Blagojevich Prosecution Has Roots in 2003 Hospital Permitting CaseSecret Tapes Helped Build Graft Cases In Illinois Hospital CEO Reported Shakedown, Wore Wire By Carrie Johnson and Kimberly Kindy Washington Post Staff Writers Monday, December 22, 2008
CHICAGO -- The wide-ranging public corruption probe that led to the arrest of Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich got its first big break when a grandmother of six walked into a breakfast meeting with shakedown artists wearing an FBI wire.
Pamela Meyer Davis had been trying to win approval from a state health planning board for an expansion of Edward Hospital, the facility she runs in a Chicago suburb, but she realized that the only way to prevail was to retain a politically connected construction company and a specific investment house. Instead of succumbing to those demands, she went to the FBI and U.S. Attorney Patrick J. Fitzgerald in late 2003 and agreed to secretly record conversations about the project.
Her tapes led investigators down a twisted path of corruption that over five years has ensnared a collection of behind-the-scenes figures in Illinois government, including Joseph Cari Jr., a former Democratic National Committee member, and disgraced businessman Antoin "Tony" Rezko.
On Dec. 9, that path wound up at the governor's doorstep. Another set of wiretaps suggested that Blagojevich was seeking to capitalize on the chance to fill the Senate seat just vacated by President-elect Barack Obama.
Many of the developments in Operation Board Games never attracted national headlines. They involved expert tactics in which prosecutors used threats of prosecution or prison time to flip bit players in a tangle of elaborate schemes that Fitzgerald has called pay-to-play "on steroids."
But now, Fitzgerald's patient strategy has led to uncomfortable questions not only for Blagojevich but also for the powerful players who privately negotiated with him, unaware that their conversations were being monitored. Democratic Rep. Jesse L. Jackson Jr. faces queries about his interest in the Senate seat, and key players in the Obama presidential transition team -- White House Chief of Staff-designate Rahm Emanuel and adviser Valerie Jarrett -- are being asked about their contacts with the governor on the important appointment.
A defiant Blagojevich has vowed to fight the charges. But the cozy nature of Illinois politics and the state's infamous record of corruption in both political parties suggest that Operation Board Games is far from over.
"We have a lot of information gained from a number of interviews and investigation over the years," Fitzgerald told reporters Dec. 9. "This is a moment of truth for Illinois. We have times when people decry corruption, and yet here we have a situation where there appear to be wide-ranging schemes where people are seeking to make people pay contributions to get contracts or appointments or do other stuff."
The sweep of the case has been surprising even to Meyer Davis, the hospital chief executive. "When I went to the authorities five years ago, I had no idea of the extent of the corruption and how high it reached in Illinois," she told The Washington Post by e-mail. "It's appalling that leaders entrusted with regulating health care have continued to abuse that trust."
Meyer Davis's hospital wasn't the only one with problems winning approvals from the state board that reviewed new projects for health-care facilities. The Chicago Medical School wanted a student housing project and found itself steered to the same construction and investment firms. Mercy Hospital faced similar obstacles. The board held up requests for open-heart surgical units and community clinics, and it seemed that a high price tag was attached to moving the board toward action.
At the center of the scheme was board member Stuart Levine, a prominent GOP fundraiser and businessman. Levine also courted Blagojevich, flying him to fundraisers in Texas and New York at which the governor collected more than $120,000 in campaign contributions. Levine held seats on the health facilities board and the teachers pension board, which controlled more than $41 billion in assets.
The conversations Meyer Davis helped record during her meeting at the Eggshell Cafe in suburban Deerfield allowed prosecutors to learn the tactics of Levine, who had cut deals with certain firms for a piece of their contracts.
Levine also had many connections. A telephone wiretap captured his discussions with Rezko, a fundraiser for Blagojevich and Obama, and several others who would become federal targets, according to lawyers who closely followed the trial testimony.
"Before they had Levine in the fold, they had his phone," said former public corruption prosecutor Patrick Collins. "They happened to get up on Levine's phone at a time when he was very active in his corrupt schemes."
Fitzgerald's office indicted Levine in 2005 on multiple fraud and extortion charges for his role in the state board schemes, securing along the way cooperation from the favored construction executive who had paid him kickbacks. But Levine's path to cooperation took 18 more months. Faced with wiretap recordings, Levine realized his legal situation was nearly hopeless, struck a plea bargain and became the star witness against Rezko.
"Levine was the guy who's given them everybody else," said Jay Stewart, executive director of the Chicago-based Better Government Association.
Rezko was an important catch. The multifaceted businessman with interests in real estate and pizza parlors became a gatekeeper to Blagojevich, advising him on appointments to boards and commissions. Obama, for example, acknowledged he had "formal discussions" with Rezko in 2003 when a close friend of Obama's, Eric Whitaker, emerged as a candidate for director of the Illinois Department of Public Health. The agency oversaw funding for the staff of the health facilities planning board, but Whitaker -- who served as the agency's director from 2003 to 2007 -- has not been implicated in the scandal. Whitaker has said he did not actively seek the job.
Rezko and Levine developed their pay-to-play scheme over a meal of strip steaks, red wine and vodka at the upscale Standard Club, just blocks from the federal courthouse in Chicago, according to court testimony.
Levine needed Rezko's help persuading Blagojevich to resist an effort to consolidate several state boards. In return, they agreed to divide kickbacks. Meanwhile, Levine pressured board consultants to give Blagojevich large campaign contributions in return for state business.
During Rezko's trial this year, his attorneys tried to discredit Levine, saying he had a $25,000-a-month drug habit and routinely gathered with five male friends at the Purple Hotel in suburban Lincolnwood to go on binges using LSD, cocaine, crystal meth and even an animal tranquilizer known as ketamine.
Jeffrey Steinback, an attorney for Levine, said, "I'm extremely fond of Stuart, and I am proud of the commitment he's made to cooperate, despite the personal cost."
The Path to Blagojevich
Throughout the Democratic presidential primaries, Rezko's trial on fraud, money-laundering and bribery charges offered a sobering picture of state business under the Blagojevich administration.
In a string of federal indictments, the governor had been cryptically referred to as "Public Official A," the recipient of large donations in return for favors. Despite the anonymity, Blagojevich had been unable to keep his name out of the spotlight. In January 2005, his father-in-law, Alderman Richard F. Mell, had accused one of the governor's top political aides, Christopher Kelly, of demanding $50,000 contributions to Blagojevich in exchange for appointments. The allegation, although withdrawn, spurred a state attorney general probe that eventually melded into Fitzgerald's investigation.
Prosecutors indicted Kelly last year on charges of tax fraud related to his gambling debts, and his attorneys signaled last week that he intends to plead guilty, possibly as early as January.
Another head rolled at the Illinois Finance Authority. Director Ali Ata, a former fundraiser for Blagojevich, signed a sworn statement in April describing how Rezko had shaken him down four times for a total of $125,000 in bribes and large campaign contributions.
At a meeting, Ata said, Blagojevich thanked him and then asked him about his desire to work in his administration.
"Mr. Blagojevich stated again I had been a supporter and a friend and asked Mr. Rezko if I'd identified job opportunities, and Mr. Rezko said, 'Yes,' " Ata testified in May during Rezko's trial.
After negotiating with Rezko, Ata testified, he bought a $127,000-a-year state job as the head of a state loan agency, the Illinois Finance Authority, which funded more than $5 billion in projects in fiscal 2008.
Wiretaps Broaden the Web
As the scandal evolved, Blagojevich played it cool, and last week he angrily told supporters he would fight for vindication. The Democrat was a congressman when he ran for governor in 2002, and he was elected with bold promises of ethics reform after his predecessor, Republican George Ryan, was indicted in a separate case. When Ryan was convicted in 2006, Blagojevich asserted that "government is supposed to exist for the good of the people, not the other way around, and certainly not for the personal enrichment of those who hold public office."
Blagojevich regularly reported to work not at the state mansion but at the Friends of Blagojevich campaign office near his home in the Ravenswood neighborhood on the city's North Side, with Rezko and a former congressional chief of staff, John Wyma, by his side.
As investigators moved in on Rezko, they inched closer to the governor. His wife, Patricia, did real estate deals with Rezko that also came under scrutiny. There were allegations that she won commissions on property sales as payback for the governor's appointments.
And then, for reasons that remain murky, Wyma in early October apparently began cooperating with Fitzgerald's team. Wyma, 42, once worked as chief of staff to some of Capitol Hill's leading Democratic voices, including Sen. Charles E. Schumer (N.Y.) and Rep. Bart Stupak (Mich.), as well as Blagojevich.
Wyma left Washington more than five years ago but remained a big donor to congressional campaigns and a lobbyist for such clients as Lehman Brothers, Philip Morris and Chicago's Children's Memorial Hospital, a key player in Blagojevich's effort to provide health care to impoverished children.
Even a children's hospital was not exempt from the pressure, according to recordings of Blagojevich's conversations with someone identified as "Individual A," thought to be Wyma.
Wyma had meetings with Blagojevich and the governor's brother in which he was exhorted to step up fundraising in advance of a new state ethics law to take effect in January, investigators said. The pressure to raise millions intensified on some of Wyma's clients, including Children's Memorial Hospital and highway contractors.
In a conversation taped by the FBI, Blagojevich threatened to hold up state funding for a Children's Hospital program unless its chief executive donated $50,000 to his campaign.
In court filings, prosecutors said "Individual A" was a subject but not a target of the criminal investigation into the health planning board. The government source is helping authorities because he hopes to win immunity from prosecution, the FBI affidavit said. Wyma has not been charged with wrongdoing.
"Mr. Wyma has made efforts to provide federal investigators with truthful information regarding the matters under investigation and will continue to do so," lawyer Zachary Fardon said.
The Blagojevich tapes opened yet another path for investigation, based on his alleged claims that he would sell Obama's Senate seat to the highest bidder. Fitzgerald has said he moved to arrest the governor and top aide, John Harris, because he feared that some of the schemes were about to be carried out.
Jackson, who is mentioned in court papers as a candidate eager for the Senate post, told reporters that he spoke with Wyma about his interest in the job this year. Unnamed "emissaries" for Jackson allegedly promised to raise $1.5 million for Blagojevich, according to the FBI affidavit.
Fitzgerald's team has scrambled to interview Jackson, as well as members of the Obama transition team who talked with Blagojevich about the appointment. A spokesman for Jackson said the lawmaker had told authorities about his tangle with Blagojevich, in which the congressman says the governor rejected Jackson's wife for a lottery post after Jackson failed to raise $25,000 for the Blagojevich campaign.
Lawyers and political analysts who have followed Operation Board Games and the work of Fitzgerald describe the government strategy as a textbook model. At his Dec. 9 news conference, for instance, the prosecutor all but invited victims and the perpetrators of shakedowns to come forward.
Kent Redfield, a political scientist at the University of Illinois, said Fitzgerald used indictments to pressure the governor's confidants to turn on one another.
"It's a message: You are in my sights, and I'd like to get you to come in and talk to me," Redfield said. "It puts pressure on the person you indicted and puts on notice the next person up the chain."
In seven years as U.S. attorney in Chicago, Fitzgerald generally has won strong reviews from government and defense lawyers alike. Obama is said to be considering keeping Fitzgerald in his job even though the coveted spots typically turn over with a new administration. But defense lawyers who have faced Fitzgerald say he can be hard-nosed when it comes to even small fish trapped in the government's net.
One former prosecutor who knew Fitzgerald 20 years ago, when the U.S. attorney was a junior defense lawyer, said he was zealous in pursuit of his goals and offended by violations of the public trust.
"His line between right and wrong is very bright, and it's very easy for him to see that line," the former prosecutor said. "If there's a brick wall, he'll take it down brick by brick."
Staff writer Joe Stephens, research editor Alice Crites and staff researcher Julie Tate contributed to this report.
This is just another example of how the "outfit" in Chicago runs the state, is absolutely corrupt and absolutely controls it's operatives. Those include Jesse Jackson Jr. and Barack Hussein Obama...
"We do not face a near-term liquidity issue, and we are not seeking short-term financial assistance from the government," Ford president and chief executive officer Alan Mulally said in a statement.
That's wonderful but...
WHY IN THE HECK DOES THE PRESIDENT THINK IT IS RIGHT TO TAKE MY MONEY TO GIVE TO A BUNCH OF OVERPAID NON-PRODUCERS IN MICHIGAN? ARE ALL MY YEARS OF LABOR OF NO ACCOUNT? WHAT ENTITLES THEM TO MY LABOR WITHOUT COMPENSATION?
¶ posted by Hobie 8:00 AM0 CommentsLinks to this post
Thursday, December 25, 2008
Merry Christmas!MERRY CHRISTMAS! I hope you'll be forever grateful for the gift of our savior as we celebrate his birth.
“You know, to think that we could affect weather all that much is pretty arrogant,” Myers said. “Mother Nature is so big, the world is so big, the oceans are so big – I think we’re going to die from a lack of fresh water or we’re going to die from ocean acidification before we die from global warming, for sure.”
I wonder how much time Mr. Myers has before he retires...
Petroleum Prices Stay LowPetroleum prices are still low, might stabilize below $40 a barrel, despite OPEC cutting production. Everyone involved has to be hurting to some degree. OPEC isn't getting revenue, Russia and Chavez are REALLY hurting, either because of the cuts or low prices. I'm betting that some will try to take advantage of others by actually increasing their production on the sly to make up for that shortfall.
Why has the price fallen? Because of the economic slow-down. Interestingly, gas prices are below the last big recession's prices. In 1981 I was paying $1.56 a gallon but that $1.56 then is equivalent to $3.72 now, about what I was paying three months ago. The $1.59 a gallon I paid yesterday would have been $.68 in 1981 and would have been very welcome then as it is now.
What is the effect of this? It is moderating the pain folks feel in not getting pay raises (unlike Congress) and perhaps making hunting a new job easier for those who've been laid off.
Thoughts on the Congressional Pay Raise
Congress has permitted their pay increase to take effect. They could stop it, but haven't. You might have to wait for a pay raise, maybe take a pay cut or even lose your job but the congressional elites have let their pay climb on up there. It isn't as if they have to pay for health care and such. So why? Because they or their predecessors set things up such that the pay goes up automatically.
Now it has been pointed out that the raise is 2.8% (an average of $4700)which is less than half of the Social Security cost of living adjustment. Doesn't matter. These folks are not producing for us and if you don't produce for your employers (and that is what we are to them) you don't get a raise.
Actually, Congress has increased unemployment by something like 3%, caused the DOW average to fall from 14,000+ to 8,500 (perhaps less or a little more as you read this), reduced the nation's net worth by $6-TRILLION (!), and committed over $4.5-TRILLION of OUR money to people who are failures at business! As far as I'm concerned Congress should be working for free. No, I take that back, perhaps if they'll just QUIT working, passing stupid, intrusive laws and stealing our money otherwise we'll go ahead and pay them to sit on their tuckus.
"Change" can happen...
I like this video of the 44 Presidents of the United States, one morphing into the next. Unfortunately the creator apparently thinks that changing skin color is really change. It isn't. Just as God and Martin Luther King taught us, it is the content of one's character, NOT the color of one's skin which is important. Anyway, here's the video, just because it is well done (in other words, good content overall).
William Ayers says he wasn't/isn't a terrorist...
Excuse me? Not a terrorist? This statement is demonstrative of the irrational view of the world these "educated" people have. These are, by the way, folks who will or have had a hand in educating your children or grandchildren. This really irritates me that Professor Ayers said,
"It's not terrorism because it doesn't target people, to kill or injure," Ayers said.
Title 22 of the United States Code, Section 2656f(d). That statute contains the following definitions:
The term "terrorism" means premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant (1) targets by subnational groups or clandestine agents, usually intended to influence an audience.
The term "international terrorism" means terrorism involving citizens or the territory of more than one country.
The term "terrorist group" means any group practicing, or that has significant subgroups that practice, international terrorism.
and popular definition both Professor Ayers and his wife Professor Dohrn are terrorists. Moreover, their actions did result in deaths. They are culpable. They either know and lie about it or are so deluded that they can't understand what they've done. What is more disturbing is the number of people who've given them a pass on this. Yes, that includes the presumptive President-Elect. It doesn't bode well for us that the next President of the United States doesn't know what a terrorist is.
Bada Bing... Here come Da Boyz.
Unless you have been living under a rock for the past week (or, more productively, out hunting up some meat for the winter) you have heard about how Illannoy Goobernor “Hot Rod Blagojevich” got himself arrested on a Federal Corruption/Fraud/Hubris complaint stemming from his trying to auction off Barry Obama's old Senate Throne.
Couldn't have happened to a nicer effing Tony Soprano Wannabe... who may just end up like Big Pussy.
See, for all of his pretensions at being a big-shot, Hot Rod was still nothing but a lowly capo for the real Boss, Capo dei Capi, Emperor Richie II, who may just decide that Hot Rod needs to go fishing if he won't kep his trap shut and take the fall.
Things are starting to fall into place now for people outside of the Daley Empire. They are actually starting to see (or willfully ignore) the connections & guys-behind-the-guys who keep these Urban Centers the most violent and unfree places in America.
It's like a bizarre game of “Six degrees of Separation” that stretches from Chicago to New York to DC and back.
Think I'm kidding? Try this on for size:
We know that Mayors Daley & Bloomberg are two of the most Anti Gunowner people in America – and are not above doing illegal – or at least cynically questionable – things to get their way.
With the “outing” of Jessie Jackass Jr. as Blago's “senate candidate #5”, "Marky" Mark Kirk is poised to be promoted to Barry-O's old Senate throne by Lt Gov. Pat Quinn – playing the “maverick populist” by keeping Daley's Machine nicely BiPartisan – keeping Illannoy's Bloomberg-approved anti gun owner policies unchallenged.
Richie, Bloomie, Tusker, Harris, Chucky, Dickie, Marky, JJ & Blago... (never mind Rahm & Barry...), all part of the same crew – the Big City Boyz – and their oft investigated protection/enforcer racket.
Never forget that “gun control” is about CONTROL – and that is the one thing these Tin Pot Dictators in the petty fiefdoms we call “Cities” are all about... even if the Capo dei Capi's bigmouth wiseguy has to drink from the bottom of the lake to make sure they keep expanding it.
President-elect Barack Obama’s chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, refused to take questions from reporters this morning about whether he was the Obama “advisor” named in the criminal complaint against Gov. Rod Blagojevich.
The complaint states Blagojevich wanted a promise of a high-level appointment or some other reward for Blagojevich in exchange for Blagojevich naming Obama’s friend Valerie Jarrett to replace him in the U.S. Senate.
Why would he be keeping this close to the vest? Because he IS the Obama advisor and because he DID know about the quid pro quo demands (which is why the Obama people knew that their "candidate" was not going to get the appointment). Obama has said that nobody on his staff was in anyway involved. So, is this another lie by Obama?
The thing is that Mr. Emmanuel could speak if he could do so without lying or impugning himself. Since he isn't speaking my bet is that he either hopes (or knows?) that his actual conversation(s) was not recorded or that he is hoping that the prosecutor will not see him as worthy of pursuit. He knows that he absolutely should not give the prosecutor anything with which to work.
So what does this mean for Obama? It means that he's another first. The first President-Elect to be involved in a scandal BEFORE inauguration. Bodes well for us doesn't it?...
Ammunition Coding - Follow the Money
The ammunition coding bills currently making their way through various state legislatures (and likely through the US Congress soon enough) are interesting for several reasons.
First, the idea of gun control via ammo control has existed for a long time. Oh, you can have your gun but we won't let you have ammo or we'll control how much you have. I know that in Columbia they control both. I doubt it has done anything to limit drug gangs, but, hey, if one child lives because of it... (oh wait, the ammo control won't be enforced until the brass is picked up AFTER the kid is dead... ummm....)
Second, the Heller Decision has given pause to at least some and made the ammo control angle seem to be the ticket here in the USofA. Pat Paulsen isn't a big name anymore but legislation has been proposed in many states this year.
However, the main impetus to this recent push might be the Ammo Coding System as they try to find a market for their technology. The advantage, as they see it, to marking the bullet base is that it isn't dependent on retrofitting or manufacturing changes in firearms. But there are problems with the system about which the company either does not care or deliberately avoids mentioning.
To begin, although a box of ammo might all be marked alike, it doesn't follow that packaging is without error. Protocols to ensure that will dramatically raise the cost of ammo. Also, though one might buy a box of ammo, there is nothing to say that during handling somebody in the chain of custody (and that is what it will become if you are to use coded ammo as evidence) could remove/mix/repackage ammo later used in a crime. Beyond that, all these schemes tack on draconian punishments for possession of unmarked ammunition to encourage the replacement of unmarked ammo with marked ammo. I have to wonder, if we can't enforce control over millions of firearms how will we do so over billions or trillions of rounds of existing ammunition? Clearly, implementation of this technology implies tremendous record keeping and enforcement costs and is a defacto prohibitive tax on gun ownership.
The company involved has done a lot of lobbying to promote this system and found a welcoming audience among the socialists. I believe that the only reason they are promoting this technology is to promote business. They would make a lot of money, that it costs the rest of us means nothing to them.
We oppose this legislation. It imposes a cost on gun owners who have current stocks of ammunition possession of which would be a criminal act after some yet to be set date. It imposes prohibitive costs on gun ownership. There is no way to make absolutely guarantee chain of custody even if only from manufacturer to consumer making use of it in court a moot point. The legislation promoting the system imposes life destroying punishment for mere possession of previously legal items. And all this would be done to deny liberty and freedom for reasons of profit and control.
Blue Ridge Arsenal - Owner Votes for Obama & Revels in Increased Sales
So, tell me that the owner of Blue Ridge Arsenal isn't a bloody, damn, self-serving, racist, idiot. He's black and apparently voted for Obama because he sees him as black. He's enjoying the increased sales due to fears the most anti-gun President-Elect ever will take our guns (by force if necessary) is driving people to buy guns. He stands there and smiles and jokes about it. He just doesn't get it.
Thanks to Snowflakes in Hell for this. I had no idea...
I have to admit that I had absolutely no idea just who the Plaxico Burress character was. Given the name alone I might have thought it was a processed food conglomerate. That is the extent of my ignorance and lack of concern of and for professional sports such as football.
Recently, Mr. Burress made several monumental mistakes in one 24-hour period. He decided to go to a club, in New York, wearing his "bling", and packing "heat". THEN he decided not to properly manage said "heat", shot himself, lied about his identity, and got others to lie for him (some friend he is). Did I mention this is all in New York? Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Burress will now pay for several counts of criminal stupidity. Yet another NFL player who wanted thought himself above the law, who believes his fame should give him a free ride the rest of us don't get, Mr. Burress is now a poster child for the very anti-gun Mayor Bloomberg and the pivot man for the anti-gun machinations inside the NFL.
As you might already know, Mayor Bloomberg was pretty much flummoxed in his attempt to prosecute gun dealers outside his jurisdiction for gun crime inside his jurisdiction and many of his allied mayors have gone to jail or are being prosecuted for criminal acts of their own. So now, he's decided to push to get every illegal gun user in NYC and make an example of them. (good timing Plaxico!)
The NFL, too, thinks that they can manage all their contracted players' off-time activities and rights by limiting or prohibiting things such as gun ownership.
The truth is that NFL players feel threatened. They are! They suffer criminal attack at a rate far above the "average" Joe. There's a reason for that. They have perceived incomes far above the "average" Joe. One of the reasons that they are perceived to be wealthy is that the few "stars" of the sport do get mega-millions from playing and endorsements. All seem to feel a need to display that wealth (or supposed wealth). Such targets are often too much to resist. Sean Taylor was shot (later dying from blood loss), in his home by professional thieves who had returned from an earlier burglary. This high profile case must certainly affect the judgement of all NFL players.
However, the NFL and some psuedo-spokespeople have indicated their stance. The NFL has a written policy
Guns and Weapons Policy (This policy applies to all employees of the NFL and its member clubs, including players.)Prohibitions
Whether possessed legally or illegally, guns and other weapons of any kind are dangerous. You and your family can easily be the losers if you carry or keep these items in your home. You must not possess these weapons while traveling on league-related business or whenever you are on the premises of the following:
* A facility owned, operated or being used by an NFL club (for example, training camp, dormitory, locker room, workout site, parking area, team bus, team plane, team hotel/motel);
* A stadium or any other venue being used for an NFL event (for example, a game, practice or promotion);
* A facility owned or operated by the NFL or any league company. Put simply, the league, the Players Association and law enforcement authorities urge you to recognize that you must not possess a gun or other weapon at any time you are performing any service for your team or the NFL.
In some circumstances, such as for sport or protection, you may legally possess a firearm or other weapon. However, we strongly recommend that you not do so. Any weapon, particularly a firearm, is dangerous, especially so when it is in a vehicle or within reach of children and others not properly trained in its use.
Understanding the Law
If you legally possess a weapon, you must understand the local, state and federal laws that apply. The NFL Security representative in your area will help you get information about these laws. You should be aware that if you take a weapon from one place to another, for example across state lines, a different set of laws may apply in the new place.
If you violate this policy on guns and other weapons, you are subject to discipline, including suspension from playing. And if you violate a public law covering weapons, for example possession of an unlicensed firearm, you are not only subject to discipline, including suspension from playing, but also subject to criminal prosecution.
Remember, be careful and understand the risks.
Although the statement
Whether possessed legally or illegally, guns and other weapons of any kind are dangerous.
betrays the league's bias, not all of the policy is over the top, notably "Understanding the Law".
Understanding the Law
If you legally possess a weapon, you must understand the local, state and federal laws that apply. The NFL Security representative in your area will help you get information about these laws. You should be aware that if you take a weapon from one place to another, for example across state lines, a different set of laws may apply in the new place.
We have to remember that not everyone knows that laws differ, place to place and that these players are often relatively young and in many ways other than sports, inexperienced. A little guidance might well be in order.
"This is all about priorities. When you get stature in life, you get the kind of contract, you have an obligation and responsibility to your teammates, to the organization, to the National Football League and to the fans. He just flaunted this money in their face. He has no respect for anybody but himself. I feel sorry for him, in the sense that, I don't understand the league, why can anybody have a gun? I will have a policy, no guns, any NFL players we find out, period, you're suspended."
We can also see here that NFL fans (which due to simple demographics are overwhelmingly urban dwellers) share the official NFL policy view
If you carry a gun around, you're more likely to hurt yourself than protect yourself.
I don't agree with Ditka or even the NFL, at least not completely with the NFL policy. The Constitution and the law (in most places) allow these people to own guns. I think they have every right to be able to defend themselves and their families from criminals. I would like to think that they would obey the law as we do. I would like to think that they wouldn't feel that they are somehow above the law, i.e. better than the rest of us. Certainly their prowess at a certain sport or their income doesn't give them such privileges, perhaps they feel their fame does. I don't think so.
I think we all need to obey the law, the NFL and Mike Ditka included, and learn some methods of avoiding conflict. Don't call unnecessary attention to oneself. Don't flash the "bling". Don't go out late at night to clubs. Hire a legal bodyguard or two if you must (that's a benefit of having all that money). Be smart. Know the law as well as your rights. Know how to manage your firearm with a proper holster, etc. Don't lie. Don't ruin your "friends" lives by asking them to lie for you. In short, grow up. If you don't you could end up like Plaxico Burress, Michael Vick, or any other number of self-centered, arrogant professional athletes. If you do, it won't be me mourning your loss.
The Capitol Visitors Center, which opened this morning, may have tripled its original budget and fallen years behind schedule, but Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid found a silver lining for members of Congress: tourists won't offend them with their B.O. anymore.
"My staff tells me not to say this, but I'm going to say it anyway," said Reid in his remarks. "In the summer because of the heat and high humidity, you could literally smell the tourists coming into the Capitol. It may be descriptive but it's true."
But it's no longer going to be true, noted Reid, thanks to the air conditioned, indoor space.
And that's not all. "We have many bathrooms here, as you can see," Reid continued. "Souvenirs are available."
$621 million well spent.
Yep, now if he can only get us to quit opposing him on all the dumb things he tries to do...
Will you concede your life to the state?
It is one thing for a soldier (and I include sailors, airmen and Marines in that) to risk his life for his country. It is quite another for a civilian to simply hand over his life to the state. Is that not what you do when you permit yourself to be disarmed by the state? Let me make this clear, choosing to be disarmed is one thing, being forcibly disarmed is another.
Some folks don't believe that citizens armed with pistols could have stopped the terrorists in Mumbai (formerly Bombay). Indeed Indian police, ostensibly armed police, could and did not do so. Instead, they awaited the arrival of para-military anti-terrorist forces. Consequently many additional people were killed and the terrorists got what the really wanted, longer intensive exposure on television around the world.
Jeanne Assam did this. She stopped a murderer armed with a rifle and she did it with a handgun. In this interview (hat tip to Breda for this link), she walks us through her remarkable action.
While armed citizens are a minority, they defend us all. They give pause to those who consider such actions, they provide a fail safe to those who choose to commit such acts and they have the advantage of surprise over the evil-doer. We should be reducing the number of "gun-free" zones so that the law abiding gun owner will be there when we need them.
The Governor of Illinois has been charged with conspiring to sell Barack Obama's recently-vacated senator's seat, in what has been described as a "staggering" case of corruption.
The FBI said Governor Rod Blagojevich was caught on wiretaps discussing how he could profit from Mr Obama vacating the seat when he was elected president.
The 51-year-old Democrat was allegedly recorded discussing getting paid a substantial salary working for a non-profit foundation or trade union and placing his wife on corporate boards where he speculated she might get paid as much as $150,000 per year.
He also discussed getting himself a cabinet post or ambassadorship. “I want to make money,” a 76-page FBI affidavit quoted him as saying in one conversation.
Is anyone really surprised at this? Is anyone going to believe the Democrats believe in democracy now? Maybe if and only if the Democrats drop the hammer on him. But, maybe they won't if only because he must know some dirt on the rest of them. Then again he might suffer a heart attack soon.
Pending Legislation AWNAA Act
Washington, DC- Congress is considering sweeping legislation that will provide new benefits for many Americans. The Americans With No Abilities Act (AWNAA) is being hailed as a major legislative goal by advocates of the millions of Americans who lack any real skills or ambition.
'Roughly 50 percent of Americans do not possess the competence and drive necessary to carve out a meaningful role for themselves in society,' said California Senator Barbara Boxer. 'We can no longer stand by and allow People of Inability to be ridiculed and passed over. With this legislation, employers will no longer be able to grant special favors to a small group of workers, simply because they have some idea of what they are doing.'
In a Capitol Hill press conference, House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid pointed to the success of the U.S. Postal Service, which has a long-standing policy of providing opportunity without regard to performance. Approximately 74 percent of postal employees lack any job skills, making this agency the single largest U.S. employer of Persons of Inability.
Private-sector industries with good records of non-discrimination against the Inept include retail sales (72%), the airline industry (68%), and home improvement 'warehouse' stores (65%). At the state government level, the Department of Motor Vehicles also has an excellent record of hiring Persons of Inability (63%).
Under the Americans With No Abilities Act, more than 25 million 'middle man' positions will be created, with important-sounding titles but little real responsibility, thus providing an illusory sense of purpose and performance.
Mandatory non-performance-based raises and promotions will be given so as to guarantee upward mobility for even the most unremarkable employees. The legislation provides substantial tax breaks to corporations that promote a significant number of Persons of Inability into middle-management positions, and gives a tax credit to small and medium-sized businesses that agree to hire one clueless worker for every two talented hires.
Finally, the AWNAA contains tough new measures to make it more difficult to discriminate against the Non-abled, banning, for example, discriminatory interview questions such as, 'Do you have any skills or experience that relate to this job?'
'As a Non-abled person, I can't be expected to keep up with people who have something going for them,' said Mary Lou Gertz, who lost her position as a lug-nut twister at the GM plant in Flint, Michigan, due to her inability to remember rightey tightey, lefty loosey. 'This new law should be real good for people like me,' Gertz added. With the passage of this bill, Gertz and millions of other untalented citizens will finally see a light at the end of the tunnel.
Said Senator Dick Durban (D-IL): 'As a Senator with no abilities, I believe the same privileges that elected officials enjoy ought to be extended to every American with no abilities. It is our duty as lawmakers to provide each and every American citizen, regardless of his or her adequacy, with some sort of space to take up in this great nation and a good salary for doing so.'
I am opposed to the "bailouts". Right from the get-go it is clear that the same people who are getting shafted once from the failure of this or that financial institution or business are going to get shafted again in having to pay, i.e. reward, the managers of those businesses for their mis-management. It is also clear that the reason that the democrat congress is so eager to bail out certain businesses is that they wish to both divert attention from and, hope upon hope, fix the colossal screw up they made in directing some of the actions and ignoring the mismanagement (documented here) of certain quasi-government entities.
Now they want to control the auto-makers in return for "bailing them out". Yeah, right. The congress critters, individually or as a group, are incapable of managing their way out of a wet paper bag (or getting friends out of wet cars). To think that they can manage the automakers out of danger of bankruptcy is ridiculous. When nobody is buying a new car unless they absolutely need it and gas prices are precipitously falling they think that re-tooling for and forcing the auto-makers to sell expensive hybrids and other "green" autos will save the industry. It is only pouring good money after bad.
I do support the natural death of unprofitable businesses. However painful it might be it will be far less painful than the Congressionally directed hyperinflation and post-WWI German-like devaluation of the US dollar.
Veterans, we thank you. The gauntlet cast you answered the call. You did your duty. You came home and you gave us security and prosperity without precedent. Because of all you have done both during and after the war we have enjoyed many, many blessings. Thank you.
So, are police departments going to begin using their militarized sections/departments to enforce food sanitation and tax law? What's up with gunning for MENNONITES? Why was this necessary? It is simply beyond belief.
Unfortunately for the "we know better than you" NPS elitists, who by in large bow down to the Green Lord O, not only will the filthy nature-trampling masses they are forced to call "Guests" continue to sully pristine NPS Domain(s), those same peasants will no longer be forced by Elitist Federal Law to be helpless Prey to the 2 and 4 legged Predators who make those same Parks their hunting grounds. (The National Park Service said there were 11 killings, 35 rapes or attempted rapes, 61 robberies, 16 kidnappings and 261 aggravated assaults in national parks in 2006 - the most recent year for which data are available - and no ability to defend yourself unless you were the reincarnation of Bruce Lee.)
Yet the depth of their paranoia over anyone but THEM having any practical means of self defense is apparent in their feeble and illogical opposition talking points.
"Once again, political leaders in the Bush administration have ignored the preferences of the American public by succumbing to political pressure, in this case generated by the National Rifle Association," said Bill Wade, president of the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees.
Excuse me? Back in February 2008, 50 SENATORS sent letters to Dirk Kempthorne (R-ID) requesting that the NPS regulations be brought into line with the laws existing in their States. After an exhaustive two month PUBLIC comment period - a period where the urban anti-self defense crowd was pushing the "no" comments every bit as hard as the NRA was pushing "yes" - the Department of the Interior could not muster enough Rational Objections to the proposal to discard it. But to the Government Elitists at the NPS, the only opinions that matter, the only "American Public" that matters, is Them.
"This regulation will put visitors, employees and precious resources of the National Park System at risk.
In the same way that lawful concealed carry has turned the 48 states that allow it into shooting galleries equivalent to say... Chicago - where handguns are illegal? The same way that people are shooting "visitors, employees and precious resources" willy-nilly in State Parks? No, this is just a regulation THEY didn't come up with, so they don't like it and are trying to justify their need for Power.
We will do everything possible to overturn it and return to a commonsense approach to guns in national parks that has been working for decades," Wade said.
So, as per usual, some Federal Employees get told that they must abide by STATE Law and they get pissy and threatening - and insinuate that THEY are the only ones with common sense.
This is the problem with Government in general and the Federal Government in particular. Hubris. "We are the Government. We make the Rules - don't you dare question us."
Well, sorry chaps.
75 years ago The People questioned the Rules and told the "Progressive" Nanny-State Do-gooders to take a teatotaling hike and ended Prohibition.
The end of THIS Federal Prohibition is a fitting tribute.
Department of Interior Changes Rules on Concealed Carry
Long a point of contention between the Department of Interior/National Park Service and self-defense rights advocates, the former policy of ignoring state law in regulating concealed carry has been changed. The policy doesn't go into effect until 30 days after rules publication or about 12 January 2009. Until then one could still face penalties for concealed carry. This rule change will not change other aspects of the prohibitions on shooting or hunting in National Parks and Reserves as may apply now.
The final rule, which updates existing regulations, would allow an individual to carry a concealed weapon in national parks and wildlife refuges if, and only if, the individual is authorized to carry a concealed weapon under state law in the state in which the national park or refuge is located. The update has been submitted to the Federal Register for publication and is available to the public on www.doi.gov.
Existing regulations regarding the carrying of firearms remain otherwise unchanged, particularly limitations on poaching and target practice and prohibitions on carrying firearms in federal buildings.
From the beginning...
Since the 4th of November, most every conservative wants to get America back on track and many/most think that to do that they need to get involved. Where to start? Well, the first thing is that you need to do some intelligence work. That is you need to know what is going on. You can't speak, or think, intelligently about what to do if you don't know what is being done. One of the best ways to keep on top of federal law is Thomas at the Library of Congress which is legislative information from the Library of Congress.
It is really rather neat. You can search for bills, you can get all bills by a particular congress critter, look at the congressional record, and find various historical documents. But that isn't all! It would take you quite a bit to find all the resources that are provided. What is neat is that it also has links to the House of Representatives and the Senate.
My point is that you need to know about the various bills, in detail, you need to know who is sponsoring it and you need to know how to contact your representatives to express your support or opposition. One more thing... you need to DO IT!
Change or The Old Guard?He ran on "change" but his people are former Clinton staffers. If you are an Obama supporter is this what you wanted? If you voted for a BLACK man (over and above all other considerations), did you want to see an overwhelmingly WHITE cabinet? Seems to me that Obama's cabinet/staff are more white than Bush 43's (you know, the evil, white, racist, Republican). What's more, several of these people have a vested interest in covering up the reasons for our economic problems, just like Congress. Why? Because they are INSIDERS and have been involved in all the machinations to allow the activities exploited by their friends that brought us to this place. Seems to me that the ONLY change was in the color of a man's skin. All the rest is the same. There is some talk that the litmus test for Obama administration appointees is firearms ownership. We've posted about the questionnaire but I have to say it isn't clear from the questionnaire that firearms ownership is a disqualifying condition. If it were me I'd do what I always did when asked and respond in the negative. This is none of anyone's business.
What else is going on? Are ANY of the appointees NOT going to be former members of the Clinton Administration?
1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
2. A robot must obey orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.
Just how do those pirates know where the ships are?
Heck, they only need an internet connection! (hat tip to David Hardy, Arms and the Law) Check it out, Live Ships Map - AIS. Of course this AIS was developed to protect vessels but, as usually happens, criminals have learned to exploit the new technology.
"Well, you hear a lot of loose talk, but let me just ... say, as a scholar of the Great Depression -- and I've written books about the Depression and been very interested in this since I was in graduate school, there's no comparison," Bernanke said in a question period after an address in Austin, Texas.
I've been seeing a lot of rather conservative and some liberal folks who are just downright upset with police corruption to the point that they are equating all police officers with abuse of authority. It is certainly true that there has been some degree of corruption since there was first a police officer but is it right to paint all with the broad brush? What has brought us to the point that some of the most law abiding are also the least trusting of the police?
I think that once upon a time a policeman was considered a part of the community which he policed. He helped little old ladies cross the street, admonished inattentive youngsters to do so safely and observe the traffic lights or stay in cross-walks, and talked to residents as he walked his "beat". But then cities got bigger, more spread out and criminals took to cars and so did policemen, just to keep up. Then we had the SWAT teams who went from wearing combat style blue uniforms to military style woodland camouflage BDUs. Coincidentally, police officers started to refer to the rest of us as civilians conveniently forgetting that they, too, are civilians. In order to justify the expenditures for these units they had to be used and where once upon a time police officers waited to catch their criminal unawares, brute force became more and more acceptable until we had incidents at Ruby Ridge, Waco and in Philadelphia (where the PD actually used aerial delivery of explosives) that polarized the more conservative elements of society.
At this same time the "war on drugs" popularized forfeiture laws among the various government entities, state and federal. There was a proliferation of laws covering every nuance of criminal activity enacted. Courts did things such as rule that eminent domain was valid to remove one taxpayer from their property and give it to another taxpayer to increase the yield to the government (New London, CT). This only exacerbated the them-versus-us mentality. Laws granting special status to various minorities, the so-called "hate crimes", that were added to the litany of charges further alienated the majority. Added to this was the felony inflation where crimes went from misdemeanor status to felony status and one federal law retroactively made misdemeanors felony equivalents for the purpose of prohibiting gun ownership.
Of course the media exploited this last, posing criminals as victims of police brutality and after 2 decades of such ever-increasing propaganda expressed surprise that conservative or bedrock Americans felt the same way about the police as did inner-city black youth.
The change in language hasn't helped us at all. From police officer to law enforcement officer and all the other terms now used with their harder edge in implied meaning. Generally speaking, we don't trust them. Not to protect us, not to help us, not to catch criminals, not to defend the constitution, not to be one of us empowered by us to get bad guys. Not at all.
Answers, Where are the Answers?
I've noticed that this blog has been more reporting what is happening and what ticks us off than it is about answers to the problems. That is not exactly what I want but there's bound to be some of that. Why? Because we don't control much of anything. So, folks do what folks do and we have to talk about it and what's wrong with it so that we can learn not to do it (whatever "it" is) again.
A good rant now and then is fine, it lets others know what makes us passionate. Regular grousing about this or that often contains hints about what we really want. But we are going to try to tender some constructive suggestions for improvement. Maybe we will do nothing with that but give somebody food for thought. That's fine with us. We raised our kids the same way. Sometimes, you just plant the seed, spread a little manure, maybe water and wait. The waiting is always the hardest part.
For us, the American ideal is personified in the concept of self-reliance, work ethic, honesty/forthrightness, decency, personal property rights, family, religion, an ability to defend oneself from criminals and crooked politicians, and personal responsibility.