February 29th, 2016

Apple’s Grapple

UNMAC_NELSON_WHERE EXCUSES GO TO DIECreation of Homeland Security not enough?

Office of Total Information Awareness left for the day?

Is the heart-shaped flower of police militarization wilting?

Did D.A.R.P.A. go dark?

Has the Patriot Act pooped out?

Nope. Nor have the corporations and power brokers of the surveillance state yet tapped out American taxpayers. 

In other words, the FBI does not need the Genius Bar. 

From Feds to street-corner cops and home security companies, law enforcement has more than enough control, technology, and boots-on-the-ground for continued counterterrorism success. And probably lots of fun civil liberties secrets, too.

The FBI has all the tools it needs and plenty more to keep American citizens safe. And when I say “safe,” I mean relatively safe, just as we’ve been since September, 2001. Stuff will happen; that’s just the trajectory of history, especially when we’ve been messing around with it as much as we have. But in trying to force Apple to write new software that will help them unlock an iPhone belonging to the perpetrator of the San Bernardino terrorist attacks, the Bureau is overstepping its constitutional bounds. Apple worries that, if they comply, anyone who can grab or mimic their software will have access to every confidence Americans hope to keep electronically secure. Read the rest of this entry »

February 13th, 2016

A Felon, Just Like Me

Former LASD Sheriff Baca_Where Excuses Go to Die__Photo ABC NewsHaving written fundraiser remarks for disgraced LA County Sheriff Lee Baca, and having been big-bro bear-hugged by him after confessing to teleprompter typos, it’s hard to hate the man who ran a law enforcement mafia.

He hugged me because he was relieved to be offstage. Fifty-cent words weren’t easy for Baca, I’d been warned, and this was a big night. Just before he’d taken the podium, I realized I’d failed to yank one word in particular, and sure enough he flubbed it. Regardless of how I felt about his Men’s Central Jail deputies — or anything else related to that American flag-wrapped night at the Beverly Hilton — I was the show writer. I had to tell him it was my mistake, not his. Read the rest of this entry »

January 29th, 2016

Prison Escape Powerball

MANHUNT HOTLINE_Where Excuses Go to DieWelcome to Apocalypse Hoosegow 10, the Lotto jackpot of potential prison escape movies (and the impossibly straight faces of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department).

Man, this story has got it alland it ends in the parking lot of novelty grocery store, Whole Foods.

Killer convicts chipping their way through steel and concrete – check! Laughably low estimates of escaped prisoner capabilities – check! Brutal cellblock battle to distract guards – check! Cougar-teacher helping misunderstood love interest – check! Tied together bed sheets and socks and stuff – check! Months in the making, mistake-free master plan – check! Violent terror-inmates on the loose in conservative county – check! FBI dudes elbowing local badge bumblers outta the way – check! Adam-12-era hoosegow gettin’ last laugh on OC budget dorks – check! Incredibly straight-faced cop brass asking for public help in catching penis-severing Muslim blowtorch monster – check! check! check!

Apocalypse Hoosegow 10_Where Excuses Go to DieOoh, and don’t forget: District Attorney’s office infighting – check! Unauthorized D.A. office statements made public – check! Open criticism – check! Gorilla-goons scratching their heads at escape hole – check! Magic gnats flying out of inmates mouths like in The Green Mile – ok, not that, but Range Rover-driving, Islamophobic blondes blessed with new hero – checkity check!  Read the rest of this entry »

January 16th, 2016

De-institutionalization (and your Tax Dollars)

Mizuo Shinonome_Where Excuses Go to DieSome see de-institutionalization as prison reform’s black hole. We neither think about nor understand it much, until we see how much it can swallow.

Yet redirecting, rather than just recycling, offenders begins and ends with the most common form of second chance behavioral therapy of all: showing individuals the potential in themselves they can’t yet see. I’m certainly a product of it, and there are countless other second chance cases even more deserving of the right mentor than I was.

In such an inexcusably crowded prison system as California’s, wringing Yard life from offenders can devour solar systems of resources, and profoundly institutionalized individuals are difficult people to be around on a good day. So for both plucky and grizzled corrections professionals working with offenders and parolees, resolve and past re-entry successes are crucial. So, too, are faith and funding – or at least the delivery of funds previously promised. Read the rest of this entry »

December 31st, 2015

2015 EXCUSE OF THE YEAR

2015 Where Excuses Go to Die_EXCUSE OF THE YEAR2015 was a rough year, especially for those who believe in the absolutism of beat cops and badges, or that the bootstraps of hardworking Americans can’t possibly snap. This was a difficult year for innocent bystanders, or anyone thinking they were safe. But it was, and remains, the most challenging yet for those convinced that guns are God-given.

At first I thought I’d go with the excuse offered by Subway Jared and his lawyers who, prior to his prison sentence for child-ruining, blamed his Subway diet for his pervert crimes. Essentially, these morally challenged morons claimed that, had Jared “received help,” he wouldn’t have “traded a horrible food addiction for a horrible sex addiction.” Subway Jared is about to find out Where Excuses Go to Die. Read the rest of this entry »

December 9th, 2015

The High of Handling Guns

Lola Medina conducting a product demo at the offices of Centre Firearms movie prop gun manufacturer_circa 1955There’s a bit of a rush when you get around guns, isn’t there?

You can feel an energy shift when someone brings out some newly purchased rifle or revolver. Yet we rarely talk about just what that shift means or how it affects us. Is it intimidation? The thrill of being in the presence of potential danger? Maybe it’s simply human nature to keep such things to ourselves.

Whatever it is, some people –women as much as men– just plain enjoy handling, learning about, and shooting firearms. Doing so can be cathartic and spirit stirring, an exhilarating hobby to enjoy at gun ranges. For others, often regionally influenced, gun ownership is a rite of passage. Still others like the kick of ownership without the hassles of usage, and many of us don’t even own guns but get into their lore, power, and mythology. Read the rest of this entry »

November 10th, 2015

Prisoner Re-Entry Schools

Photo by Nick VedrosThe time is right for Prisoner Re-Entry Schools.

Offenders must be redirected, not simply recycled, ideally through public-private partnerships. People who have earned a second chance need places to go where stock phrases like “new beginnings” aren’t made into nonsense through endless repetition.

In Boston, Massachusetts, inmates will soon have the option of applying for enrollment in a new prisoner re-entry school inside the 45-year old Boston Pre-Release Center. In addition to a long list of programs that began in 1972, the new Re-entry School will help connect parolees with individual and community leaders confirmed to support them and, ultimately, to help reduce recidivism and crime. Read the rest of this entry »

October 18th, 2015

Capitalizing on Inmate Firefighters

Image_washingtonpostThere’s no excuse for inmate firefighters becoming pawns of prison reform.

Inmate firefighters: it’s an odd term, isn’t it? “Firefighter” is a badge of honor, while “inmate” is a brand. Yet these particular convicted criminals are routinely sent on 16-mile marches to square off with raging wildfires for 24 hours at a time, carrying the mark of offenders while performing duties as honorable as they come. For about $2 an hour.

These men (and women) are typically housed in a more congenial, campus-like setting. They eat better than their counterparts who are still behind prison walls, and they’re addressed more cordially by both frontline custody personnel and the civilian training staffers who oversee their participation in California’s esteemed Conservation Camp program.

Most of these folks were convicted of non-violent crimes. But violent offenders have also swung picks and wielded shovels for the California Department of Forest and Fire Protection (CalFire) for decades, and a proposal to expand their participation was recently submitted by California corrections officials. Good thing it was withdrawn almost as soon as it was made public, as the plan could have been a disaster.

Read the rest of this entry »

October 3rd, 2015

Let’s Talk about Package Thieves

WHITE TRASH CHILD LABOR__Where Excuses Go to Die

Abandoning skanky mattresses and furniture are hate crimes, and package thieves are cut from the same cloth.
These rats need skewering.

Few things get under my skin as much as abandoned, humped-on furniture, but package thieves come pretty close. And, ’tis the season for these losers to come out of their pain med stupors long enough to use what semblance of societal normalcy they possess as a cloak for their cowardice. Like this guy, who literally takes his toddler out of its stroller to make the kid grab someone’s package.

But guess what, dummies? Here’s where your excuses go to die, ’cause what the hell will you have to say for yourselves when you get caught? Read the rest of this entry »

August 24th, 2015

The Sucker Factor

For every credibility gap there is a gullibility gap__Where Excuses Go to DieThe sucker factor is off the charts: mass consumption has seen to it that we all have oral fixations in one form or another. So how do you excuse yours – or the ones you’re aware of, anyway?

Before we proceed, let’s get it out there that I know as much about Freudian psychosexual development of “oral character” and behavioral science in general as I do about piloting commercial aircraft. But we seem to be naturally equipped with onboard behavioral science labs, where finger-pointers in our heads tell us who pays retail, who doesn’t, who’s most likely to be struck by a bus crossing the street, and who will probably marry a drummer, speak the truth, or become a pain in the ass.

Designer Water Bottle Worship_Where Excuses Go to DieSo while I may have no “official” business offering my theories of the internal and external forces shaping our personalities, I’ll feel free to ask, what’s your excuse? How many bottles that look like toy spaceships do you purchase, maintain, nurse from, neglect, or collect? Of the seemingly endless choices, how do you decide which ones are right for you?

  • Capacity?Absurdly Pretentious Horseshit__Where Excuses Go to Die
  • Innovative appearance?
  • Important looking millimeter measurements up the side?
  • iPhone connectivity?
  • Spill proof-ness?
  • Polymer resin construction per NASA specifications?
  • Easy grip?
  • Percentage of sales profits donated to eco-friendly charities?

How about the thermosy thing that tracks all of the disposable plastic bottles you’re not buying (a self-important do-gooder tug job if there ever was one)? My favorite is the one that opens and closes for you, in case you’re too fatigued to do it yourself.

The point is, many of these impulse buys can go for $90 and up. What’s your limit?  Read the rest of this entry »