Monday, December 29, 2014
Regarding my previous post and the statistical chart, a friend advised, after reading same and reviewing the chart, that my interpretation of the chart reflects my bias. He might be right. I am not an advocate of legalized, recreational marijuana. I do think that the current policy (in Oregon) to legalize marijuana is a mistake – and will be particularly detrimental to our young people. That said, maybe, over time, we will learn to live with marijuana, and any associated abuses; just as we have with alcohol. I hope so. But, I still believe there will be considerable collateral damage in the meantime.
The chart: Well, I understand that statistics can lie and that liars use statistics. However, not capable of conducting my own in-depth research on the subject, I considered the source fairly reputable.
What I thought was particularly shocking was the reported statistic that approximately 20% of high schoolers have, pretty consistently since the year 2000, used marijuana ‘within the past 30 days.’ If true, I am totally out-of-touch with what is considered typical at an American high school.
My friend pointed-out the 1.5% drop in MJ usage 2013 to 2014 – and that it was a positive indicator – in his opinion. Personally, I’m not so sure. One year doesn’t necessarily indicate a trend.
So, how do we explain that smoking in high school is way, way down, and marijuana usage remains at one out of five students? Has the campaign against smoking worked in a spectacular way? Have cigarettes just become too darned expensive for the average high school student? What’s going on? Are there any high school teachers that can help me out on this?
Furthermore, what will the high school student usage of MJ be as more and more states legalize it? I think usage will go up; but, I could be wrong – it wouldn’t be the first time.
Saturday, December 27, 2014
In case you missed it. Of particular note to all the self-assured parents and grandparents who voted for legalized, recreational marijuana, with the understanding that said legalization would not impact minors (possession of which is illegal for those under 21 years of age), there is good news and bad news.
From an article by Elena Holodny, Business Insider, dated 12/23/14: ‘America’s High School Kids Prefer Weed.’
The good news: Ms. Holodny’s research has shown that cigarette smoking has trended down: “Only 10.3% (High Schoolers) have reportedly smoked a cigarette in the past 30 days, down from 27.4% in 2000”
The bad news: However, as the above chart shows; “The gap between marijuana and cigarette usage is widening. Until 2008, cigarettes were the preferred option, but now weed is clearly the go-to for those in High-School.”
Cigarette companies are now pondering the feasibility of entering the marijuana business – clearly a growth industry; and an apparently attractive commodity to our youth.
For the tobacco industry, a new motto might be, or is it their old motto, ‘Get ‘em while they’re young.’
Sunday, December 21, 2014
I’m not going to mince words here. The New York protesters that walked the streets chanting, “What do you want? Dead Cops! When do you want it? Now!” are in large part responsible for the assassination of the two New York City Police Officers, Rafael Ramos and Wenjin Lin.
And to those protesters, I say: ‘Don’t try and rationalize it. You brought this on and you are responsible. This is part of your life’s legacy. This is the shame you have brought on your families. There is nothing you can do or say, at this point, that will in any way absolve you from blame or shame. Please just do us all a favor and slink back to your pathetic, meaningless lives.’
I just want the New York PD and the officers’ families, to know that many of us, most of us, throughout this country, morn their loss. It was so unnecessary and tragic.
And, as for your mayor, Bill de Blasio, what can I say? The majority of New Yorkers voted for him.
A sad note for this holiday season.
Wednesday, December 17, 2014
Aaron L. Hodges:
I have to restrain myself from saying what I would really like to say about this individual.
He was recently fired from Nordstrom’s in Portland for posting on Facebook what normal, decent people would consider one of the most hateful, distasteful, stupid and racist statements imaginable.
He wrote: “Instead of slamming the police, I prefer a Kenny Fort approach. Every time an unarmed black man is killed, you kill a decorated white officer, on his door step in front of his family.” (Actually Hodges was referring to Jeff Fort)
According to The Oregonian article 12/17/14, Hodges stated that the comment was taken out of context and that he didn’t actually mean for it to be literally interpreted.
OK, I understand. And, if I was to say that Hodges was a moron, I am not inferring that he is literally a moron - he is, however, a moron, figuratively speaking.
OK, I understand. And, if I was to say that Hodges was a moron, I am not inferring that he is literally a moron - he is, however, a moron, figuratively speaking.
Nordstrom’s did ask Hodges to seek work elsewhere. I'm sure they were very polite about it. Nordstrom’s is, after all, a responsible employer in our community. And very accommodating too. According to the Oregonian, Hodges had been previously convicted for Assault, Forgery, and “eight counts of manufacturing and delivering drugs.”
Nordstrom’s employment philosophy is, apparently, that everyone deserves a second, third, fourth, perhaps a fifth chance. Makes one wonder where Mr. Hodges was working at Nordstrom’s. He’d be a good fit for HR, or even the Accounting Department.
Oh, yes, and who exactly is Jeff Fort?
Per Wikipedia: “Jeff Fort is a former Chicago gang leader. Fort was convicted of drug trafficking in 1983 and sentenced to 13 years in prison. He is currently serving a 155 year prison sentence after being convicted of terrorism conspiracy in 1987 for plotting to commit attacks inside the U.S. in exchange for weapons and $2.5 million from Libya.”
Friday, December 12, 2014
I hope that many of you will take just a few moments out of your busy schedules to watch this video, narration by Paul Harvey - somewhat dated, but, nonetheless, timely.
Monday, December 8, 2014
For those who might read this post, maybe you can answer a question for me. I might have missed this.
Did United States Attorney General Eric Holder rush to the following victim’s families to offer his personal condolences and to hug and comfort the victim’s grieving family members?
Melvin Santiago (White), Jersey City, New Jersey PD was shot and killed 7-13-14 by a Black man.
Jeffrey Westerfield (White), Gary, Indiana PD was shot and killed 7-6-14 by a Black man.
Perry Renn (White), Indianapolis, Indiana PD was shot and killed 7-5-14 by a Black man.
Deputy Sheriff Allen Bares, Jr. (White), Vermillion Parish, Louisiana was shot and killed 6-23-14 by a Black man.
Charles Dinwiddie (White), Killen, Texas PD was shot and killed 5-11-14 by a Black man.
Kevin Jordan (Black), Griffin, Georgia PD was shot and killed 5-31-14 by a White man.
Thursday, December 4, 2014
Some final words on the Michael Brown, Ferguson incident. It is with some sadness that I see this growing racial divide in our country. I thought we were making good progress over the years; but now it seems we are in a period of regression or entrenchment. It makes me wonder what is going on. Has our President, and his recent comments, reduced the racial divide or widened it? More likely the latter, in my opinion.
I suppose, as many have said, there are numerous reasons: unemployment, poor schools, and the breakdown in the traditional family unit, on and on. There are, of course, no easy answers.
I am supportive of the police. Generally speaking they do a very good job under difficult and sometimes dangerous situations.
As an FBI Agent in the 70s, I considered myself racially unbiased – for the most part. In my prior military experience, I worked with many minorities. In the military, quite frankly, one becomes ‘color blind’ to that sort of thing. A couple of my best friends were African Americans – wonderful guys. There were ‘Black’ Agents in the Bureau as well – and my feelings were the same for those of them who were my co-workers.
On the other hand, in the San Francisco Bay area, during the 70s, this was the era of the Black Panthers, the SLA, the Black Liberation Army, the Weather Underground, the Red Guerilla Family, etc., etc. The individuals who made up these groups; well, let’s just say, I had nothing in common with them. Many were dangerous criminals. They were the enemy. Harsh words, I know. And, I also am aware that many people, now, have an idealized, albeit unrealistic image of the 70’s groups referenced above. I do not. All I can say is that you were not there, you didn’t know these people like I did.
Let me describe, very briefly, a typical arrest in the Oakland projects. Four Agents would go inside the multi-story building to make the arrest. Two Agents stayed behind, on the street, to protect the Bureau cars. While you waited on the street, you had a bit of a dilemma. You couldn’t hide or show fear. Standing in plain sight, as each second passed, you wondered if someone was taking aim at your head from an adjacent building. Going inside, well, that was like entering another world, filled with sullen, hateful, alien eyes. You moved as fast as you could, hoping that everything would go smoothly with no confrontation. If the subject resisted, all hell would break loose.
Are there some ‘white folks’ out there, liberal types, who would say, “I’d love to have that job.”? I doubt it. Are there ‘blacks’ out there who would welcome the opportunity to make an arrest in the ‘projects’? I doubt that too. African American Police Officers and Agents know the dangers more than anyone.
So what can we conclude about those in law enforcement? Surprisingly, most of the guys and gals are pretty high quality, and quite rational. Law enforcement personnel, many of them, are a cut above. Yes, there are more than a few bad cops. But, the majority risk their lives to protect us – and we should honor them.
Police work is not, should not, be considered warfare. The mission of the police is to serve and to protect. And, arresting bad people is part of protecting honest citizens. But, in a microcosm, in the rare one on one confrontation, there are similarities to warfare. And, we the public, should understand that. There are risks, dangers, fears, and even sometimes collateral damage involved in enforcing the law and protecting the majority. That’s the way it is. That’s the way it has always been.
If I could quote John Stuart Mill (a liberal in his time) briefly, and in a slightly redacted form – with the understanding that he was speaking of war, not law enforcement. That said, might there be some relevance in Mill’s words that we all should consider?
"The person who has nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself."
John Stuart Mill (1806 - 1873)
Wednesday, November 26, 2014
There are some aspects of the Michael Brown shooting that trouble me. As a former deputy sheriff, FBI Agent and FBI firearms instructor, I would not have reacted as Ferguson Police Officer, Darren Wilson, did; and I’ll tell you why.
This is not a criticism of Officer Wilson. He probably reacted appropriately and in accord with his training.
When I was in law enforcement, the weapon of the day (really not that long ago) was a .357 magnum revolver. It held six rounds. By training and experience, a deputy or an Agent knew exactly how many rounds / bullets had been fired, and how many live rounds remained available - at all times. Now, I’d be willing to wager, cops involved in shootings generally have no idea. If someone, after the shooting of Michael Brown, had asked Wilson how many shots he’d fired from his semi-automatic’s large capacity clip, he would have probably shrugged his shoulders.
With the large capacity clips, I can say with certainty, law enforcement training has been downgraded (in my opinion) to maximize firepower over marksmanship and related tactics.
Would I have killed Michael Brown under the same circumstances? I don’t know. What I do know is that I probably would not have started firing at the distances reported, and probably fired no more than twice before making a split second evaluation of the effect. First, Wilson knew, or apparently knew, that Brown did not have a weapon. Secondly, a properly placed bullet will stop someone at very close range, if you’re confident in hitting what you are shooting at. However, I would not have let Brown engage me in some sort of wrestling match for the possession of my firearm. As I’ve said before, many cops are killed with their own gun.
The other troubling aspect is Wilson’s approach to Brown. Reportedly, Wilson knew that Brown was a suspect in a ‘strong-arm’ robbery. Wilson should never have allowed the suspect to get so close to him when he (Wilson) was still seated in his vehicle. And, apparently, Wilson attempted to talk to Brown through the rolled-down window of his patrol car. That was his first mistake. I guess that Wilson’s explanation was that when he attempted to get out of his vehicle, Brown pushed the door closed, and then began to assault Wilson through the open window. Regardless, Wilson was too close to Brown while still in his vehicle.
This is a tragedy for everyone concerned. Wilson was recently asked if he would have done anything differently. He responded that he would not have. My thought is of course he would have. His career and personal life are in tatters, and he narrowly escaped prosecution.
It is reported that Michael Brown had marijuana in his system. To my knowledge, MJ does not cause the type of behavior he exhibited on that fateful day. Brown, from all indications, was an angry, possibly mentally impaired, individual looking for trouble. It cost him his life. Yes, he was just eighteen; and that is sad. But, he was dangerous nonetheless. If he had reached Wilson, he could have potentially killed a police officer who was only trying to do his job.
Saturday, November 22, 2014
The Letter / Short Story by True Nelson / #4 in the series
Said story and previous stories can be found at the following. They are probably best read in the indicated order:
For more information about my blog, Online True Stories, visit Introduction.
Comments always welcome. I can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org/.
Monday, November 17, 2014
I don’t know if you noticed – or much less care – but Canada just enacted a new law outlining the illegalities associated with prostitution. The dubious premise of this law is that it is not illegal to prostitute oneself; but it is illegal to offer to purchase the product. Now, if you are trying to make sense of this law, good luck with that.
“The law legalizes the sale of sex. However, interactions and communications between prostitutes, johns and pimps, remains illegal. And so is the purchase of sex.”
Now let me get this straight. Here is a woman who makes her living selling sex, but she is the ‘victim.’ The ‘john,’ on the other hand, who makes his living as a bank-teller or auto mechanic and who accepts an offer from a ‘woman who makes her living selling sex’; well, he goes to jail. OK. I’ve got it. I guess.
How this new law squares with the commonly accepted legal provisions of ‘entrapment,’ I have no idea.
So, how might this work? Perhaps, you are a tourist walking down the street in Vancouver, BC doing a little shopping or planning to stop off somewhere for a spot of tea and a crumpet. Mind you, I didn’t say strumpet, I said crumpet – which is entirely innocent and can be quite tasty.
As you stroll along, a young, attractive woman approaches you and says she is selling sex for money – or she might even be holding a sign that says she is selling sex for money. Now, up until that point, a roll in the hay was not something you had considered (not sure if they have hay in Vancouver, but you get the idea). However, you, in a joking sort of way, not meaning to be rude, respond with, “How much will it cost me?” Mistake! Coincidentally, a shopkeeper overhears the conversation and summons the police. Very shortly, you find yourself at the local jail. Whereupon, with typical Canadian civility, before locking you in a cell, the jail staff allows you to call your wife who is taking a nap at the local Sheraton. She, the wife, is not happy about your confused and feeble explanation.
This got me thinking about other laws that the Canadian authorities should consider enacting. How about these:
- It’s not against the law to sell illegal drugs; but it is against the law to purchase them. Justification: Many ‘dealers’ come from broken homes, hardscrabble lives, and might (in some cases) be minorities – therefore victims in their own right.
- It’s not against the law to sell stolen property, but it is against the law to buy it.
I can think of other possible scenarios, but I will leave it at that. I just wanted to say to the Canadian legislators who enacted this prostitution law: ‘Thanks for giving me a good laugh.’
Tuesday, November 11, 2014
Too bad this study didn’t come out before Oregon legalized recreational marijuana. But, anyone who has spent time with a chronic marijuana user already knew this – that chronic use of marijuana shrinks your brain and lowers your IQ. Maybe that recent study would have affected the vote in Oregon. Ah, no, I don’t think so.
According to researchers at the Center for Brain Health at the University of Texas – Dallas:
“Compared with a person who never smoked marijuana, someone who uses marijuana regularly has, on average, less gray matter in his orbital frontal cortex, a region that is a key node in the brain's reward, motivation, decision-making and addictive behaviors network.” (Findings published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.)
What the researchers were unable to determine is whether or not the marijuana users’ brains were abnormal and IQs lower before they started using marijuana; which, of course, could have been the case.
However, it has actually been known for a long time that chronic use of marijuana has a detrimental effect on a brain, particularly in younger people. But, not to worry MJ users – a loss of 8 to 10 points in your IQ is a small price to pay.
I guess what really interested me, in Oregon’s recent election, was the large turnout by young voters reportedly motivated by their opportunity to vote for legalized ‘pot.’
Also, counter to what one might suppose, demographic studies seem to have also indicated that most young voters voted for ‘package labeling regarding GMOs,’ genetically modified food products. This measure, in spite of the youth vote, failed. Nonetheless, young people are apparently concerned about what they put in their bodies – with the possible exception of marijuana – which they have determined is basically a harmless, fun thing.
Well, youngsters, you should know, according to the Mayo Clinic, that:
- There are approximately 480 chemical components in marijuana – approximately 60 known to only exist in marijuana; and that most of those particular chemicals and their effect on the human body is, as yet, unknown.
- THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) is, of course, the main component and primarily responsible for the mind altering effect. At least that is what scientists believe.
- And last, but not least, marijuana smoke contains 50 to 70% more carcinogenic hydrocarbons than tobacco. Furthermore, the manner in which marijuana is used – one inhales and holds the smoke for a period of time to maximize the effect – increases carcinogenic exposure and possible cell damage.
So, Bill Clinton was right. Go ahead and use the marijuana, but just don’t inhale.
Saturday, November 8, 2014
Did you ever wonder where the colors ‘blue’ for Democratic states and ‘red’ for Republican states came from? I did. The colors seem counter-intuitive, don’t they? Lincoln was a Republican and the Union Army wore blue. Political leftists, socialist, anarchists, and dare I say communists, have, over the years, been referred to as ‘Reds.’ The 1981 motion picture ‘Reds’ staring Warren Beatty was about a leftist activist and socialist writer. Democrats are now described as on the ‘left;’ and Republicans on the ‘right.’
So I wondered if modern day journalists, or even politicians, sat down together and decided that calling the Democratic states 'red states' cut a little too close to the bone; and was, perhaps, inappropriate. But, why are there Blue and Red states anyway? Why not green and yellow, or some other combination?
Well, it appears that the color coding of states during elections was mostly due to color television. During the 1976 Presidential Election, NBC constructed a large illuminated US map. If Jimmy Carter (the Democrat) won a state, it lighted-up red. If Gerald Ford (the Republican) won a state it lighted up blue. This manner of reporting the states’ election results subsequently became very popular and ubiquitous. But, as you might have noted, the colors, at the time, were the opposite of what they are now.
In the 1984 Presidential election, CBS used the opposite color scheme; red for Republican and blue for Democrat. However, various networks and news sources used either.
During the 2000 Presidential election, most news sources had decided on red for Republican and blue for Democrat. When a Time Magazine representative was asked why that was. He remarked that ‘red’ starts with an R and so does Republican. Yes, well, OK, I guess that makes sense.
So there you have it. Believe it or not.
Tuesday, November 4, 2014
I wasn’t going to comment on this situation. It is so intensely personal for her and her family. I know most of you have already read much about this. I’m referring to Brittany Maynard, the young woman, who on Saturday took her own life under Oregon’s Death with Dignity statute. A recent resident of Portland, she and her husband had moved here from California so that she could have some control over her remaining days. She had been diagnosed with terminal brain cancer and had only weeks to live.
Brittany, 29 years-old at the time of her medically supervised self-inflicted death, must have been an extremely brave and pragmatic person. Some call it suicide. Some call it a merciful end. It appears that Brittany made her decision to relieve her own suffering, as well as the suffering of her immediate family.
That said, I’m writing because the ‘God’ issue has come up.
As reported in the news media: “A senior Vatican official has condemned as wicked the assisted suicide of Brittany Maynard, an American woman suffering from terminal brain cancer.” And per the official: “… to commit suicide is not a good thing, it is a wicked thing because it is saying no both to one's own life and to everything which signifies respect for our mission in this world and towards those closest to us.”
In view of circumstances, this statement by the Vatican was, to me, offensive. I’m not a Catholic. I should acknowledge that fact. I can best describe myself as an Agnostic. And, I am not qualified to discuss religious doctrine. However, it appears that God is the issue and the fanciful dictates of those who presumably are in the know. Am I right? And, is not the Vatican attempting to speak on behalf of God?
I know these two facts. No one, including the Pope, knows if there is a God. On the other hand, no one including our most learned scientists know that there is not a God. No one. Absolutely no one. And, as a result, no one knows what constitutes sin in the eyes of a possible God or an improbable God – depending upon your perspective.
Mr. Senior Vatican Official, I wish you would have kept your comments to yourself. Let this young woman rest in peace. And, if you have some spare time on your hands, how about pontificating on ISIS? Talk about wicked.
Thursday, October 23, 2014
November 4th, Election Day, is fast approaching. I sent in my ballot today.
For those outside of Oregon, you should understand that we have a vote-by-mail process. Ballots have already been received by the registered voters in the State and quite a few Oregonians have already voted.
What do I think about voting by mail? Well, it's convenient, but there is definitely an opportunity for minor fraud with that system, and I am sure it exists to some degree. I would prefer voting in person and showing photo ID prior to casting one’s ballot; but, of course, that concept is abhorrent to a predominately ‘blue state’ like Oregon. So we tolerate a little fraud here and there. Things like a friend or family member voting for an elderly person – and then having the elderly person scribble their name on the ballot. Do I know for a fact that such practices have occurred? Yes.
I don’t vote on every ballot measure or political position. For example, I did not vote for the position of US House of Representatives. Why bother? Earl Blumenauer, the Democrat, will win this District. It’s a no-contest. Districts have been ‘gerrymandered’ to the point that there is no actual contest in some of them. Party big-wigs pick the candidate, and the candidate wins in a landslide by acquiring as little as 10% of the votes of those citizens actually registered in the District. It’s embarrassing. It’s really kind of sad, kind of pathetic.
I voted for Measure 90; “Changes general election nomination processes: provides for single primary ballot listing candidates; top two advance.” As an Independent, for example, I can’t vote in the Primary in any significant way. Well, they try to make believe you can participate by organizing some hokey primary for the Independents, but it really means nothing. Oh, I know, it’s possible under this proposed system that, in subsequent general elections, we could have two Democrats running against each other in this District. But, we’d still have a choice – which we do not now have.
I voted against Legalized Recreational Marijuana. If you’ve read my previous blog posts on this subject, that probably comes as no surprise. My concern is for kids and young people. It just sends the wrong message. Enough said…
I voted against Measure 88; “Provides Oregon resident ‘driver card’ without requiring proof of legal presence in the United States.” Yes, I’ve heard all the arguments in favor. I just can’t understand why we should facilitate, encourage, act as an accomplice to anyone breaking Federal Law (Misprision of a Felony). However, such dubious and vacillating legal standards seem to be becoming more and more prevalent.
Yes, and I am including Legalized Recreational Marijuana in this opinion. We either have laws or we don’t. And, please don’t tell me the roads will be safer with ‘illegal immigrants’ driving around and those others, who are so inclined, smoking a ‘joint.’
Think about this. They say that the ‘illegal immigrants’ who are given a ‘driver card’ will be required to have insurance. That’s nice. What insurance company is going to give an ‘illegal’ liability insurance, without the State of Oregon indemnifying the company? And, wouldn’t this insurance, logically, be very expensive?
Let me give you a hypothetical. An ‘illegal’ is involved in a very serious accident to which he has been presumed liable. Let’s say this is a multi-million dollar suit involving someone left permanently paralyzed. In the meantime, said ‘illegal’ has returned to his country of origin and left his insurance company to defend a case without the insured being present. Trust me. Insurance companies consider these potential circumstances and charge premiums accordingly.
Answer: The State of Oregon will have to make certain guarantees to indemnify insurance companies or those companies will not insure ‘illegals.’ And, as a result, if you’re still with me, you will already have guessed who ultimately will pay the multi-million dollar judgment, the Oregon taxpayers.
Tuesday, October 21, 2014
OK, let’s get serious. You don’t seriously believe, do you, that Governor Kitzhaber (age 67) did not know about the past history of Cylvia Hayes (age 47), his long-time girlfriend and recent fiancée? Come on, Kitzhaber is an educated man, an apparently sophisticated man, surrounded by advisors; and nobody, including the Governor, thought to check into Cylvia’s background: her past marriages, her allegedly illegal marijuana grow operation, etc., etc.
Doesn’t this sound a little like the Neil Goldschmidt cover-up? Neil, our past and possibly our most infamous Governor, molested a young girl over a period of time. But, those around him who would have known, or suspected what was occurring, kept quiet. Yes, unfortunately, that’s professional politics ladies and gentlemen. And, when these little indiscretions surface, everybody denies knowledge or extends a weepy apology with the expectation that all will be forgiven. Are we that gullible? Answer: yes. Kitzhaber, the Democrat, supported by the public employee unions, minorities, abortion advocates, recreational marijuana advocates and the generally uninformed, will win re-election in a walk.
Hayes took $5000, in 1997, to participate in a sham marriage to an Ethiopian immigrant – allowing him permanent residency in the U.S. Hayes’ action was a Federal felony. She was never prosecuted because the information, reportedly, just recently surfaced. Hayes made a tearful confession for the media saying that Kitzhaber never knew about the previous marriage. Yes, of course he didn’t.
Another recent report discovered that she was involved with a “dangerous man” (her words) in an intended marijuana grow operation in Washington – if discovered, at the time, another potential felony.
And, then, of course, there have been complaints to the Oregon Government Ethics Commission that Hayes has used her close association with the Governor to further her own questionable career. Complaints which, to no one’s particular surprise, were largely determined to be unfounded.
What is that saying? ‘Birds of a feather flock together.’
Monday, October 20, 2014
Bear with me. I will get back to my blog theme very shortly. Today, however, I had some outdoor projects to work on. My sidekick, Watson, kept busy trying to unearth a mole. However, no luck. As you can see, his bath was to follow.
Thursday, October 16, 2014
Wednesday, October 8, 2014
When I was in corporate security with a major company, I was having dinner with one of the company’s facility managers. Nice guy. He was asking me about my previous experience in the FBI; and the topic of Margo St. James and prostitution came up. He said that he wanted to ask me something – kind of personal.
He went on to say that his wife had, for the most part, lost interest in sex – and, in fact, she never had much interest, although they had conceived two children together. He said that about every six months he and his wife would drive to Nevada and visit the casinos. In addition, they would usually take a drive to one of the adjacent counties where prostitution is legal; and visit a business like the Mustang Ranch. While his wife read a book in the car, he would go inside and hire a prostitute. He asked me if I thought this was weird. Although at the time I did think that our conversation had taken an odd turn, and that it was really more than I cared to know about his personal life, I responded: “No, not at all.” And, I was being truthful. If that arrangement was fine with his wife, why would or should anyone else care?
And, why is most of the public, apparently, against prostitution (sex exchanged for money), when it’s all around us in various guises? I’m really not quite sure. Let’s be clear. I’m not referring to pimping, violence or exploiting minors. I’m talking about two consenting adults.
Oregon law reads as follows:
A person commits the crime of prostitution if the person engages in, or offers or agrees to engage in, sexual conduct or sexual contact in return for a fee.
Patronizing a prostitute
A person commits the crime of patronizing a prostitute if the person pays, or offers or agrees to pay, a fee to engage in sexual conduct or sexual contact.
Both are misdemeanors under Oregon law.
Pretty straightforward description of what constitutes the crime of ‘prostitution’ and ‘patronizing a prostitute,’ isn’t it? And, I might add, it’s very cleverly worded. If, for example, you were to remove the word ‘fee’ and replace it with the word ‘money’ or ‘gratuity’: well, you can see the problems that might jump out. You would have opened Pandora’s Box. This could then apply to many marriages, cohabitating couples, girlfriends and ‘one-night-stands.’ Unless the woman, in such a relationship, could prove that she was self-supporting or did not actually have sex with her partner, paramour or date; and if the more intimate circumstances were to become known, than we might have a prima facie case for prostitution.
Said law, ambiguous at best, victimless perhaps, begs the question; don’t our law enforcement agencies have something better to occupy their time?
The folks in Tigard should pose that question to the Chief of Police.
Tigard, Oregon Police Make Major Prostitution Bust!
Everyone is Wrong
Margo St. James / COYOTE
Everyone is Wrong
Margo St. James / COYOTE
Sunday, October 5, 2014
This post is a continuation of my post of 9/29/14 (Prostitution / Everyone Has an Opinion / Everyone is Wrong).
Margo St. James was the principal organizer of COYOTE (Call Off Your Old Tired Ethics); which was considered to be, in late 70s San Francisco, to be the prostitutes’ union (association).
I was an FBI Special Agent assigned to the Organized Crime Squad in San Francisco. The Bureau, at the time, expected all Agents to cultivate ‘sources’ that potentially could have information of value to the FBI. It was actually more than an expectation. Part of an Agent’s performance evaluation was based on his ability to establish mission-related sources-of-information in the local community or the state. Margo was something of a Bay Area celebrity with potentially all kinds of contacts, some with possible criminal connections. I decided that I would attempt to meet her.
I read everything I could find on Margo St. James relating to her background, her current activities, and her expressed opinions. Having committed much of that information to memory, I approached her at the offices of COYOTE. I showed her my credentials and introduced myself. I had brought with me photos of missing women and girls – a pretext of sorts. San Francisco, in those days, was a magnet for girls and young women. Pimps often roamed the bus terminals looking for runaways and naïve young women seeking the hippy lifestyle. And, as might be expected, many young women simply disappeared; and more than a few ended-up as Jane Does in the local morgues. When I first contacted Margo, she seemed receptive to talking – apparently curious as to what I was doing there. From that initial contact, a somewhat friendly relationship gradually evolved.
As was customary (required in the Bureau), I formally opened a file on Margo as a potential source. This allowed me some protection against compromise, as well as allowed me to buy her lunch on a few occasions – at Bureau expense. It should be understood that I never paid Margo as an informant, nor would she have expected that.
Our meetings, unbeknownst to Margo, were monitored. For example, another Agent was always in close proximity when I took Margo to lunch. When I visited her, the other Agent waited discreetly outside, monitoring my demeanor when I entered her offices, how long I was in there, and my demeanor when I came out. Margo would not have been above compromising an FBI Agent – and everything was done to prevent that possibility. She once asked me if I wanted to meet ‘a woman.’ “Just describe her,” she said. “And I’ll have her here in thirty minutes.” Was she serious? She appeared to be. Although, I think her comment was meant more as a test than an actual offer. If I had showed the slightest interest in meeting a ‘working girl,’ she probably would have quickly written me off as just one more sleazy cop on the ‘make.’ In her extensive career, I’m sure that she had met a few. However, I made it clear that she was the one I wanted to talk to; and she ultimately accepted that arrangement. In retrospect, I think that she welcomed, for what it’s worth, the possibility of having a perceived contact (a source) in the Bureau.
What was Margo St. James like? It’s hard to describe. She was intelligent, articulate, interesting, bizarre, outlandish, outspoken, profane and obscene. Everything I expected her to be, and then some. No longer, at that point, a practicing prostitute (to my knowledge), she described her early years, often plying her trade dressed as a Catholic nun. Apparently, according to her, this had a particular appeal to many Catholic men.
Unfortunately, our relationship ended when, under The Freedom of Information Act, she requested any information the Bureau might possess on her. Ridiculous as this might sound, the Bureau told her that she was currently a ‘source’ of Special Agent Nelson. Upon learning this information, she called me and chewed-me-out, telling me in no uncertain terms that she wanted no further contacts with me. That ended our relationship.
About a year after that, I resigned from the Bureau to pursue other endeavors.
I have sometimes wondered if I owed Margo an apology. The status, as a ‘Bureau source,’ to which she strongly stated her objection, must have smarted just a bit. It was, nonetheless, the only way I could justify my association with her; and, furthermore, allow me to discuss with her the many subjects that often had more to do with the protection of prostitutes and young women from criminality, rather than the criminality of prostitution. Prostitution can be a dangerous, dirty business, a magnet for crime and criminals; and it is especially dangerous for young women or girls unfamiliar with all the aspects of the prostitution business. In some respects, Margo and I had similar goals. Anyway, in her own way, she was quite the educator.
Regarding FBI ‘sources’ or ‘informants,’ many might have a misconception as to how that works. The FBI’s philosophy, at the time, was to have their Agents get out of the office, get into the local community and cultivate contacts. Some might believe that the FBI only developed relationships with members of organizations like the Mafia or the Hell’s Angels. This is, of course, sometimes possible and desirable, but very rare. In attempting to gain information about Mafia members’ activities or movements, an Agent might want to build a relationship with someone close to a Mafia member, such as someone in his family or someone who works in a restaurant he owns where money laundering was suspected. With the Hell’s Angels, who in the 70s were considered to be involved in several variations of organized crime, someone who worked on their motorcycles might be a good source. How so? Well, a motorcycle mechanic could furnish you names, information on leadership, banking information, club member personalities, etc.
As far as someone like Margo is concerned, it was a given that participants in criminal activities also frequented prostitutes. For the Mafia, it was one of their passions.
Anyway, during the period that I knew her, she never gave me any information that directly related to my cases, or organized crime with any specificity. I came to doubt she knew much about that sort of thing. We did, occasionally, discuss lost or missing girls. We discussed the prostitution business, and the reasons some women and some men enter that business. When talking about adults, who are not coerced in some manner to enter prostitution, Margo’s description of the business was fairly straightforward and matter-of-fact. Some women like the trade, but most are there for the money. She did, nonetheless, acknowledge the many dangers involved.
To be continued…
Monday, September 29, 2014
Money for sex – a bad thing – I’m not sure. I suppose it depends on the circumstances. In some instances, many might even consider marriage a form of prostitution; a ubiquitous form of prostitution which was undoubtedly more prevalent a generation or two back. Sex for security: Isn’t security a synonym for money?
Currently, we have a society where the very rich use prostitutes and even sometimes brag about it: athletes, actors, business tycoons. Consider for a moment Hugh Hefner (Playboy Enterprises) who has cohabitated with a bevy of beautiful women (often several at the same time), aka trophy wives, girlfriends or partners. A form of prostitution, I think so. And, Charlie Sheen who has openly discussed his many dalliances with women who love you more and with more vigor if you have considerable resources. “A rose by any other name…”
However, the ‘Common Joe’ is expected to walk a fine line. Obey the laws. However, if, when and how those laws will be enforced is anyone’s guess? In contrast, for those who are not students of the law, some crimes are self-evident like murder, burglary or car theft. A five-year-old understands that you don’t do those things; and, if you do, you will very likely be punished.
The crime of prostitution or soliciting for prostitution, on the other hand, is more obscure. As I’ve mentioned before, sometimes you have to stretch the imagination to define the crime, determine the victim or the perpetrator, as well as ascertain the genesis of the crime (mens rea). Is it the man (or sometimes the woman) who is interested in paying someone for sex? Is it the woman who voluntarily makes herself available to exchange money for sex? Is it the man who forces a woman or convinces a woman to prostitute herself? Or is it, perhaps, the police agency that creates a fictitious scenario to entice the unwary or the unsophisticated to participate in a crime like soliciting prostitution?
As an aside, there is a famous quote attributed to Winston Churchill, or was he paraphrasing George Bernard Shaw:
Churchill: "Madam, would you sleep with me for five million pounds?"
Socialite: "My goodness, Mr. Churchill... Well, I suppose... we would have to discuss terms, of course... "
Churchill: "Would you sleep with me for five pounds?"
Socialite: "Mr. Churchill, what kind of woman do you think I am?"
Churchill: "Madam, we've already established that. Now we are haggling about the price”
But, as promised, I planned to talk a bit about my personal experience with prostitution.
In the later 70s, I was a Special Agent with the FBI and stationed in San Francisco. I was on the Organized Crime Squad. The sexual revolution was in full bloom, especially in the Bay Area. A significant organizer and player in the prostitution industry was a woman named Margo St. James. Margo, a former prostitute, founded the organization COYOTE (Call Off Your Old Tired Ethics).
Margo turned out to be one of the more interesting people that I’ve ever met. And, for a brief period, one might even say that we were friends.
To be continued…