Sunday, December 31, 2006


Last July, LASO Deputy James Mee arrested Lethal Weapon star Mel Glibson in Malibu for drunk driving. During this incident, as reported in the initial arrest report, Gibson ranted against Jews. Mee's supervisors ordered him to rewrite the report and to delete Gibson's anti-Semitic outburst. However, LASO could not cover up Gibson's conduct because, a well known celebrity news Web site, had received and published a copy of the initial report, thereby letting the genie out of the bottle.

Gibson is a personal friend of LA Sheriff Lee Baca and has helped Baca raise money for LASO charities. Gibson has also made a number of public service commercials for LASO and has been a strong supporter of law enforcement. So, LASO had several good reasons to protect Gibson's reputation and to keep him from receiving any bad publicity.

On Auguts 5, I made the following remarks in my blog on Gibson's arrest. "Whoever provided TMZ with copies of the initial arrest report will be up to his ears in deep shit if LASO manages to find out who did it. You can bet that the investigation of that leak will be far more intense than the investigation of the whole Gibson affair." And, that is exactly what has happened.

According to his attorney, Mee has been harassed by LASO officials ever since Gibson's arrest. He was abruptly transferred from Malibu, home to the rich and famous, and exiled to the Agoura Hills station. His attorney alleges that Mee continues to be unfairly singled out for scrutiny by LASO supervisors. Last October, Mee was interrogated at length because LASO believes he provided TMZ with Gibson's initial arrest report. Mee insists that he is not the source of the leak to TMZ.

Mee's treatment sends a strong message to LASO deputies - DON'T FUCK WITH SHERIFF BACA'S FRIENDS. Baca was notified immediately of Gibson's arrest, but no one has said that he personally wanted the intitial report changed. It may be that Mee's supervisors, knowing of Gibson's friendship with Baca, took it upon themselves to cover up the details of Mad Max's arrest. What about the continuing harassment of Mee? I do not believe Baca is personally responsible for that. Suckass supervisors are probably behind that, trying to score points with the boss.

Would there have been any reaction by LASO, had a report on the arrest of Joe Sixpack been leaked to TMZ? I seriously doubt it. Poor Deputy Mee - he is really fucked. Once you get on a law enforcement agency's shit list, your career is all but over and your supervisors will make life miserable for you from then on out. Their aim is to drive you off the force. The whole Gibson affair and Mee's harassment both stink. It does not reflect well on LASO, and it does not reflect well on all of law enforcement.

Saturday, December 30, 2006


Car 54, where are you? Officers Muldoon and Toody, your new assignment is to bust the armed and infamous. Starting January 10, CBS Television will be airing ARMED AND FAMOUS, a new reality series featuring celebrities serving as police officers in Muncie, Indiana. The cast includes Erik Estrada from the '70s cop show ChiPs, La Toya Jackson, the 2005 Super Bowl bare-breast stripper, and Jason "Wee Man" Acuna from the MTV show Jackass.

Shame on the City of Muncie and the State of Indiana for participating in a television show which will result in the degradation of the police profession. This show will lead its viewers to believe that any jerk can be a cop. Sorry, but it takes a special type of person to be a good police officer and that excludes Michael Jackson's sister and "Wee Man," who is afflicted with achondroplasia, a form of dwarfism. Say what - a dwarf as a police officer? Why not Snow White? CBS advertises Armed and Famous as a reality show in which "Real Celebrities Become Real Cops" - bullshit, that's false advertisement.

Muncie must be really hard up for money. Joe Winkle, the police chief, believes the advertisement Muncie will receive every week will be invaluable. The law breakers who were handled by the celebrity cops have been paid a sum of money for their permission to be seen on television. There are already charges that the police coerced some of those law breakers into agreeing to be shown with these phony cops.

The celebrity cops were not permitted to participate in felony cases and they were always accompanied and supervised by veteran officers. The State of Indiana requires that before anyone can be vested with any police powers, they must have successfully completed a minimum of 40 hours of instruction in a pre-basic training course. Besides some firearms training, the only other training the celebrities participated in, as far as I was able to ascertain, was a phjysical fitness and agility program.

Where was the Indiana Law Enforcement Training Board when all this nonsense was going on? That state agency is charged with the responsibility of enforcing Indiana's peace officers standards and training laws. Where were the Indiana police chiefs' association and other law enforcement groups in that state? And where was the International Asociation of Chiefs of Police? Tlhese groups should have pressured the City of Muncie not to participate in this embarrassing venture.

CAR 54, WHERE ARE YOU? was a farcical cop comedy which ran on television from 1961 to 1963. It featured two stumblebum cops, Muldoon and Toody, who screwed up every assignmetnt they were given. Most cops were furious with that comedy, seeing it as a humiliation of the police. Several California law enforcement groups publicly protested their displeasure to the show's producers and to NBC television.

I thought Car 54 was funny as hell and enjoyed every moment of it. I told my fellow officers to lighten up and keep from taking themselves so seriously. I've always believed that cops would feel better about themselves and their jobs if they could laugh at themselves once in a while. I felt that Muldoon and Toody were so farcical that no one in their right mind could possibly believe cops were that dumb.

When it comes to Armed and Famous, I cannot bring myself to say anything good about that "reality" show. It will be an awful embarrassment to law enforcement. This is not a comedy. It will end up humiliating cops everywhere in this country, not just in Indiana. A more appropriate title would be ARMED AND INFAMOUS. MTV is not the only network with jackasses. Car 54, where are you?

Friday, December 29, 2006


Mike Tyson, former world heavyweight boxing champion, was arrested yesterday during a traffic stop in Scotsdale, Arizona. Tyson was in possession of several bags containing a white powder which he said was cocaine. He told the arresting officer that he used cocaine whenever he could get it. Tyson was charged with felony possession of drugs and released on his own recognizance.

How far the mighty have fallen. In the eighties, Tyson was a devastating puncher who destroyed all of his opponents in short order. Now he is just a pityful shell of his former self. Tyson reminds me of Sonny Liston, another devastating heavyweight champion. Liston lost his title to a young Cassius Clay (Muhammad Ali) while under the influence of heroin.

During my years in the fight game, I was personally acquainted with several champions - Rocky Graziano, Rocky Marciano, and Carmen Basilio among others - and a number of title contenders - Billy Graham, Tony Pellone, and Buddy Garcia among others. Graziano and Garcia, and their families, were close personal friends of mine. None of these great fighters ever fell from grace.

Why did Liston and Tyson crash while Graziano and Basilio did not? In my opinion, it all came down to family support. Liston, Tyson, and Graziano grew up in poverty on the mean streets. Boxing gave them the opportunity to rise above it all. Graziano and Basilio were blessed with good marriages. Liston and Tyson had a history of troubled marriages. Absent of family support, Liston and Tyson turned to drugs.

While I never cared much for Mike Tyson, I am truly saddened by his downfall. He had it all - fame and fortune. Now his fortune is all but gone and his fame has turned into infamy. Tyson, an ex-convict, won the most prestigious championship in professional sports before going into a tailspin toward drug addiction. How far the mighty have fallen - what a sad state of affairs.

Monday, December 25, 2006


Marijuana has always been recognized as a "gateway drug" because the users of methamphetamines, cocaine, and heroin almost always began their initial use of drugs by smoking pot. That is why marijuana is not the benign drug its advocates would have you believe. Those who use "recreational drugs" do so for their pleasure producing qualities. Sooner or later, the use of a drug, such as marijuana, becomes prosaic, thus leading its users to seek out stronger pleasure producing substances. Hence, the graduation from pot to meth, coke, heroin, or multiple drug use.

Until the 1970s, in most states, mere possession of marijuana constituted a felony. Marijuana became a major "drug of choice" during the anti-Vietnam War movement and, for political purposes, the penalties for the use, possession, or small sales of this drug evolved from felonies to misdemeanors. Politicians don't want NICE KIDS FROM GOOD FAMILIES to be sent to prison and/or to have a criminal record for smoking pot..

Advocacy groups, such as the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), have long pushed for the legalization of marijuana. NORML was originally bankrolled by Hugh Hefner of Playboy fame. Hefner, that paragon of virtue with his multiple sex partners, believed in the cultural revolution slogan of IF IT FEELS GOOD, DO IT! His counter culture mindset compelled him to advocate the legalization of recreational drugs, especially marijuana.

NORML takes credit for the decriminalization of marijuana by several states. and for the legalization of medicinal marijuana use in eleven states. NORML and other groups, like the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), debunk the "gateway" concept by using the ridiculous analogy of milk, the first ingestion by the newborn, being the true gateway substance which leads to the use of food, alcohol, tobacco, etc..The leniency shown to pot users could be coming to an end. Alaska and several other states which have decriminalized the possession of small amounts of marijuana are considering reversing their position.

Since 1975, Alaska has had the most liberal marijuana laws of all the states. Because the state's highest court ruled that the use and possession of small amounts of marijuana was a privacy right, possession of up to four ounces has been legal. However, the governor thinks that was then and this is now. Now there are much more potent types of pot and he believes that makes marijuana a truly dangerous drug. The governor has sent a bill to the Alaska legislature, which if enacted will recriminalize the possession of pot.

As for medical marijuana, is it science or science fiction? Medical authorities disagree about whether or not this drug really relieves the suffering of patients afflicted with glaucoma, cancer and AIDS. There is no scientific proof that marijuana has any medicinal value. NORML, MPP, and other pot proponents have done a good job of conning some members of the medical profession and some legislators into believing that marijuana is some kind of miracle drug. However, last April, the Food and Drug Administration declared marijuana has no medical value, thereby contradicting a 1999 review by the Institute of Medicine.

A recent study by Jon Gettman, a researcher from Virginia, claims that marijuana has become this nation's biggest cash crop, exceeding the value of corn and wheat combined. It is by far the biggest cash crop in California, and according to Gettman, it is among the top three cash crops in 30 states. Those who are calling for the legalization of marijana have jumped on this study by claiming that the federal government is losing billions of dollars anually in tax revenues by its prohibition against the cultivation and possession of pot.

When I was a California narcotics parole agent, I dealt with hundreds of heroin addicts. Despite all of the hassles and incarcerations, they continued to use heroin because they really liked the great feeling it gave them. I have yet to meet a heroin, cocaine, or meth user who did not smoke pot before graduating to the use of more dangerous drugs. That is why I am convinced that marijuana is far from benign, and that this gateway drug is actually the MOST DANGEROUS OF THE ILLICIT DRUGS.

Marijuana should not be legalized. The medicinal use of marijuana should be outlawed. The states which have decriminalized marijuana should recriminalize the use and possession of pot. Those convicted for possessing small amounts of pot should be made to serve a minimum of 30 days in a juvenile or adult detention facility. Will that fill up our jails and cost us a lot of money? Yes, but in the long run it will lead to a significant reduction in the use of pot and other drugs. A little jail therapy will go a long way to negate the pleasure producing qualities of pot.


Sunday, December 24, 2006


Article II, Section 1 of the United States Constitution lists the Qualifications for the Office of President. Our President must be a "natural born citizen" of this country, at least 35 years old, and a resodemt in this country for 14 years. The "natural born" provision prevents me, Henry Kissinger, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, and any other naturalized citizen from running for the highest office in the land. It is high time to eliminate the provision that requires our President to be born in the United States.

As for myself, I probably couldn't get elected dog catcher. Henry Kissinger, a great statesman and national security expert, is so controversial that, had he chosen to run for President at a younger age, he probably wouldn't have been elected. Gov. Schwarzenegger would have a hard time getting elected President with the womanizer baggage he carries. However, there are many notable naturalized citizens who have lived in this country for many years and who would, if qualified to run, be outstanding canditates for the Office of President.

At the time our Constitution was adopted, there may have been good reasons to require that our President be born in this country, but this is the 21st century. We are a nation of immigrants. Immigrants have made many outstanding contributions in the fields of science, medicine, industry, economy, education, military service, and public service, It does not speak well of us as a nation that these good citizens cannot seek the Office of President.

Article II, Section 1 of the United States Constitution should be amended to eliminate the "natural born citizen" provision. A well qulified natrualized citizen who has lived in this country for at least 14 years should not be barred from seeking this nation's highest office. Let the people decide whether or not they want to elect an immigrant President should one chose to run for that office.

The President of the United States is the Commander in Chief of our nation's armed services. Many of our military leaders have been elected President. George Washington, Ulysses S. Grant, Teddy Roosevelt, and Dwight Eisenhower are just a few of those who come to mind. John F. Kennedy and George H. W. Bush almost lost their lives in combat. On the other hand Bill Clinton was a draft dodger, while our current President has a dubious record of service in the National Guard.

The President ought to have some first-hand experience with our military because he is the Commander in Chief. Article II, Section 1 should also be amended to require that the President must have served honorably for four years in one of the branches of our armed services. I am not suggesting that a Presidential candidate have combat experience, only that he will have served honorably with our armed forces, either in a time of peace or a time of war.

I doubt whether I will live to see the day our Constitution is ammended so that a naturalized citizen can become President and so that the Commander in Chief will have served in the military before assuming that office. These amendments will ensure that every qualified citizen will have the opportunity to be elected President, regardless of where he or she was born, and that the Commander in Chief will have had some first-hand military experience.

Saturday, December 23, 2006


With kids facing the prospect of alcohol and drug abuse, sexual promiscuity, and teenage preganancy, it's tough to do a good job of parenting nowadays. How does one instill the right values in one's children? How does one discipline one's children? To use or not to use corporal punishment? To be strict or permissive? What kind of example do parents set for their children? How can parents who drink keep their kids from drinking? How can parents with a history of drug use keep their kids from using drugs? How can parents keep their kids from succumbing to pervasive peer pressure? If you agree that parenting is hard, wait until you see how tough it is to be a cop's kid.

My late father was a really great guy and he loved me and my sister very much. Having served in the Kaiser's army during WWI, he was very authoritarian. Add to that his teutonic temper and I was the recipient of many an "ohrfeige." (die ohrfeige - literally a box on the ear, figuretively a slap inthe face.) At the slightest provocation, and subconsciously I may have wanted to provoke him, whap - a painful ohrfeige.

I remember one incident because it was really funny. I think I was eight or nine years old at the time, when my parents and I arrived on the platform of a German train station just as the train we were supposed to take somewhere was pulling out. I don't know what possessed my father to run after the train and then, out of utter frustration, throw his suitcase at the dissapearing train. When he got back to my mother and me, I couldn't help but laugh and whap - another ohrfeige.

I suppose by today's standards, my father would have been called a "child abuser," but that was the German way of discipline at the time. While I didn't enjoy those painful slaps, I never thought that I was being abused. I was being disciplined. For languishing in the Boy Scouts at the tenderfoot rank, I received an ohrfeige with the result that, at the time, I became my hometown's youngest ever Eagle Scout. I graduated from high school, started college, enlisted in the army on my 17th birthday, finished college, became a law enforcement officer, and ended my career as a criminal justice professor, all thanks to my father's motivating ohrfeige.

I believe in corporal punishment. Unlike my father, I never used an ohrfeige or spanked my children while I was still angry. It was, "Go to your room and wait until I come to give you some licks." Now, your childless child psychologists, and all those who are opposed to corporal punishment, claim that by spanking children you teach them that violence is the way to resolve conflicts. What a crock of shit! I suppose that had I become a murderer, the anti-corporal punishment crowd would have said it was because I suffered from an abusive childhood.

When I was in high school, I enjoyed boxing and I was on a boxing team in the army. The childless child psychologist will say, "Aha, see you chose a violent sport because you were subjected to corporal punishment." No, I boxed because I was too small for football or basketball, and I couldn't hit the side of a barn with a baseball bat. I enlisted in the army, not to shoot or bayonet people, but because I thought it was my patriotic duty to fight for my adopted country. And I didn't become a law enforcement officer to kick the shit out of people - I wanted a challenging job with some excitement to it.

Kids have it tough too, what with trying to fit in with their peers while confronting the temptations and pervasive peer pressure among teenagers in today's society. And, it's especially tough to be a cop's kid. Teenagers do not have a high opinion of cops because the police regulate human behavior, and that includes their misbehavior. So when a kid tells another kid, "My father (or mother) is a police officer," that statement is often met with a sneer and a response of, "Oh, your old man (or old lady) is a cop?" So, what do many cops' kids do? They turn to misbehavior - drinking, smoking pot, sexual promiscuity, vandalism - as a way of gaining the acceptance of their peers.

At home, it's really tough to be a cop's kid. The nature of the police officer's job is authoritative and that carries over into the home. If you are a cop's kid, you don't dare to question your parent's wishes or commands. Police officers deal with the dregs of society and their victims on a daily basis. As a result, they get a warped view of people in general, and the fear for the safety of their children borders on the verge of paranoia. They become overprotective and resort to the strictest discipline. They do not give their children any space. A retired police officer friend told me recently that his son once said, "Dad, I'm your son, not your prisoner."

Parenting is a difficult art. Many criminals ccme from homes with uncaring or neglectful parents. But, a lot of criminals come from homes with loving parents who try to bring up good children. If a kid turns bad when raised by loving parents who are neither overly protective nor overly permissive, it should not reflect badly on the parents. Even when parents do their best to provide for their children and to teach them right from wrong, there is no guarantee that their kids will turn out to be good. Parents can only hope for the best. As for the kids of cops - you poor bastards - instead of being resentful, try to be understanding of and grateful to your caring parents.

Sunday, December 17, 2006


When you spend 41 days sailing to and from South America on a container ship, you pick up some interesting tidbits now and then which provide some good fodder for blogging. If you've read my blogs, you know that upon my return I published a blog on what the two pilots taking us up the New Orleans ship channel thought about drug use by professional atheletes and one on modern pirates of the sea. During this trip, I learned something new about the Department of Homeland Security which makes me question the sanity of that super agency's policy makers.

Every year since 1991, I have travelled to countries in South and Central America, Asia, and Europe. Whenever I returned, I was always treated with the utmost courtesy and respect by our immigration officers. Alas, others have not been as fortunate. The captain of my ship, for one, had a bad experience last year. I will not give you his name or the name of the ship because I do not want his name to pop up on an immigration shit list.

The captain and a sea cadet, both from Germany, flew into Miami where they were to board their ship. This was the cadet's first time in America. He was passed right through the airport's immigration station. The captain, who had been to this country many times over the years, was directed to another section of the station. When an officer started to examine his seaman's visa, which identified him as a ship's captain, the captain greeted the officer in his heavy German accent, "Hello officer, how are you today?" That friendly greeting was met with an icy glare and the captain was made to wait four hours before being passed through the station.

The captain's treatment was reminiscent of the indignities suffered by 86 year old Congressional Medal of Honor recipient Joe Foss last January, when some stupid security screeners at Phoenix International Airport mistook this nation's highest military award for a shunken, the Japanese Ninja throwing star. Both incidents are classic examples of the only way some people can feel big is by trying to make others feel little. And now, the captain knows THE GOLDEN RULE OF DEALING WITH AUTHORITY - SPEAK ONLY WHEN SPOKEN TO.

The captain told me that our immigration policies since 9/11 "don't make any sense." He informed me that a seaman who leaves his ship in Texas or Louisiana to return to his home country can only stay overnight and is required to leave the U.S. by the next day. However, if he leaves his ship in Florida, he is allowed to remain in this country for 90 days on his seaman's visa. The captain believed that Texas and Louisiana have their own immigration laws, but I explained to him that our states are prohibited from enacting such rules because only the federal government has the authority to regulate immigration.

Why in the world would a seaman be required to leave the U.S. within a day if he leaves his ship in Houston or in New Orleans, while he is allowed to remain for 90 days is he leaves his ship in Miami? My guess is it's because Texas and Louisiana's petro-chemical industries are prime terrorist targets, while the only industries in Florida are tourism and anti-Castroism. And, the captain is right - it doesn't make any sense. A seaman can leave his ship in Miami from where he can fly right on to Houston or New Orleans, and remain there until his 90 day visa expires.

Last July, I published a blog about the Department of Homeland Security entitled DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND PARANOIA - INTERNATIONAL TERRORISTS ARE TARGETING ICE CREAM PARLORS IN INDIANA. That super agency established a data base of 77,000 potential terrorist targets, with 8,591 in Indiana, 5687 in New York, and 3,212 in California. Because federal anti-terrorist funding is based on the number of targets, New York and the District of Columbia lost 40 percent of their funding to Indiana and some midwestern cities.

Next year, U.S. citizens will be required to have a passport when they return to this country from a visit to Canada or Mexico. The passport requirement is supposed to make us safer by making it harder for terrorists to enter this country. But, that doesn't make any sense either, when every week thousands of illegal aliens from Mexico and Central America flow unimpeded across the border separating California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas from Mexico. Homeland paranoia? Obviously, I misnamed the agency - I should have called it the DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND INSANITY.

The Department of Homeland Insanity is a huge bureaucracy which is sprinkled with political hacks in its upper echelons and with frustrated dead-enders at its lowest levels. The agency's upper echelon decision makers, trying to justify their jobs, have thought up the harebrained policies and data bases mentioned in this blog. The captain and Joe Foss had the misfortune of running into some frustrated lower level assholes who are unhappily mired in their dead-end jobs. On the upside, formation of this super agency has led to better intelligence sharing. But, are we actually any safer now? Does anyone really know?

Friday, December 15, 2006


On December 8, 2006, Rep. Cynthia McKinney, who lost a bid to retain her congressional seat in last November's election, filed a bill with Articles of Impeachment against President Bush. The first article charged the President with manipulating intelligence about weapons of mass destruction in order to get us into the war with Iraq. The second article charged the President with obstructing and hindering congressional investigations. The final article charged him with approving and supporting illegal domestic spying. Because McKinney's bill was filed just before the final adjournment of the present Congress, it was certain never to see the light of day.

When she announced the filing of the bill before a press conference, McKinney accused the President of violating his Oath of Office and with being guilty of committing high crimes and misdemeanors. She stated that she was calling for the President's impeachment because '"NO ONE IS ABOVE THE LAW." Hold it - stop and back up the train! On March 20, 2006, this same Congresswoman assaulted a Capitol police officer by slugging him in the chest with her cell phone.

On that occasion, McKinney bypassed the metal detector at a security checkpoint in the entrance to a congressional office building, a privilege bestowed upon the 100 Senators and the 435 members of the House of Representatives.. The white Capitol police officer did not recognize McKinney, an African-American, and tried to stop her in order to check her ID. McKinney took offense that this cop had the audacity to stop her and responded by slugging the officer with her cell phone. When she claimed to be the victim of bias and racial profiling, a predominantly black grand jury refused to indict McKinney for assaulting the officer.

McKinney's press conference statement that she filed her impeachment bill against the President because "no one is above the law" is a good example of the pot calling the kettle black. When she slugged that officer, she didn't hesitate to place herself above the law. Fortunately, by defeating her bid for another term in Congress, the voters of McKinney's congressional district saw fit to send this hypocrite packing.

Monday, December 04, 2006


When people hear about pirates, they usualluy conjur up visions of a bygone era with Blackbeard and the other pirates of the Caribbean. Most perople are not aware that today piracy on the seas is alive and well. Today's pirates are not the swashbucklers of Blackbeard's time who attacked merchant ships with cannons and boarded them with swords and pistols in hand.

Modern pirates are stealthy knife or gun wielding thieves and robbers who operate from fishing boats or from deep-sea going power boats, sneaking up on their prey in the middle of the night. Container ships and open cargo ships are their favorite targets, but they will attack tankers and other bulk carriers as well. They are most prevalent off the African coast, in the waters of Southeast Asia, and off the South American coast. And, they still operate in the Caribbean.

I have just returned from 41 days aboard a container ship which sailed from the U.S. to the Dominican Republic, Brazil, Argentina, and Mexico. I was on the bridge every day looking at the ship's charts, most of which were marked with designated "Pirate Area" locations. Many ships have to wait at anchorage outside a port until a dockside berth becomes available. Pirates prefer to attack a ship at night while it is in anchorage. However, as I learned first-hand, they will also board a ship while it is docked in port.

Around 3:00 AM on November 4th, while we were docked in Santos, Brazil, one of our crew members discovered pirates aboard the ship. They had broken into a 40 foot container and were unloading cartons of Mary Kaye perfume which they threw overboard into a waiting boat. By the time they were discovered, they had removed half of the perfume loaded in the container. That was a lot of perfume. Five or six of the pirates had boarded the ship by going up the gangway pretending to be dockworkers. When they were discovered, they left the same way. The crew had orders not to stop them because they were probably armed with knives or possibly guns. The Captain told me, "We are sailors, not soldiers."

The pirates in Santos knew exactly what they were after and where to find it. This would indicate that they were in collusion with one or more dock supervisors who had access to the ship's manifest as well as specific knowledge of the perfume's exact location. The dock supervisors could have facilitated the boarding of the ship via the gangway. It is also quite possible that the pirates were in cahoots with the police or security personnel.

To prevent the theft of the ship's electronics and the crew's valuables, all deck and cabin doors are locked while the ship is in anchorage or docked. The locked deck doors will prevent pirates from getting access to the inside of the ship. While in anchorage, there is at least one crew member on each wing of the bridge, keeping a sharp lookout for any suspicious boats. During a recent voyage, the captain of my ship went to the bridge one night while it was in anchorage. He found the watch officer sound asleep and one of the lookouts dozing off in a deck chair on one of the wings. Both were fired when the ship arrived at the next port.

Right after the reunification of Germany, the captain, an East German, was on a ship in the Singapore Straits. Because he had to be recertified by the new government, he relinquished his command to another captain, serving as the first mate instead. The new captain was lax in enforcing anti-piracy measures, failing to post lookouts on the bridge wings while in anchorage. One night, instead of locking all doors, he sent the cook and messman to the deck on some errand. They were immediately captured by a group of pirates who had boarded the ship undected. The Chief Engineer barely escaped capture by locking himself in the engine compartment. The pirates made their way up to the bridge where they surpised the captain and the helmsman, poking each in the kidneys with long knives. They stripped the ship of its electronics and robbed everyone they found of their valuables before returning to their boat.

Today's piracy is not without its moments of humor. After the pirates departed, my friend, who slept through the Singapore Straits attack, was awakened by loud banging on his cabin door and informed of what happened by an almost speechless crewman. He made his way up to the bridge where he found the captain white as a ghost and completely speechless. On the other hand, the helmsman was laughing, pulling his wristwatch out from inside of his jockey briefs and exclaiming, "They didn't get my watch." Several years ago, my captain was on another ship which was attacked in Peruvian waters by pirates who made off with a whole container full of expensive shoes. However, the pirates were outsmarted by the manufacturer who had loaded only left shoes in one container, while loading the right shoes in an entirely different container.

Piracy at sea continues to be a serious and dangerous problem for ships and their crews. I was made aware of this when I took my first container ship voyage in 2003. Because sailors are not soldiers, they will attempt to repel boarders only by using fire hoses, and failing that, will retreat to the inside, locking the doors behind them. Today's pirates may not be the romanticized rogues of Blackbeard's time, but they are out there doing their dirty deeds throughout much of the seafarer's world.

Friday, December 01, 2006


Recently, I was on the bridge of a container ship heading up the ship channel from the Gulf of Mexico to New Orleans. The ship was being guided by two pilots. In between the heading instructions they gave to the helmsman they talked among themselves. I could not help but overhear their conversations. They were big fans of the National Football League. Among other subjects, they discussed the problem of drug use among professional athletes in football, basketball and baseball.

One of the pilots said, "In our job, you use drugs, that's it, you're out." They felt it should be the same way in pro-sports. "They should tell the players, WE PAY YOU BIG BUCKS, SO DON'T DO DRUGS. PERIOD." The pilots agreed that the player contracts should contain a standard clause prohibiting any use of performance enhancing substances and any drugs other than those prescribed by a qualified liscensed physician. All player contracts should specify that any illegal use of drugs, including the smoking of marijuana, would result in their immediate and permanent suspension with no possibilty of reinstatement as a player or in any other capacity within the league.

The pilots also agreed that the team owners and the player unions would each vehemently oppose any such clause. The owners make an awful lot of money off their star players, while the main business of the unions is the protection of their members, the players. The pilots then discussed whether a lesser penalty might be acceptable to the owners and unions. Their alternative was a full-season suspension for the first-time use of drugs and a permanent ban from playing for any subsequent use of drugs. They also felt that the owners and unions would be just as opposed to this proposal.

Athetes have been pampered from high school through college. In basketball, the majority of players never graduate from college - some of them couldn't spell "cat" if you spotted them the "c" and the "t." Many pro-football players have also failed to obtain a college degree. The pampering continues in the professional leagues. The current penalties for drug use are a joke in all leagues.

In many occupations, the illegal use of drugs mandates a license revocation and a permanent ban from working in that occupation. And so it should be with professional athletes. The pilots got it right when they said that any illegal use of drugs by a professional ball player should result in an immediate and permanent suspension from any further participation in any league activity. A standard contract clause calling for such a penalty would be a powerful deterrent to illegal drug use. It's a shame the team owners, the player unions, and the players themselves don't see it that way.


Last October, the surviving members of the original Black Panthers held a reunion with some 200 participants in Oakland, California. A Reuters News Service dispatch described the Panthers as an "urban radical movement" that had a "painful birth" in the City of Oakland 40 years ago. It referred to its founders , Huey Newton and Bobby Seale as "local activists." Whoa! Reuters was playing really loose with the facts. Oakland was not the birthplace of the Panthers and the group was not formed as an urban movement by local activists.

The Black Panther Party for Self-Defesne was born in 1966 at San Quentin, one of California's maximum security prisons. Its founders and charter members were convicts doing hard time for armed robberies, murders, burglaries, assaults, and other felonies. They had no intention of going straight upon their release from prison. These were "ciminal activists," not local activists, who formed the Panthers in order to protect themselves from the police following their release. They were inspired by Mao Tse-tung and relied on many of his quotations in their printed handouts.

The Panthers gained world-wide attention when they entered the State Capitol dressed in black berets and leather jackets, carrying shotguns and bandoleers. They demanded a number of rights and scared the supreme shit out of California's state legislators. That confrontation led to the myth that the Panthers were a group of urban activists seeking justice and equal rights for the black community. In truth, the Panthers continued to commit robberies, burglaries, murders, and assaults. Its members were involved in a number of deadly shootouts with the police, not only in California, but in other parts of the United States as well.

Much has been made of the free breakfast program provided by the Panthers to the poor black children of Oakland. Less well known is the fact that during these breakfasts, the Panthers distributed their Black Panther Coloring Book. In it, the panthers used the term "pigs" to describe all whites and referred to the police as the "pig police." Their coloring book, a copy of which I still have, was full of hatred against all whites and it encouraged brave black children to attack and kill cowardly police officers.

People tend to make folk heroes out of scoundrels. Robin Hood, for one, comes to mind. Then there was Jesse James, the notorious bank robber. There was Billy the Kid, a youthful cold-blooded killer. John Dillinger, Bonnie and Clyde, Pretty Boy Floyd, and their contemporary bank robbers have all been added to a list of American folk heroes,

Radical leftists and many blacks want to portray the Black Panthers as a group of civil rights activists who used a radical approach in the black community's fight for justice and equal rights. They believe the Panthers, their folk heroes, became the victims of a racist police force determined to destroy them. Nothing could be further from the truth. Most Panthers killed by the police were shot while committing armed robberies or other felonies.

Panthers also committed a number of deadly attacks against unsuspecting police officers. In 1967, Huey Newton himself shot a police patrolman to death at an Oakland bus stop. At his trial, the State's chief eyewitness, a black bus driver, testified that the shooting was unprovoked. Newton testified that he acted in self-defense when he was attaced by the officer, a claim no one else corroborated. Shades of the O. J. Simpson trial - a black jury refused to convict Newton of first degree murder for that cold blooded killing, despite the evidence against him.

One case did give weight to those allegations that the police intended to destroy the Panthers, After a 1969 shootout in Chicago, the police discredited themselves by attempting to cover their asses with some creative "home remodeling." When they raided an apartment, there was a brief exchange of gunfire during which a stray bullet went through a wall into an adjoining room, killing Pamther leader Fred Hampton while he was in bed. As the police sought entry, someone inside the apartment fired a few shots through the front door. Officers responded with a fusilade that left the door riddled full of holes. Fearing they would be accused of murdering Hampton in bed, the police attempted to conceal the number of shots they fired by removing the door and having the crime lab reverse the hinges so that in rehanging the door it would appear most of the shots came from inside the apartment. After that cover-your-ass chicanery was uncovered, left-wingers always referred to this case as "the murder of Fred Hampton."

Huey Newton did not live to attend the recent Black Panther reunion. Alas, poor Huey was killed in 1989, not by the police, but by a black dope dealer during a dispute over Newton's failure to pay for an earlier purchase of cocaine.

The Panthers were started in prison by a bunch of convicted thugs and thieves, The thuggery and thievery continued after their release. Did they accomplish anything in the fight for justice and civil rights? Absolutely not! When their aura faded, the Panthers simply left behind a legacy of unresolved urban conflict, crime, death, and black hatred of whites. What a legacy. Folk heroes, my ass! My 80 year old useless balls deserve more recognition than that pack of retired thugs and thieves.