cases in your car?" The defendant replied, "We stole them from a store in Ontario." The attorney rocked back in his chair and slapped himself on the head with both hands. It took the jury less than 10 minutes to find both defendants guilty.

THAT'S A LIE. A drug dealer was on trial for selling heroin. The police had made their case by using an informant, a heroin addict, to make the buy. They gave him money to buy 10 papers of heroin, promising that he could keep three papers for himself. They observed him entering the defendant's house to make the buy. During the trial, the lead narcotic officer in the case testified that immediately after the buy, he retrieved seven papers of heroin from the informant outside the defendant's house. At that point, the defendant got pissed off, nudged his attorney, and was overheard to exclaim, "That's a lie. It was 10." Another quick guilty verdict.

Sunday, October 08, 2006


Despite the war on drugs, a substantial number of Americans continue to consume marijuana, cocaine, heroin, and other drugs prohibited by law. Before the Vietnam War, the mere possession of these illicit substances constituted a felony in most jurisdictions. At the time, most drug users were poor blacks and latinos, minorities which received little if any sympathy from the rest of society. Harsh punishment was the popular order of the day.

When the sons and daughters of middle and upper class society, the core of the anti-war movement, became heavily involved in the use of illicit drugs, attitudes about the punishment of drug offenders rapidly changed. Society did not want its college kids to suffer a felony record which would prevent them from beoming doctors, lawyers, and other licensed professionals. Accordingly, drug offense penalties in most jurisdictions were reduced, a change which also benefitted blacks and latinos, the groups that mainstream America did not give a shit about.

One can argue until the cow jumps over the moon about whether or not punishment of drug offenders acts as a deterrent. One thing is for certain - the use and sales of illicit drugs exploded once drug offense penalties were reduced. And, what about those bright college kids who society wanted to protect from career ending sentencing? Among other achievements, they developed new exotic "recreational" drugs, as well as a home grown variety of pot, which became one of the the most potent types of marijuana in the world.

Back in the early '60s, Japan was overwhelmed by an out-of-control amphetamine addiction epedemic. Japan enacted certain and swift punishment legislation to bring this problem under control. Of those tried for drug offenses, 95 percent were convicted. Those convicted were sentenced either to prison or to confinement in a drug rehabilitation facility. The Japanese drug rehabilitation facilities in no way resemble the plush facilities found in the United States. The only difference between Japanese prisons and drug rehabilitation facilities is that the latter provided every inmate with a drug treatment program, while the prisons offered no special programs for drug offenders. In just a few years, Japan was able to bring a runaway problem under control.

I have always advocated that all drug users, without exception, should serve some time in jail. The amount of time to be served would depend on the type of drug used and on the drug offense history of the user. For instance, a first-time marijuana user would have to serve 30 days in jail. A second conviction would require a 60-90 day stay in jail, while a third conviction would require a sentence of at least one year in jail. Whether its 30 days, 60-90 days, or one year, there would be no time off for good behavior. If that means someone will be prevented from becoming a doctor or lawyer, that's just tough shit. Those who choose to break the law must be made to learn that there are consequences for wrongdoing.

There is a judge in Houston who agrees with me that all drug offenders should spend some time in jail. And, how did I find out about him? It was through a story in the Houston Chronicle. A 17-year old high school student's case for possession of marijuana and cocaine was assigned to the court of District Judge Brian Rains. The offender was represented by Dick DeGuerin, one of the best and most expensive attorneys in the Southwest.

DeGuerin moved that Judge Rains be recused from the case because by his refusal to grant probation or deferred adjudication, he has an "inflexible and arbitrary rule" requiring that offenders convicted of possession spend some time in jail. When the District Attorney's office agreed, an administrative judge removed Judge Rains from the case. DeGuerin's client, if convicted for possession of both marijuana and cocaine, deserved at least one year of jail time. Predictions are that this recusal will open the floodgates for similar motions in future cases before Judge Rains.

Judge Rains reminds me of a former Superior Court judge in Riverside, California. S. Thomas Bucciarelli was a strict law and order judge. On many occasions, when defense attorneys, probation officers, and prosecutors all agreed that a defendant be granted probation for a felonious offense, Judge Bucciarelli would respond in a firm voice, "Well I'm certainly not going along with this. I hereby sentence you to the term (in prison) prescribed by law!" Eventually, his peers ganged up on him. The position of Presiding Judge is rotated annually among each of the Superior Court judges. The only time Judge Bucciarelli was allowed to sit on a criminal case was when he was Presiding Judge and assigned himself to the criminal docket.

Probation without jail time and deferred adjudication will not help to bring our runaway drug problems under control. When those young folks, whose careers everyone is so concerned about, discover that jail time does not produce the "high" they were seeking, they will be far less likely to use marijuana again, while others will refrain from using it all together. Mandatory jail time will not eliminate drug abuse, but it will discourage illicit drug use by those who fear a certainty of incarceration and the attendant arrest record.

Because marijuana is the gateway drug to cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine abuse, any reduction in the use of marijuana will lead to a significant reduction in the use of these other drugs. Judge Rains got it right, but other members of the legal profession judged him to be wrong. Shame on them! They are not part of the solution to this nation's widespread use of illicit drugs. They are part of the problem!

Sunday, October 01, 2006


In the past few weeks a New York State Trooper, a City of Houston police officer, and a Florida deputy sheriff, were shot to death in the line of duty. These officers, and most officers killed in the line of duty, were not rookies. In fact, very few rookie officers ever get shot. It is the veteran officer who faces the greatest danger.

The New York State Trooper was ambushed by a jail escapee while he and his partner were staking out the residence of the escapee's former girlfriend. His partner was critically wounded. I have been on a lot of stake outs and they can sure get boring. After an hour or so, you can get really sleepy. To keep from falling asleep, you resort to bullshitting with your partner. Your attention span and alertness level decreases as the lenght of the stake out increases. Did these factors allow the killer to sneak up undetected on the officers?

The Houston police officer, on patrol by himself, was shot after a routine traffic stop. The killer was on his way home, accompanied by his young daughters. When he could not produce any identification, the officer arrested him instead of issuing a citation. A record check requested by the officer failed to show that, following an arrest on a charge of indecency with a child, the killer had been previously deported as an illegal immigrant.

The officer handcuffed the prisoner with his hands behind him, the standard handcuffing procedure. He patted the prisoner down for a weapon before placing him in the back of the patrol car. He had the little girls taken home before getting in the patrol car from which he called for a wrecker to tow the prisoner's car away. This was a "by the book" arrest procedure.

Unfortunately, the pat down did not reveal that the prisoner had a pistol tucked inside his waistband. Somehow, the prisoner was able to get hold of his gun, with which he shot the officer several times in the head. When other officers arrived, the prisoner was still handcuffed with his hands behind him. What started out as a routine traffic stop ended up as the tragic killing of a good veteran officer. Was the officer complacent because this was just one of many uneventful prior traffic stops? Was the faulty pat down the result of carelessness brought on by a "clean" record check. Did the officer feel that the prisoner posed no danger because he was accompanied by the little girls?

The Florida sheriff's deputy and a police dog were killed, and another deputy was wounded in a burst of gunfire following a traffic stop. Were the officers complacent because this was just another traffic stop? Did they get careless because there was more than one officer and they had a police dog with them?

None of the questions in these three cases are meant to criticize the slain officers. It is just a fact that in a matter of time police work becomes routine, leading its practitioners to become complacent and careless. It happens to the best of officers. A good example occurred a number of years ago when two experienced Houston narcotics officers prepared to arrest a drug dealer. One of the officers had already arrested the dealer a number of times without incident. They were friendly with each other and on a first name basis. The officers parked their car across the street from a bar where they believed the dealer to be. They entered the bar and informed him he was under arrest. They asked him to accompany them out of the bar. They did not handcuff or search him. He went along willingly, but when they were in the street, he pulled out a gun and killed the officer with whom he had been on a first name basis.

Rookie officers are less likely to be complacent or careless. They are still in a police academy training retention mode. They may not admit it, but they are a lot more fearful than their veteran colleagues. Fear is what makes them more careful and alert to life threatening situations as they go about their duties. That is why few rookie officers get killed. It is the veteran cops who are in the greatest danger and, more often not, they get killed by complacency and carelessness.