Denver, CO vs Canton, OH

Denver, CO and Canton, OH both had great entries in the "Cops Gone Wild" category.

Denver was a strong contender with this one:
A Denver police officer fired for driving 88 mph above the speed limit while intoxicated has appealed his dismissal, arguing that the penalty is unfair and overly harsh.

Derrick Curtis Saunders, who had previously been cleared of charges he pointed a gun at a McDonald's employee in 2009, was arrested for speeding and DUI by the Colorado State Patrol. He couldn't be reached for comment Wednesday.

Saunders was traveling 143 mph in a 55-mph zone on June 17, 2010, according to the order terminating him, issued by Manager of Safety Alex Martinez on Dec. 7.

Source: Denver Post

Canton brought out their big guns with Officer Harless :
Officer Daniel Harless, who is currently under investigation for threatening to execute a concealed handgun license-holder during a traffic stop, and for a separate incident in which he threatened to send the suspects "to the grave" if they moved, adding, "I will shoot you in the face and I'll go to sleep tonight," is now also under investigation for a THIRD incident which was also caught on tape.

Source: Buckeye Firearms Association

So, to summarize:

Denver - a Denver cop drives drunk at a massively high speed (143 mph in a 55 mph zone) and gets fired, sentenced to five days in jail, fined $300 and ordered to perform 100 hours of community service. Seems a bit lenient to me, but at least it was some form of punishment.

Canton - a Canton cop threatens to execute people on THREE separate occasions and gets to keep his job while awaiting the results of a "hearing" and the only reason the hearing even happened is because of the publicity surrounding the THIRD incident. Had that youtube video not gone viral, it's likely that Canton would have swept this under the rug AGAIN.

So, what's the lesson we learned? If you're a supreme, power-mad asshole of the highest order who threatens to beat, torture, and execute a man ON CAMERA (like Officer Harless), then you should choose the Canton, OH police department over the Denver, CO police department.

Big Week for Officer Harless ... Maybe

Looks like Officer Daniel Harless, a Canton Ohio police officer, may FINALLY get his disciplinary hearing. Buckeye Firearms reports that, after being postponed several times, it is currently scheduled for December 15th. The reason for previous postponements? He's on sick leave due to a PTSD disability.

As I've said before, Officer Harless is a supreme, power-mad asshole of the highest order who threatens to beat, torture, and execute a man ON CAMERA. He's the one making threats like this:
I swear to God this little bull crap you pulled has me so hot. You know what I should have done? I tell you what I should have done. As soon as I saw your gun I shoulda taken two steps back, pulled my Glock 40, and just put ten bullets in your ass and let you drop. And I wouldn't of lost any sleep. Do you understand me? And he would have been a nice witness as I executed you because you're stupid.

- Buckeye Firearms article
- YouTube video of the incident
Officer Harless should be jailed for threatening and intimidating someone as an officer of the law. At the very least, he should be fired and never employed as a police officer again. Of course, that's what should have happened the last time Officer Harless went nuclear on the job. Good luck, Canton Ohio. Hopefully the thin blue line won't sweep this one under rug ... again. And hopefully Allen Schulman has stopped crying in his wheaties.

Occupy Pittsburgh: Finally Jumped the Shark

It's official. The Occupy Pittsburgh movement has jumped the shark. According to today's Post-Gazette, Occupy Pittsburgh vows to seize and rename Mellon Green.
Organizers of the Occupy Pittsburgh tent encampment said today they are "seizing" the BNY Mellon's privately owned park in Downtown, will rename it "People's Park," and will serve BNY Mellon with an eviction notice Monday.
Ken Miller, 38, of the North Side, said he expects occupiers will win their fight in court

So, BNY Mellon gives the Occupy Pittsburgh permission to use the privately owned park, Mellon Green, as long as the protesters weren't disruptive and didn't damage the park. After several months of "occupation," the permission has been rescinded and the protesters were told to leave by noon today. And, like the spoiled brats they appear to be, they're refusing to leave and plan on filing an eviction notice against BNY Mellon? The inmates truly are running the asylum.

I've watched the Occupy "movement" grow from its infancy and chuckled as it's continued to make a mockery of itself. I even agree (to some extent) with one of the messages they speak about: I would love to see corporations lose the massive influence they have in Washington. We differ in that the Occupy movement doesn't mind lobbying in general, they just want a different group of people doing it. I, on the other hand, want all the parasites out of Washington - corporate and union, private and public.

But seriously, evicting a company from their own property? I'll start making the popcorn.

Senator Casey (D - Moronic)

Senator wants accounting from US Airways on Philly fares
U.S. Sen. Bob Casey has sent a letter to US Airways objecting to the upcoming increase in the cost of flights from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia.

The Post-Gazette reported Tuesday that when Southwest Airlines drops its flights between the two cities next month, the price for a US Airways round-trip ticket will increase from $118 plus taxes to $698 plus taxes. US Airways would be the only airline operating direct flights between the cities.
Mr. Casey asked the airline to provide him with regular updates on the impact the increase would have on Pennsylvania travelers.
Maybe US Airways has been pricing flights way below cost just to stay competitive with Southwest. Maybe now US Airways is just raising rates to finally cover the cost of carrying passengers from Pittsburgh to Philly. Maybe it's just the opposite and US Airways sees an opportunity to screw over its potential customers and charge them way more than they need to charge. I really don't care! They're able to do so in a free market and they'll have to suffer the consequences, whether they deserve them or not.

I'm really not sure how in the hell this is any of Senator Casey's business. And I'm not really sure where he thinks he has the authority to "request regular updates."

If only Senator Casey was as concerned with what the government's policies are doing to drive up the unavoidable costs of living - food, gas, energy - as he is with how much an airline is charging someone to avoid a simple five hour drive.

Allen Schulman, Canton City Council President, is unclear on the concept

Allen Schulman, President of the City Council of Canton, OH, cries in his Wheaties. He's unhappy that one of Canton's police officers, Daniel Harless, was caught on camera threatening a man, numerous times, with death and serious injury. Officer Harless informs the man that he should have stepped back, drawn his gun, and put ten rounds in the guy. He goes on to say that he would have executed the man and slept soundly that night. All of this while being filmed by the camera in his own patrol car.

Let me say this again: Officer Harless, a supreme, power-mad asshole of the highest order, threatens to beat, torture, and execute a man ON CAMERA. And, as these sort of videos are prone to do, the dash cam video went viral, bringing well-earned shame and ridicule down upon the town of Canton, the police department, and Officer Daniel Harless.

One would think that Allen Schulman, the President of the Canton, OH City Council, would be angry and outspoken after this incident. And you would be correct! However, Council President Allen Schulman is NOT speaking out against Officer Daniel Harless nor his behavior. He's angry that people from outside of Canton have been calling him to complain about Officer Harless and his atrocious, criminal behavior.

I'm sorry Allen Schulman, but having a Canton mailing address and voter registration is not a requirement to observe and be outraged at the behavior of a psychopath such as Officer Daniel Harless. Rather than stand up, acknowledge, and condemn the outrageous behavior of one of your town's officers, you've chosen to circle the wagons and attempt to divert attention away from Officer Harless by whining and complaining about the very people with whom you should be agreeing.

I'll take 'Will cause an increase in false arrests' for $400, Alex

U.S. Appeals Court: OK to check DNA of those arrested
In an 8-6 ruling, the circuit judges found that people who are arrested have "a diminished expectation of privacy in their identities." Outweighing their privacy, they found, is the importance to law enforcement of correctly identifying people who are charged with crimes, determining their criminal history, potentially linking them to unsolved crimes and promptly ruling out involvement in a crime in cases in which the DNA does not match that found at the scene.
So the cops get to take your DNA in order to increase the speed of investigations and to "potentially" link you to unsolved crimes. All for simply being arrested. It's a good thing the cops never falsely arrest anyone for nefarious reasons.

Am I right, David Briddle? Oscar Mendoza? William Bartlett?

I'll take 'Best way to run a business' for $200, Alex

In Thursday's Post-Gazette: Liquor store privatization hits major roadblock
Talking to reporters this afternoon, Senate President Pro Tem Joe Scarnati was critical of the current plan from House Majority Leader Mike Turzai to auction off licenses for the stores.

Mr. Scarnati, of Jefferson, questioned whether the state would be getting the most profit possible in that sale, given what he sees as constraints on the profitability of those stores.

"I don't think that we have allowed the Liquor Control Board to run like a business," he said. "We're the ones with the handcuffs on them, and then we're out there saying, 'Well, this is an archaic, terrible system and doesn't work.' Well, take the handcuffs off of them, get the bottom line better, and you'll get a better price."

He suggested allowing those stores more flexibility in pricing, based on the product and geography, as initial reforms.
I'm going to suggest, Mr. Scarnati, that the best way to let it run like a business is to let it be run BY a business. Let's ignore, for a minute, the fact that the state government should not even BE in the liquor store business. Does anyone think it's a bad idea to have the same Board that is tasked with enforcing liquor laws and reducing liquor consumption also be the Board that is tasked with running alcohol sales like a business?

Pennsylvania has some of the most backward and archaic laws regarding alcohol out of any of the states in the country. Let's work on getting the government out of the sales business once and for all.

TSA: Incompetence Redefined (Yet Again)

Authorities Investigate Stun Gun Found on JetBlue Plane
An image of the Striker 1800 stun gun was obtained by Fox 5 News. It was found by a cleaning crew inside the back pocket of a seat on board Jet Blue flight 1179.

The plane had just arrived from Boston and all of the passengers were off of the plane when it was found.
I'd say that the incompetence of the TSA is stunning. But they fail so often and so easily that it's really just a mundane story. I'm guessing they were too busy searching the underwear of wheelchair-bound grandmothers and feeling up six-year-olds.

It almost seems like they're being a bunch of ass-clowns on purpose - considering the "security" they provide is just badly-produced security theater, that's not surprising.

I do not think that means what you think it means ...

LTE in July 5, 2011 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Kids need to be protected from video trash

Our Supreme Court ought to be ashamed of the latest decision it made about video games ("Supreme Court Strikes Violent Video Game Restrictions," June 28).

Is it no wonder many countries are so totally against our values when it comes to TV shows and music and want to ban our influence from their citizens? I wish we could ban so much of the trash that is available for our children in this country.

It is said that we should rely on parents to examine and decide what their children should or should not view. Some parents will. But who helps and guides those children in homes where there is little apparent supervision and children are left to continue to make harmful decisions?

Yes, I understand the argument about freedom of speech and such, but historically when folks lobby long and strong enough (money talks), some considerations of freedoms fall to the wayside.

Come on, USA, how about instead of choosing to pour more and more money into the video industry, we choose what is best for our children and, for once, just once, decide on the side of our youth?

Observatory Hill

Wow. Ok, Joyce, which is it? Are we banning things or are we allowing people to choose? Or are a small group of people choosing to ban something for everyone?

I'll be the first to agree that much of the "entertainment" that is produced in this country is utter crap. It's mindless nonsense designed to remove the need for logical and rational thought. And to sell advertising. And, as much as I wish for that nonsense to not be available, I am completely and totally against having the government force that to be the case. Down that road lies only danger.

And I'm not sure where you're getting the idea that other countries are "so totally against our values when it comes to TV shows and music and want to ban our influence from their citizens" - have you seen some of the nonsense that comes out of just about every European country? Japan? The Middle East? We have no monopoly on violence, sex, or stupidity.

It's easy to ask the government to do your job for you. It's much more difficult when you actually have to be the one to say No and set a good example. Your request for the government to ban something you don't like is the kind of behavior you decry in your letter: "But who helps and guides those children in homes where there is little apparent supervision and children are left to continue to make harmful decisions?" By outsourcing your parental responsibilities to the government, you're no longer guiding the children and they're certainly not getting any lessons about how to make good decisions. All you're doing is freeing up more time to watch So You Think You Can Dancing with the American Idols Got Talent.

No thank you. As a father of two, I think I'm more capable of successfully raising my children and being a better role model for them than some faceless bureaucrat.

Mother Nature Has Rights Too!

I honestly don't even know what to say to this. Only two things come to mind:
  2. Are you fucking kidding me?
LTE: A planet's rights
A planet's rights

The June 20 article "Defending Mother Earth" reports on the Bolivian president and Parliament passing a "Bill of Rights for Mother Nature." But this is only the first step in a process of getting the United Nations to make a Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth. In Cochabamba, Bolivia, during the World People's Conference on Climate Change in April, Bolivia and other Third World countries passed a resolution to move the process to the world forum at the United Nations.

The PG article quotes "local stakeholders" such as Matt Pitzarella of Range Resources, who states that the Bolivian policy "is a little out there." Also quoted is Joe Osborne, who states that "the practical effects will probably not be very significant."

My opinion, however, is that this is a development of monumental significance for humanity and the planet. Further, the passing of such a universal declaration is well nigh a necessity if the planet is to be saved from the depredation enshrined in our economic and social policies. It is possible to dismiss this movement as rhetoric, but could one not say the same of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations in 1947? But in the aftermath of that declaration came the decolonization of the world, the civil rights movement and the feminist movement, to name just a few of its profound effects.

To get a perspective other than the kind of voices quoted in the article, the Thomas Merton Center is bringing to Pittsburgh on Nov. 3 Vandana Shiva of India, one of the pioneers for the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth. She will be receiving the annual Thomas Merton Award and giving this movement a jump start in Pittsburgh.


The writer is a board member of the Thomas Merton Center.
Props to Matt Pitzarella for the understatement of the day.