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WHY OBAMA MUST NOT BE ELECTED

Like most cops, I spent the majority of my career discerning truth from fiction. After a while, you get pretty good at it. Folks who work in the field of criminal justice deal with liars every day and develop a strong scent for deceit. It’s part of the job.

Such provides, in my opinion, an advantage in deciding who to vote for in a major election. Those of us in career law enforcement and other justice jobs, tend to weigh evidence, and not be guided by impressions and eloquent oratory. What’s most important is the sum of evidence, not one or two items by themselves, but the whole.

We live in a time of hype and idolatry spawned by media sensationalism. It trumps common sense. Evidence meant nothing in the O.J. Simpson trial. The jury was swayed by the aura of celebrity and charisma, not by an amalgamation of facts which pointed toward his guilt. Five months of listening to testimony took a back seat to sound bytes, like, “If the glove don’t fit, you gotta acquit.” Blinded by awe, the jury disregarded solid evidence and voted in favor of the killer.

Mind boggling.

The mayor of Washington D.C. was …

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Never Too Late To Say Thanks

You never know.

Small gestures of the past may resurface one day and bring gratitude when you least expect it.

Library booktalks have brought me through five states, from Knoxville, Tennessee to Key West, Florida, and hundreds of meeting rooms and auditoriums. As they say in show biz — it’s my schtick, a fun gig that has paid off in more ways than one.

On occasion, I will spot a face in the audience from an early era of my life, an old police crony, a high school chum, an old girl friend, a former adversary, or some obscure soul upon whom I made a mark and never knew it. Last year, a long lost relative showed up at an Asheville library, one who I had never met.

Clearwater, Florida. 2004. The crowd was disappointingly small. As folks ambled in, they were surprised to see an older curly-haired fellow playing gypsy songs on a violin as he wandered around the room. “Are we in the wrong place?” a woman asked of the host.

“Oh, no. That’s the author. Have a seat,” replied the librarian.

The audience was attentive and lively as I embarked on my dissertation. One fellow sitting in …

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THE POWER OF LOVE

Now that more than six years have passed, the tragedy of 9/11 has become old news. It’s off the charts, a memory only to those who are already in high school. We have moved on to more important issues in the election year: Health care, education, immigration, social security and, of course, the wars overseas. We think of 9/11 now, more like we think about Pearl Harbor, a day that will live in infamy, but not in our daily lives.

To me, the memory lingers as though it was yesterday. I was flying over the Atlantic when the terrorist planes struck the World Trade Center. One second, I was comfortably writing a letter in seat 26A of a British Airways flight from London to Charlotte, and then next second, the pilot was telling us all that we were being diverted, and our plane was to land in some remote place called Moncton, New Brunswick. Moncton, New Brunswick?

     My world changed in an instance. Totally confused, the first thought that came to mind, was trying to reach my wife. I didn’t understand why I had suddenly lost control over my life and the only thing that was important now, was my …

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THE TWELVE BEST HAPPENINGS OF 2007

On the 27th of this month, I published the Worst Happenings of 2007. Now, it’s time to think positive. I know, nobody asked, but here goes.

* Regardless of one’s position on the Iraq war, there is no argument that the change in strategy and in leadership has produced positive results, with American deaths down from 121 in the month of May, to sixteen thus far in December, albeit sixteen too many. The rising outrage of Sunni and Shiia citizens within Iraq has led to revolt against al Qaeda, thus giving us hope for an end to the conflict in the near future.

* Long overdue resignations of Bush lackies, Karl Rove, Alberto Gonzalez and Donald Rumsfeld, all positive changes that will provide more confidence from Americans in the remaining year GWB is in office.

* Abortions in the U.S. have dropped to under 1.3 million, the lowest since Roe v. Wade in 1973. All this, as a result of more education and treatment, without enacting new and unnecessary laws banning abortions which would give rise to a black market.

* Teenage substance abuse. According to the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, teenagers are drinking less and …

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THE TWELVE WORST HAPPENINGS OF 2007

I know. Nobody asked. But here is my list of the worst happenings of 2007.

* Over 900 American heroes brought home in flag-draped caskets, (bringing the war total to 3,900) plus another 3,000 blind, legless, armless or otherwise maimed for life. This tragedy, from a war even more controversial than Viet Nam, where so many scholars from both sides of the aisle tell us how an administration cherry-picked and manipulated intelligence to justify the unjustifiable.

* Osama Bin Laden remains at large and powerful as ever. This, more than six years after the 9/11 attacks on the shores of the United States. Yet, we spent fifty times as much in lives, money and military resources going after another depot who did not attack America.

* The presidential campaign. Countries like Canada and the UK dedicate four to eight weeks on a political campaign. In the U.S., with the primary system, the presidential campaign is a drawn-out, two-year, media-driven horse race with a new poll virtually every day.

* The debates. Dumb questions take up the time that should be allotted for more important issues. “What does America mean to you?” Please. “Do you accept the Bible as truth?” Would …

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ANTI-GAY BIGOTRY IS ALIVE AND WELL

“AIDS is not just God’s punishment for homosexuals; it is God’s punishment for the society that tolerates homosexuals.”

— Rev. Jerry Falwell, Christian evangelist

Remember when a gay caballero was defined as a happy Spaniard? Today, if you told a Miami Cuban he was gay, you might be peering down the bore of a .380 Barretta semi-automatic. Tune in to the nostalgia channel sometime and listen to the dialogue in movies of the 1930’s, Fred Astaire or Claudette Colbert exclaiming, “Oh, they had a gay time at the party.” Imagine your spouse hearing about your gay time at the office party?

The modern era has arrived. Being “gay” is now irreversibly defined. So has the omnipresence of gays in all walks of society, which some folks don’t like very much.

“The New York Times and Washington Post are both infested with homosexuals themselves. Just about every person down there is a homosexual or lesbian.”

— Jesse Helms, former U.S. Senator (deceased)

Securing the basic rights of all Americans has been the cornerstone achievement of the twentieth century. Yet, bigots still claim that traditional values of family and decency are being violated. When racial segregation was effectively banished, and women …

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A MEMORABLE CHRISTMAS SMILE

I strolled around the church antechamber playing Broadway tunes, Christmas Carols and Patriotic songs on violin while my friend, Jay, accompanied on piano. The folks all sat facing us in a semi-circle, singing along, clapping, laughing at my antics. Twas a marvelous feeling for the two of us, to bring an hour of music and joy to the seniors of a day care center.

I announced that Jay Barnhart and I had retired from the field of criminal justice, he a medical examiner, me a homicide detective. Now in retirement, we are enjoying the gift of music that our parents instilled into us. They roared when they heard our new tag line: The Dick-Doc Duo. (I didn’t tell them our other nickname: Bag ‘em and Tag ‘em.)

As various tunes were played by heart and I roamed the room, my eyes often met theirs —one by one— winking, smiling. In one swift swoop, I let an upbow sling from my hand like a dart until it hit the floor. Laughter filled the room. My hips wiggled to strains of “If I Were A Rich Man,” and they laughed again.

One gentleman smiled broadly the entire hour. He seemed so robust …

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