font-family: 'Arizonia', cursive; Michael Stichauf - "As I understand it now...'til it changes": 2013

Sunday, December 22, 2013

My Christmas Tribute to My Mother

Every year at this time, everyone’s thoughts turn to the people we love. We buy gifts and cards, letting them know just how much we appreciate them. I was thinking that this year I would write something a little more special for the most important person in my life, my Mother.
Mom...enjoying a moment.
My Mother with her Granddaughter & Great Granddaughter 

Whether you believe that God created Mothers or whether you feel that Man is a product of evolution, Mothers are incredible individuals! Mothers know what their children are thinking and feeling before their children have to tell them. They are a shoulder to cry on and a “rock” to lean on. Mothers are capable of incredible compassion and consequently, of having their hearts broken. What makes a Mother “special” is patience, understanding, tolerance, a certain amount of discipline and of course- LOVE. Mothers have a “special” bond with their children that I don’t think anyone, including a Father, can quite understand. Yes, Fathers love their children just as much but there is a certain “something” that a mother seems to have for her children.

My Mother has had a level of patience that is totally foreign to me. Her years of patience with me alone, have been part of what so endears her to me. When I think of the amount of patience that I’ve needed with certain people in my life, I wish that I could have summoned half of the patience with them, that my Mother had summoned with me. A Mother’s patience allows a child to make the mistakes in life that a child needs to make so that they learn and grow. That being the case, the amount of patience my Mother needed for me should have allowed me to “learn” enough to be as smart as Einstein and “grow” enough to be as tall as Shaq. Her patience should be considered legendary. When I think back, over the years, there are certain times that I know that my brothers and I tried the patience of my mother well past the breaking point and yet, she never broke. Oh yes, we were punished, but we never once felt the she didn’t love us. I know what everyone’s thinking... a little bad behavior shouldn’t change the way a Mother feels about her children, and you’re right. I’m not inferring that my Mother is special because she still loved us even though we misbehaved. I’m inferring that my Mother is “special” simply because she is my Mother.

Understanding and tolerance, borne out of experience, wisdom and the teachings of her Mother, are also her indispensable traits. These traits are what she passes along in the hopes that her children become compassionate and humble individuals. We live in an imperfect world. Compassion allows us to be charitable to the people who have less than us, the homeless and the disadvantaged. Tolerance gives us the courage to accept the people who are different, people of a different religion or individuals in the LGBT community. Our Mothers know that the world is made up of all kinds of people and that’s what makes EVERY INDIVIDUAL “special”, including their own children. I grew up in the 60s and 70s, which was a time of incredible prejudice towards African-Americans. I remember specifically, my Mother teaching me that African-Americans deserved the same respect that anyone else deserved. She NEVER let up on that continual dose of acceptance that I needed to hear. I grew up in a neighborhood not known for its acceptance of ANYONE different from us. For years, I remember having to fight the “pressures” from my friends to conform to the same prejudices as theirs. Unfortunately, there were times that I succumbed to their “pressure”, times that I am now ashamed of. Yet, with the Mother that I had, I was fortunate enough to finally understand just how right she was! These are the moments when a Mother’s strength AND perseverance become indispensable to a young, impressionable child. I thank you, Mom!

As this Christmas arrives, take the time to let your Mother know just how “special” she was AND is in your life. If your Mother has, unfortunately passed, take the time to let your children know just how “special” she was to you. Tell them how her influence has made you the person you are and how it is making them the individuals they are. We only have this one life to live and it’s our Mother’s influence that helps us become the individuals that we become. Mom, thank you for being you! Thank you for your understanding and tolerance. Thank you for your continued lessons in life as well as your patience. Mom, thank you for making me the person that I am.
Merry Christmas, I Love you Mom.


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

President Obamas Speech at Nelson Mandela’s Memorial

President Obama, today, spoke at the Memorial Service held for Nelson Mandela. As is always the case at ANY public event that the President attends, all eyes were upon him. Let’s discuss the event’s fallout.

I used the word “fallout” because as we all now know, someone will take a shot at just about any little gesture that the President makes, whether there is any meaning behind it or not. Notice that I didn’t say, “...any meaning INTENDED behind it...” There doesn’t need to be any intention behind what he says or does for his detractors to jump on him. Believe me, I can be just as critical of the President as the next guy but when you hear the things that they say at times, you realize that they don’t even give him the basic right to exist! Really, they don’t believe Barack Obama has the right to be President and if you listen carefully, you can hear them tell their friends just how “uppity” he can get at times.

I was really proud to be an American today. I’m actually ALWAYS proud to be an American but more so today than usual. Watching how that crowd responded to OUR President as he walked onto the podium was an inspiration. Yes, we have a lot wrong with our country, but the mere fact that America’s first African-American President was giving the “keynote speech” at Mandela’s memorial shows that America has the ability to change and grow and move past their earlier injustices. That’s in spite of the fact that many people believe that the President didn’t deserve to be there in the first place.

As I watched and listened to his speech, I didn’t hear anything that the President’s critics could use against him. In fact, the President’s speech was a moving tribute to a man who was willing to die for what he believed in. A man who withstood years of indignity as the unrepentive, convicted guest of a regime that refused to allow him his freedom whether it was inside a cell or out. A man so dangerous to South Africa’s government, that they kept him behind bars for over twenty-five years. No, my friends, I didn’t hear anything that Obama said today that the Republican’s, the Tea Party or ANY rational human being could use against him.

What I did hear today was a man, a man honoring another man. I heard a man, who despite the ugly indignities hurled at him for the last five to six years, speak with dignity and represent a country which only 150 years ago, treated his ancestors the same way South Africa treated Nelson Mandela. As President Obama spoke about the changes Nelson Mandela was able to make in South Africa, you could hear if you listened closely enough, the fading and dying sounds of that old southern song, “Dixie”. A song that symbolized the travesty of slavery much like the word “Apartheid” symbolized the injustices committed in South Africa. As Obama continued, you could almost forget that he was speaking of one individual and realize that the beliefs and actions used to tear down “Apartheid” are the same beliefs and actions that every man needs to have for this world to be a better place to live in. These “morals” never change for they’ve been talked about and practiced for generations. When the President said, ‘It took a man like Madiba (Mandela) to free not just the prisoner, but the jailer as well to show that you must trust others so that they may trust you’, he was also reminding us that Lincoln’s policy after the Civil War was to be one of inclusion and not one of punishment. A fundamental requirement if both the oppressed AND the oppressors are to become free. He goes on to say, ‘that reconciliation is not a matter of ignoring a cruel past, but a means of confronting it with inclusion and generosity and truth.’ Unlike Mandela’s and South Africa’s immediate “inclusion”, America’s “inclusion” took more time but with Obama’s election to the Presidency, we certainly can say that we’ve come a long way towards making it complete.

In regards to President Obama shaking hands with Raul Castro, we really need to realize that today was a memorial and that most decent people are not there to create attention for themselves but to honor the individual being memorialized. President Obama simply shook the next hand that was to be shaken, no more, no less. Like I said before... there wasn’t any meaning behind it, intended or not. If anyone doubts the President’s commitment to fundamental human rights, he also had this to say; ‘There are too many people who happily embrace Madiba’s (Mandela’s) legacy of racial reconciliation, but passionately resist even modest reforms that would challenge chronic poverty and growing inequality. There are too many leaders who claim solidarity with Madiba’s (Mandela’s) struggle for freedom, but do not tolerate dissent from their own people. No folk’s, President Obama isn’t signaling any kind of change towards Cuba by his handshake with Raul. Yes, I know that after hearing that speech today, the people who hate the President have to grab onto something with which to hit him. After all, they certainly couldn’t use that speech; there simply wasn’t anything controversial about it, unless, of course, you disagree with freedom, justice and equality. Oops, I just remembered who were dealing with... Republicans, Tea Partyers and Conservatives.

And that’s, “As I understand it now... ‘til it changes”.
Let me know what you think.

Michael K. Stichauf

Saturday, December 7, 2013

NSA and Snowden activity have changed our online and telephone habits

I’ve just read a terrific article written by Suzanne Nossel from CNN. She discusses how the NSA and the Snowden affair have already changed the way that the public and writers have curbed what they discuss on the phone and what they put out over social media. I want to discuss the implications of the NSA and Snowden’s actions with everyone.

I don’t have an opinion on the actions of Mr. Snowden. I see pros and cons in the whole affair. What does bother me is the effect that it seems to have on the public and the press.

I agree with Ms. Nossel that Snowden probably had no idea that the fall-out, from his actions, was going to be this bad. Maybe he figured, naively, that it would get the administration to change their tactics in their intelligence gathering. To be sure, no one can read his mind. What we can discuss are the after effects and how they have changed people’s actions.

Nonetheless, there have been International repercussions that have embarrassed the United States. With the discovery that Heads of State, Angela Merkel for one, were having their cell phones gleaned for information, the International community has come to realize that a lot of this was done under the guise of mining for terrorism information. Because of these revelations, the United Nations has started an investigation into the U.S.’s actions. Yet, with the fact that we run the United Nations, NOTHING OF SUBSTANCE WILL EVER COME OF THIS INVESTIGATION.

Going into the time when Mr. Snowden revealed all his information, we all know that a good many of us were concerned over just what it was that the “G” was collecting and from whom they were collecting it. As the years went by, small “bits” of information were getting out that “Islamic fundamentalists” weren’t the only people the N.S.A. was “bugging” for information.  Initially, I think just about everyone was “on-board” with the new legislation that was enacted in order to fight the “War on Terror”. Yes, the A.C.L.U. was against the legislation, but that’s what they do. Believe me; we all should be glad that that is what they do. We need somebody to act as the “devil’s advocate” for things such as this. What most of us didn’t think about though, was the fact that once the “G” takes something away, WE NEVER GET IT BACK! NEVER! As much as we came to accept these laws, and as much as we figured that they were here for a while, I don’t think a lot of us understood that they weren’t coming off the books. Slowly but surely, Americans started to change what they said on the phone and what they posted on their favorite social networking sites. Most of us never even realized that it was happening. Over time, this “surveillance” has changed the way U.S. citizens express themselves! As the saying goes, “doing something for seven days makes it a habit” and most of us now don’t even realize that we “self-monitor” what we put out to even our closest friends. It’s automatic now.

According to a PEW RESEARCH survey, about half of Americans support the NSA programs of surveillance! Many people in favor of these programs seize on a survey like this to point to the fact that the American public is behind the NSA on this topic. What they forget is the fact that, if half the public supports these programs, the OTHER HALF DOESN’T SUPPORT THEM! Many of us realize that the information that is needed in this “War” could be seized with the same laws that we had in place BEFORE 9/11. This includes the “F.I.S.A.” law, which has been in effect since 1979. What we need to understand is the fact that over the last 15-20 years, the public has given up on trying to fight the Government. We’ve become complacent when it comes to issues that oppress us, the stealing of our Civil Rights. As Ms. Nossel so beautifully writes, ‘Some Americans' relative nonchalance toward the government prying into e-mails and calls we long thought were private may stem in part from knowing that we have already ceded so much of our privacy voluntarily. Social media, online shopping, and simple browsing have become semi-public acts. It's hard to know who can see what, and worrying about it can stand in the way of buying a birthday present, posting a great photo or getting your taxes done.’(under-lining added) And she’s right. But, just because I’ve decided to relinquish my right to privacy, doing something that I enjoy, doesn’t mean that I should accept the Government taking those same rights away because they want to keep tabs on every Tom, Dick and Jane that they chose! Furthermore, the chance that any average Joe will ever find out whether they were denied something, anything, because of what they’ve tweeted or posted to a social networking site are nil. We were lucky that the Church commission was able to uncover the information that the F.B.I. was keeping on people they considered radicals. Believe me; the government will NEVER make that mistake again.

Another point that Ms. Nossel makes is this; she writes, ‘When the Snowden story first broke, Obama claimed that the newly exposed programs had foiled 50 terrorist plots. After reading through a classified list of the thwarted assaults, Sen. Patrick Leahy called the figure "plainly wrong.”  In the few cases where details have been released, journalists and intelligence experts have argued that the evidence gathered through surveillance could have been obtained in other ways, or wasn't crucial.’ This again goes to the point that all the information that we need to fight this “War” can easily be done with the laws that were in place at the time of 9/11. What needed to be done was to put to an end the rivalries and the childish bickering that was occurring between the different intelligence agencies that were tasked with collecting this information. There were even rivalries between different F.B.I. offices that were thwarting the sharing of information that could have stopped this attack BEFORE it even took wings! A great example of this is the story of an agent in one of the western offices who sent a memo to a department head about certain men of “Arab” decent who were taking flying lessons. One of these men was so bold as to tell his instructor that he only wanted to learn how to take-off and fly the plane. He didn’t NEED TO KNOW HOW TO LAND THE PLANE!! Well, the instructor thought that something wasn’t right about this guy and he called the F.B.I. After 9/11, it came to light that this memo was left on the dept. head’s desk and never sent to the people that it needed to be sent to. All we needed was a re-vamping of the way all the info was collected and sent to the right people.

Let’s now discuss what these “surveillance” issues have done to writers and journalists. Many journalists have admitted to turning down assignments because they might be subjects that are too sensitive. They are afraid that something that they write about might be gathered in by the N.S.A. and they may be the subject of some kind of investigation. Now, many of us might say, “They are writers; they’re protected by the rights of the press.” Let me remind you of one of the tactics used by the police or any other agency that has the ability to take away your freedom, for weeks at a time, before you see a judge. They know that people don’t like to be inconvenienced. Therefore, these agencies threaten to arrest (even if they know you are innocent) anyone doing OR writing anything that they don’t like. With the fact that there is often no bail on any kind of “terrorism” charge, it could be weeks before that individual would see a judge who MIGHT throw the case out but most likely will be told NOT to do that AND not to impose a bond so that the person stays behind bars! Who, but some of the most incredible people of our time (Rosa Parks, M.L.K.), are willing to have their freedom taken from them like that. Believe me, it will and probably has happened. Journalists are the most important people in our society when it comes to keeping the “G” honest. When things like this are threatened, nobody is safe.

We know that most journalists have stronger constitutions (character) than the average person because exposing wrongdoing is what they’ve chosen as a career path. There are tons of examples, over the years, where the courts have protected the journalist from individuals or institutions wanting to curb their right to “free speech” or from having to expose their sources. Unfortunately, over the last 12 years or so, journalists have had these protections slowly vanish. The dangers of these new attacks on the press are starting to show. There are now subjects that some journalists simply refuse to examine. Who knows what the outcome will be, over time, as we “forget” about these situations that normally would have been exposed because of our unique protection of speech.

During the 2008 and 2012 elections, I honestly thought that electing another “old white guy” wasn’t going to change the culture of deceit that had become the Government of the United States. I also honestly thought that electing Obama would go a long way towards changing THAT culture of deceit. Boy, was I wrong! I simply FORGOT about ALL THE OTHER “OLD WHITE GUYS”, in the congress, THAT WEREN’T GOING TO ALLOW THAT CHANGE to happen! What I find so repulsive is the fact that, when you think about it, OUR government has lumped US in with the likes of IRAN, NORTH KOREA and the TERRORISTS! The citizens of the United States have their phones tapped and their social network sites monitored just like the Taliban! Because of our INITIAL sense of patriotism, we’ve slowly allowed our government, OUR GOVERNMENT, to highjack our rights. Rights, which we’ll never get back again. So much for, “Government of the people, by the people, for the people...”

And that’s, “As I understand it now... ‘til it changes”. Let me know what you think.

Thank you, Michael K. Stichauf

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

How Crooked “Coppers” Get Around the Inconveniences of Probable Cause, Search Warrants and that other Inconvenience... The LAW!

Every day we hear stories about how another “copper” (my term for a corrupt & crooked cop) has been caught and arrested because of malfeasance. I just read another story about a Baltimore copper violating ANOTHER individual’s civil rights. Let’s discuss just what it is that these “Scumbags” do to get around these, oh-so-inconvenient laws. First, though, I’m going to let you read excerpts from the latest story that I’ve just read.

This story is courtesy of “” from Nov. 06, 2013. Special to the Chronicle by Houston-based investigative journalist Clarence Walker, This is Part 8 in his continuing series of stories about prosecutorial misconduct and police corruption in the drug war.
In an unusual recent case, the US 4th Circuit Appeals Court overturned a conviction in a crack cocaine case despite the defendant having pleaded guilty. The case involving Baltimore drug dealer Cortez Leon Fisher was not overturned because the plea agreement was coerced or not voluntary -- the usual standard -- but because it was based on the lies of a corrupt police officer.
The case -- but not this tale -- began with an October 29, 2007 raid on Fisher's home executed by Baltimore police officer and DEA drug task force member Mark Lunsford. The search turned up crack cocaine and a loaded weapon. To avoid a decades-long stretch behind bars, Fisher copped a plea to one count of possession of crack cocaine with intent to distribute and one count of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Federal District Court Judge Frederick Motz then sentenced Fisher to 10 years in federal prison.

Fisher subsequently appealed to overturn his plea agreement after Lunsford was indicted on theft and perjury charges involving his use of bogus informants to falsely arrest and rip off drug dealers. In July 2010, the crooked cop got 20 months in federal prison for his crimes.

Lunsford's arrest and conviction uncovered a pattern of fabricating evidence to enrich police officers and selected informants, who received payments in cases in which they had not provided information. Reward money was fraudulently awarded to undeserving informants, and the proceeds were split between Lunsford and the snitches.
But it gets worse. Lunsford also had a long history with Fisher and some of his family members, whom he had previously arrested on drug charges, some of which had been dismissed. In this light, Lunsford's pursuit of Fisher takes on the appearance of a personal vendetta.
When Fisher discovered that Lunsford had been indicted for perjury and theft in 2009, he wrote a pro se appeal to the judge who sentenced him, requesting that his guilty plea be vacated. But Judge Motz demurred.

Unquestionably if the defendant had known of Lunsford's misconduct he would have filed a motion to suppress, and the motion may well have been successful," Motz wrote in denying the appeal. Nevertheless, "the defendant does not deny he was in possession of a firearm (as he admitted under oath during his Rule 11).Under these circumstances, I cannot find that a failure to allow defendant to withdraw his guilty plea would result in a 'miscarriage of justice.'"

Fisher appealed that decision to the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals. In his appeal, Fisher wrote that Lunsford "set me up and arrested me unlawfully." The informant in the case, Fisher said in the appeal, "never gave Lunsford information concerning drug activities at Fisher's home." Citing prior arrests of Fisher by Lunsford years ago, the appeal went on to say that after Lunsford arrested Fisher in 2007 in the current case, "the officer returned to my apartment later, stole a safe containing all my jewelry specifically numerous diamonds with blue and red design, including a diamond watch."
The 4th Circuit overturned the trial judge. The key question for the court was whether a police officer's misrepresentations of facts invalidated a guilty plea under the due process clause. The court noted that in order to invalidate a plea, the defendant must show that egregious impermissible conduct preceded the entry of the plea and that the misconduct influenced the defendant's decision to plead guilty.
While one member of the three-judge panel voted to dismiss Fisher's appeal, arguing that "natural reaction of extreme distaste to Lunsford's criminal act does not instantaneously transform Fisher's guilty plea into some form of due process violation that permits him now to withdraw his plea," his was a dissenting opinion.
Judges James Wynn and Henry Floyd disagreed. Lunsford's lies influenced Fisher to cop a plea and his perjury "undermined the entire proceedings, thus rendering the defendant's pleas involuntary, and violated his due process rights," they wrote. "A plea based on law enforcement fraud is invalid even if the person is guilty," the court held in itsruling in the case.

Cop v. Drug Dealer
Baltimore police officer Mark Lunsford despised drug dealer Cortez Fisher. Their adversarial history stretches years to when Lunsford rode patrol near Baltimore's notorious Murphy Homes Project, where Fisher and his brother called "Midget" sold drugs, according to court documents.
In a search warrant affidavit dated October 29, 2007, Lunsford wrote that he received reliable information from a snitch that Fisher was selling drugs out of his house. Then, based on that false report, Lunsford claimed he personally saw Fisher sell drugs from his car. It was all a lie.
Court records filed in Fisher's case include a redacted FBI document dated October 23, 2009, where Lunsford admits that he fabricated source information in Fisher's and numerous other narcotics cases that sent citizens to prison. Lunsford told FBI agent that, fully aware of Fisher's involvement in the drug trade, he had lied when he said the informant he had named in the affidavit was the source of his information about Fisher.
Fisher may well have had a career as a drug dealer, but as the 4th Circuit noted, "even the guilty can suffer a miscarriage of justice."
Cortez Fisher remains imprisoned as he awaits word on what prosecutors will do. In the worst case, he will stay there until 2017. Meanwhile, the crooked cop whose perjurious information led to Fisher's arrest and subsequent plea bargain is a free man, not on parole, and not in the clutches of the criminal justice system.
For the guy from the mean streets of Baltimore, there is nothing left to do except to start over -- again.
"They took everything I had," he explained.
As you can see, this copper had no qualms about doing whatever he wanted to do in order to arrest and convict Mr. Fisher. Most cops start their careers realizing that, if they want to arrest the people they know are guilty, they SIMPLY CAN’T ABIDE BY THE LAW. A police officer is taught that to stop someone, the officer must have probable cause. Probable cause is a very “pliable” law. Although it is found in the Fourth Amendment coppers have, for decades, shaded this concept to suit their needs of getting a stop and an arrest. An individual can be stopped for such “credible” things as; a traffic violation, an officer seeing an individual make a hand to hand exchange of drugs and money (NOT to be confused with one individual handing another money because they are lending it to them BUT our wonderful coppers use that as “probable cause” because even though there wasn’t the actual sight of drugs, they simply say there was!) or being seen running from a car that has just had it’s alarm set off. These are all legitimate reasons for stopping someone. Here comes the shady stuff. According to one of my sources, a BIG and favorite excuse for probable cause is someone acting in a suspicious manner. My source tells me that after some time in the field a cop realizes that he’d almost never make an arrest without shading these “probable cause” examples. As far as I’m concerned, the minute a “police officer” does this, he becomes a “scumbag copper”. If you take a few minutes and look at different people who are out and about, you can usually find someone who you can say might be considered “suspicious” or is acting in a “suspicious manner”. The conditions that need to be met for “probable cause” are very pliable! Suspiciousness, my source says, is every dirty copper’s favorite probable cause excuse. He goes on to say that after a while, the copper won’t even consider probable cause. Yes, he knows he’ll need to present it in court but he has plenty of time (weeks usually) to invent something! So, when he arrests someone who knows they haven’t done anything wrong, and they want to know what his probable cause is, the copper’s response is a smack in the face and a kick between the legs. You don’t get smart with a dirty copper! That’s right; asking the rational question, “What’s your reason for stopping me?” is getting smart to a dirty copper!

I’d like to take some time, now, to discuss the actions and decision of the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals. Fisher’s appeal was initially rejected by his original Judge, Judge Motz. That’s normal, 99% of judges won’t admit they’ve made a mistake. He next appealed to the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, which ended up overturning his conviction. What I found disturbing, though, was the fact that the decision to overturn his conviction was NOT unanimous! Yes, he did win 2-1 and you take what you can get but it seems to me that this appeal was a no-brainer. To have one judge say, “natural reaction of extreme distaste to Lunsford's (the copper) criminal act does not instantaneously transform Fisher's guilty plea into some form of due process violation that permits him now to withdraw his plea” just blows my mind. In layman’s terms, the gist of all our civil rights rests on the fact that they are there, in the first place, to protect everyone from any form of misconduct whatsoever! For this judge to say that, however distasteful the copper’s ILLEGAL act was, it really doesn’t matter when all is said and done, is a disgrace. A complete and utter disgrace! Thank God we don’t allow one judge to make these monumental decisions and make no mistake, they are monumental. In the future, this decision will be referenced by another lawyer who is fighting for the freedom of his client. The fact that this decision will affect all other similar cases, make it monumental. Judges Wynn and Floyd, the remaining two judges summed up the reversal this way, "A plea based on law enforcement fraud is invalid even if the person is guilty". I added the emphasis at the end of this quote because this is the most important part of the ruling, as far as I’m concerned. I realize that this particular doctrine is controversial. There are people out there who believe in things such as, “The ends justify the means”. Applying that phrase to this ruling means that because this man is guilty, it doesn’t matter that ILLEGAL “means” were used to convict him. That’s just not how our justice system is setup to work. The fact that the “Bill of Rights” were the first amendments to our Constitution automatically make a person’s “Civil Rights” the MOST important factor in our justice system, overriding anything else (new laws, etc.) that may be enacted. When a decision is to be made such as this one, everything else becomes subordinate to civil rights! Consequently, the fact that this man was guilty means nothing if his civil rights are violated.   

Americas aversion to “unreasonable searches and seizures” goes back prior to the Revolution. In fact, this grievance was one of the major causes of our decision to declare our independence. One of the major causes! We were tired of the King’s army busting into the homes of our citizens, whether they were members of “The Sons of Liberty” or just plain old “Joes”. “The Sons of Liberty” were America’s version of what we refer to nowadays as “terrorists”. This group formed as a result of the King’s institution of the “Stamp Act” as well as other oppressive acts. They were thought to have burned down the homes of the British civil servants who governed in America at the King’s pleasure. The British army never had “just cause” or even the slightest hint of propriety when they “came a callin’ and a bustin’ in”. These particular instances formed the basis of the “probable cause” and the “unreasonable searches and seizures” clause in the fourth amendment. As far as I’m concerned, and I’m sure a lot more Americans will agree, this amendment is the most important one. Knowing that I’m secure in my home and property are the basis for a safe and secure life. Knowing that as long as I’m doing what’s right, I can be assured that I’m safe in my home without someone busting in under the pretense of legality, is a must for a civilized citizenry. Yet, when coppers lie about informants in order to get search warrants that trust begins to erode. Soon enough, people stop trusting coppers, AS WELL AS POLICE OFFICERS (the good ones). When you read this story, you see that, not only did this copper lie to arrest Mr. Fisher; he lied in order to get into his home to steal his safe and other items of value.

One thought in closing. Remember, if you can, back to when two bank robbers, dressed in body armor, robbed a bank in Los Angeles. When they were leaving, the police showed up and the robbers, who were loaded “for bear”, decided it was time to shoot it out with the police. The bad guys shot policemen, civilians, even cars when they got in their way. I remember coming away from that news footage with two feelings. The first was a feeling of pride and appreciation that the police officers, who were paid to “serve and protect”, did just that. Those police officers protected the injured civilians as well as their own wounded officers. The other feeling that I came away with was this feeling, after trying to put myself in the shoes of those citizens, of utter hopelessness and despair! Imagine being one of those civies, who was laying there injured and helpless, and you know in your heart that the people who were hired to protect you were NOT ABLE TO PROTECT YOU because they too were injured and hurt! There’s this almost indescribable feeling of UTTER HOPELESSNESS when you realize that the world has suddenly been turned upside-down. No longer are you safe from that nut with an AK-47! Well, that’s the same kind of feeling that I get when I read these stories of dirty coppers. Let’s face it, when we KNOW we’ve done something wrong and we’re arrested, legitimately, there’s a certain acceptance of our fate. However, when we haven’t done anything wrong, and we’re wrongly arrested and/or convicted, that’s basically the same feeling of hopelessness and despair that we get when we realize that there is nothing in place anymore to protect us from these illegal arrests. Now, I know that Mr. Fisher was actually caught with the drugs and the gun. I also know that there are people out there who believe that those facts right there justify whatever acts, however illegal, are used to arrest and convict Mr. Fisher. In America folks, that’s just not the way it’s supposed to be and that’s as old as the constitution and as solid as our country! Unfortunately, there are coppers out there who have found ways around that constitution and we need to shed the light of day on the “scumbags” or it’s just gonna get worse and that feeling of hopelessness and despair will pervade every mile of this beautiful country and that just can’t happen. Like the article says, ‘Fisher may well have had a career as a drug dealer, but as the 4th Circuit noted, "even the guilty can suffer a miscarriage of justice." ‘. As far as I’m concerned, if there’s only justice for the innocent and NO JUSTICE for the guilty, we have no right calling ourselves a civilized society!

That’s all for now folks. That’s “As I understand it now... ‘til it changes”
Michael K. Stichauf

Thursday, November 21, 2013

More Corrupt Copper Stories!

I've decided to post every week or two, stories of "copper" corruption and malfeasance. Here are a couple from the recent past.

These stories are courtesy of Phillip Smith, November 20, 2013.

In Bridgeport, Connecticut, a former state trooper rejected a plea bargain and will instead face trial on charges he stole money and property from a motorcyclist killed in a traffic accident. Former Trooper Aaron Huntsman turned down a plea bargain that would have seen him do a year in jail, but now faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted. Huntsman claimed he was strung out on prescription pain pills when he committed the theft, which was caught on his cruiser's camera, and he went into treatment after his arrest.
In New Orleans, a former New Orleans police officer pleaded not guilty Wednesday to violating the federal Controlled Substances Act. Jason Cross was arrested November 1 on charges he conspired to sell drugs in January. Federal prosecutors filed a bill of information rather than an indictment against Cross, suggesting that he is cooperating with prosecutors. He is looking at up to 20 years in federal prison if convicted on the current charges.

And these next stories are also courtesy of Phillip Smith, November 13, 2013.
A dirty cop in Philly costs convictions, two abusive Border Patrol agents get sent away, and we have a trifecta of crooked jail guards. Let's get to it:
In Philadelphia, a state court judge threw out 53 convictions tainted by a corrupt cop last Friday. Common Pleas Supervising Court Judge Sheila Woods-Skipper threw out the convictions, which involved former Philadelphia police officer Jeffrey Walker, who was arrested by the FBI in May on charges he plotted with a government informant to rob drug dealers. In at least one incident, Walker stopped a suspect's vehicle, planted drugs, and then arrested the suspect. He and a confederate then stole $15,000 from the man's house. The city is also paying out massive settlements in lawsuits bought by Walker's victims, including many who served prison time after being framed in court, they claimed.
In Donaldsonville, Louisiana, an Elayne Hunt Correctional Center guard was arrested last Thursday on charges he was trying to smuggle drugs into the jail. Daron Toussant, Sr. was the object of an internal investigation at the jail, which led to a search of his home, which in turn led to the seizure of marijuana, synthetic cannabinoids, and a handgun. He is charged with possession with intent to distribute marijuana, possession with intent to distribute synthetic cannabinoid, illegal carrying of a weapon, and conspiracy to introduce contraband to a penal facility.
In Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania, a Blair County Prison guard was arrested last Saturday after being caught bringing drugs to work. Fred Zigler, 27, went down after showing up with Oxycontin, Oxycodone, and acetaminophen tablets. He is charged with possession with intent to deliver and other drug charges.
In Charlotte, North Carolina, a Charlotte Correctional Institution guard was arrested Tuesday after investigators in an unrelated case saw him selling pain pills to another man. Brian Paul McAvoy, 28, was arrested at work, where he was found to be carrying a pain pill. He is charged with sale an delivery of a controlled substance, introduction of contraband into a correctional facility, and possession of drug paraphernalia.
In Tucson, Arizona, two former Border Patrol agents were sentenced Wednesday to serve two years each in federal prison for mistreating suspected marijuana smugglers. Former agents Dario Costillo, 25, and Ramon Zuniga, 31, went down for a 2008 incident in which they descended on a smugglers' encampment in the desert, but only managed to capture four of 20 smugglers. They forced the unlucky men to chew handfuls of marijuana and flee shoeless into the chilly desert. They were convicted of violating the four men's civil rights. Castillo was looking at up to 40 years and Zuniga, who was convicted of misdemeanors, was looking at up to four years.
This next story is courtesy of Matt Cantor, Newser Staff, October 4, 2013.
(NEWSER) – Lt. Jonathan Josey, the Philadelphia police officer who was caught on video punching a woman at a street party, has been suspended for 30 days and is set for dismissal. Disorderly conduct charges against the woman, Aida Guzman, 39, will be dropped, prosecutors say. After being hit, Guzman landed on the ground with a bloody face; she was left with marks on her lip and elbow.
Following the punch, she was arrested. For his part, Josey "could be criminally charged. The DA would have to make that decision," says the police commissioner. The clash occurred at a Puerto Rican Day Parade in north Philadelphia. The head of the city's Fraternal Order of Police says Josey's firing "stinks," CBS Newsreports.
This story is courtesy of Neal Colgrass, Newser Staff, August 6, 2013.
(NEWSER) – An Iowa shoplifter is contemplating legal action after a cop beat her repeatedly about the head and face—all in view of a store video camera, NBC Chicagoreports. Brandie Redell admits she was trying to steal clothing at a Von Maur Department Store in February when store personnel escorted her to a security office. The office video (click the NBC Chicago link) shows Redell with her young daughter and two Davenport policemen, when one of the cops suddenly attacks her.
Another video segment shows an officer holding Redell while the other punches her. That officer, Scott Crow, says he attacked because Redell had bit his finger and refused to let go—but the video shows him attacking with both fists. As it stands, Crow has faced disciplinary action at his department, and Redell says her vision was impaired by the attack. "I think it's important to demand the same kind of accountability for him that she's facing for her shoplifting accusation," says the head of a journalism non-profit group.
If you want video of this story with the shocking in store video go to;

My commitment is to shed light as often as possible on the corrupt, illegal, ridiculous endeavors of "crooked coppers" because so many people are affected by these "disgraces to the badge"!
And that's "As I understand it now... 'til it changes".
Michael K. Stichauf

Monday, November 11, 2013

Three Presidents- Three Missed Opportunities
 As I listened to an interview on the radio, I was reminded of three Presidents and their opportunities to change the culture of secrecy and deceit that is characteristic of the U.S. government. I want to discuss why, I believe, Presidents Carter, Clinton and Obama weren't able to capitalize on these opportunities.

When Jimmy Carter assumed the Presidency, in January of 1977, he was in a most advantageous position. On the heels of the disastrous presidency of Richard Nixon, Carter seemed to be the right man, at the right time, for what was to prove to be, a most difficult job. The public had just found out about “Watergate”, “The Pentagon Papers”, “The Plumbers” (the secret group tasked with plugging “leaks” coming from the White House), the break-in at Daniel Ellsberg’s psychiatrist’s office (Ellsberg is the man who “leaked” “The Pentagon Papers” to the newspapers) and the Church commission. Voters were FED-UP! With the abuses of power of their government fresh in their minds, they wanted someone they could trust and they wanted someone they thought could change the culture of secrecy and deceit that had become the Government of the United States of America. Carter solidified the public’s belief in himself, as an honest man, with two things that happened leading up to his election as President. The first was Carter’s statement that, “I will never lie to the American people”. An extremely important statement considering the fact that President Nixon, during a press conference about “Watergate”, said emphatically, “I am NOT a crook”! The second was Carter’s unprecedented interview with “Playboy” magazine where he made the comment that he had, “lusted in his heart”. The American people had never met a man such as Carter who they had a chance to vote for. And vote for they did!

Bill Clinton ran for president during a time when, I think, the American public was just plain tired of twelve years of Republican rule in the executive office. The Soviet Union and communism, in general, had suddenly and shockingly collapsed (in the feared eastern bloc countries). The threat of “global thermal nuclear” war was now just a memory in the collective consciousness of the American people. America was also realizing that “trickle-down economics” was a fraud perpetrated by the Republicans on the American economy and it was being exposed by the downturn the economy was taking as campaign season started. Voters were ready for a change. They wanted someone who wasn't a part of the old guard and they wanted someone who was electrifying! Bill Clinton filled both those rolls. Clinton talked about wholesale changes to the climate of secrecy that the Reagan and Bush presidencies created after Jimmy Carter. One of the things talked about was opening the UFO files (I want to say up front that I’m not making a case, pro or con, in regards to UFOs). I’ll never forget a question that was asked of Clinton during a press conference. When someone asked him about whether he was going to make the UFO files public, Clinton responded that he would because HE, HIMSELF, WAS INTERESTED to find out about what we knew! Clinton also thought that it was time that the American people knew what the government knew in regards to the Kennedy assassination. He felt that there were facts that were being hidden from the public and it was time to put an end to that. I believe it was in 1995 that Clinton set up a commission to gather facts about the investigation that were missed or OMITTED by the Warren report. He was definitely on to something because the Secret Service got wind of the commission BEFORE Clinton made it public and DESTROYED EVERY SINGLE PIECE OF INFORMATION that they had ONE WEEK BEFORE the commission began! How convenient considering the fact that it now looks like the last shot that hit Kennedy in the head (which mortally wounded him) was from an accidental discharge of the AR-15 rifle that a S.S. agent was holding in the car directly behind Kennedy! Again, by the time Clinton decided to run, the American people were tired, for example, of the secrecy that led to the Iran- Contra situation and everything that went along with it.

Barak Obama was elected because of the excesses (financially) of the two wars that we were fighting, as well as the lies that were finally uncovered that got us into the wars, initially. America watched as then Secretary of State, Colin Powell, told the U.N. about WMDs and other lies and half-truths. It was this speech that basically sealed Sadaam Hussein’s fate. The public was also tired of Dick Cheney’s bullying. His steamrolling tactics put a heavy strain on his relationships with Donald Rumsfeld and others in the “Dubya’s” cabinet. The “Cheney apparatus” was basically a shadow administration with Cheney as the “shadow President” or puppet master, pulling Dubya’s strings as he made the key wartime decisions that, secretly and possibly illegally, led us into our war with Iraq. Once these lies and covert activities were discovered, the public was fed-up with a war that they were being told could go on for decades! It was, AGAIN, a case of the public refusing to put ANOTHER MEMBER OF THE OLD BOYS NETWORK back into office. They rejected John McCain in favor of a fresh face and a vision of hope that people so dearly needed in the face of 6-7 years of war and an economic collapse with historic possibilities. Like Bill Clinton, Barak Obama touched people at a visceral level. His speeches spoke of hope and “change we can believe in”. “Change” is what the voters wanted again. They listened as Obama talked of ending the war once in office. He adamantly spoke of closing “Guantanamo Bay”, a promise that was number one in the hearts of a great number of American voters. Just this one promise could have been the garneror of a huge majority of Obama’s votes! It was, and is, an issue that struck people at such a gut level because of the acts of torture perpetrated on the prisoners of war. Americans were ashamed of these acts, dare I say, crimes! Closing Guantanamo was a way for these Americans to forgive themselves and hopefully, for the world, to forgive us! It never happened!

Each of these men had ideal circumstances for them to take advantage of when they chose to run for the presidency. It’s impossible to know whether these men chose to run because they saw the opportunity that was handed to them or if they were going to run anyways and circumstances happened to break right for them. In any event, all three circumstances, all three opportunities and all three men came together to create “a perfect storm” for change to the government of the United States of America”.

Change is a strange thing. If we took a hard look at ourselves, we’d realize that there is a fear of change, in varying degrees, in all of us. The fear comes from the thought of us being taken out of our comfort zones. As we go along in life, we all have to adjust to change as we try to embrace the new things that are occurring around us and to us. We make changes to adjust to a new job, a new boss and new personalities in an environment that we must accept. We make changes to adjust to a new living environment, such as buying a home. Change also represents “something” that we CAN’T control. Consequently, we strive to create situations and environments that are to our liking and won’t change UNLESS WE WANT THEM TO.

The United States Senate is an old and staid institution. Once referred to as “The Old Boys Club”, they have been famous for being set in their ways. The U.S. House of Representatives, although slightly more progressive (at times), is also an institution set in its ways. These two institutions would have to be changed in order for these three men to create a new environment of openness in our government. Since the presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, power has been increasingly flowing towards the president. Slowly but surely, the legislative branch of government has taken a back seat to the President. Presidential power reached its zenith with the George W. Bush administration. In the wake of the 9/11 attacks, Congress granted Bush unprecedented powers. In essence, they really felt that they had no choice, lest they be accused of being “unpatriotic”. This was a very real fear considering what Cheney and his “crew” did to anyone that they felt got in their way. The Congress though, was able to increase its power of secrecy precisely because of the “culture of fear” created by the very attacks on the towers. Everyone agrees that the failure of our intelligence agencies was at the root of our inability to know that the attacks were coming. Consequently, the President, in conjunction with the Congress, created a larger National Security “world”, as opposed to “community” to try to make sure that we don’t get caught with our proverbial “pants down” again. Just another tool for the “G” to use to collect more data and keep more secrets from the citizens, not just of the United States, but also of the world.

Another “institution” that would need to change would be the large and sprawling apparatus referred to as the “Civil Service Community”. More specifically, “Career Civil Servants”. Any government as big as the U.S. Government needs people to staff the hundreds of thousands, maybe millions, of everyday jobs that are required for a government to run smoothly. Growing ever larger as the years have passed, they too jealously protect their jobs and fiefdoms. This institution (for lack of a better word) is a lot harder to get a grasp of. They’re like trying to grab gelatin, as it oozes through your fingers while grasping at it. It absolutely is the largest group to try to corral in order to change the culture of silence and secrecy.  

Although all three Presidents came to power with great hopes and dreams, they were walking into a situation that was doomed from the start. The branches of government, that they so desperately needed help from, had their heels dug in deep to keep anyone from taking more of their cherished powers from them. It simply was doomed from the start. As the saying goes, “It takes two to tango”, and the Government wasn't dancing!

Another problem that each of these men had was that they were all outsiders. Both Carter and Clinton were Governors of states and southern states, for that matter. As the southern states lost respect because of their defiance of the “Civil Rights Act”, their Senators and Representatives slowly lost their influence as well. Therefore, two men from the South, although elected President by the people of the United States, weren't given any respect from the Congress as a whole. They certainly weren't the men that the Congress would have chosen. An example of how important it was to have the backing of the houses of Congress is Lyndon Johnson’s presidency and the terrific amount of legislation that he was able to pass. From 1931 through to 1961, the South had a lock on the speakership of the house. In fact, Sam Rayburn from Texas held the speakership for 17 out of 21 years from 1940 until his death in 1961.  As Rayburn’s protégé, Johnson learned from the “Master of the House” and was himself referred to as the “Master of the Senate”. Although Johnson lost Rayburn’s influence in the house, he had learned enough from him to get what he needed legislatively, when he needed it.

As Jimmy Carter took over the Presidency in January of 1977, he brought with him his “Georgia Mafia”. Every President brings with him to the White House the people who got him there. The problem with Carter’s advisers was that they refused to bend to the will of the “Washington way”. They rubbed the Washington social scene the wrong way, choosing to keep their “Georgia skin” and preferring to go to country music concerts instead of the symphony. Now, that might not have been so bad, if they were willing to learn how to work with the Congress. Carter’s congressional liaison, Frank Moore, was a novice on the national level. He never established a relationship with Tip O'Neill and they down right refused to play the political game of “trading favors” to get legislation passed. Even Lyndon Johnson, with the influence that he had, knew his influence sprang only from his ability to know what it was that every single member of the Senate wanted in order to get his vote. That’s not only how you get legislation passed, it’s how the game of life is played. Carter refused to allow Moore and Hamilton Jordan (another member of the Georgia Mafia) to play this game of “give and take”. They never had a chance from the get-go. As stated before, the Congress is an institution, set in its ways, whose members do not intend to pass legislation for an inconsequential, inexperienced, soon to be one term, Southern President. These members of Congress, fearing the loss now of their “pork”, refused to give up one of the last things that they still had to get themselves re-elected. Jimmy Carter’s high idealism of refusing to trade “pork” for votes, couldn't even get the Democrats to help him out. It was the Senators’ and the Representatives’ fear of losing control of their ability to guide their destinies by not being able to bring jobs and money back to their states and districts, that doomed Carter’s hopes of fundamentally changing government. I believe Carter felt that if he could have four years of passing legislation, in this new “pristine” (without the “dirty” backroom deals that Carter found to be revolting) fashion, it would start a proverbial snowball effect, forever changing the way the Congress conducted its business. To Carter’s credit, he certainly stuck to what he believed in. He never wavered in his four years from this tactic.

Bill Clinton was elected because of the growing frustration with the previous twelve years of Republican dominance of the White House. He had the misfortune though, of coming into office at a time in history when politics was becoming “toxic”. After winning the White House for the last three elections, the Republicans developed an arrogance that absolutely blinded them to the fact that now that there was no Soviet threat, the American public was turning its focus inward and they didn't like what they saw. Americans were finally concluding that they were sold a bill of goods about “trickle-down economics” (Repubs. are still advocating for it) and the example of its failure was evident as the economy was in a down-turn as we entered the campaign season for the 1992 Presidential elections. “It’s the economy STUPID” became a famous Clinton campaign slogan. Being embarrassed by losing the White House to a relatively unknown southern Governor, the Republicans hit back. We all agree that Bill Clinton was no saint. All the sordid information that came out, starting in the campaign, deserved to come out. After all, we are talking about shedding the cover of secrecy in government. Yet, Newt Gingrich and the Republican’s took it too far. The nastiness and downright lies went too far, setting an example for the kind of politics we have today. Yes, the voting public needs to be informed but when that goes too far and lies start to dominate the atmosphere, we get to the point that we’re at now... dysfunction! As Barak Obama has discovered, the Republicans have no shame and that started with Bill Clinton. Now, to be fair, the Democrats have their “snakes” but you’d be hard pressed to count them on one hand. Newt’s “orchestration” of “his” government shutdown was a blueprint for today’s version that we are just coming out of. What is so baffling is the fact that they couldn't see the forest for the trees. How could they have overlooked the fact that Newt’s shutdown ruined his career and only served to bolster Clinton’s ratings! What the Republicans decided in 1994, to refuse to work with Bill Clinton, they have carried over to today with President Obama. It has created an environment of total stagnation. Again, more deceit and secrecy.

Another Republican answer to being embarrassed by Clinton’s election was to cede control of the party to the radicals. A situation that the moderates have yet to wrestle back from them. Again, as with Jimmy Carter, Clinton was an outsider. But, Clinton learned from Carter’s mistakes. He had experienced people with him who knew how the culture of Washington was and was willing to play ball with the Congress. Unfortunately, for Bill Clinton, he made a couple of early mistakes with the Congress which almost sidelined his Presidency the minute he made the first one. That first mistake was putting his wife Hillary in charge of the Democrats’ first attempt at “Health Care Reform”. If there was anyone that the Republicans despised more than Bill, it was Hillary. Her attempt at health care was doomed from the start. Even with Clinton’s more experienced advisors, I think that this move (Hillary wasn't elected to anything yet) upset even their closest Democratic supporters.

As I stated before, there is an inherent adversarial relationship between the Congress and the White House. This is true even when the President’s own party holds sway in both houses. Such was the case with President Carter’s presidency. In fact, the 95th Congress was the first one since 1965 where any party, in this case, the Democrats, had a filibuster proof 60% majority. Yet, Carter’s tactics would deepen that adversarial relationship and be the reason behind him losing an unprecedented opportunity to put his stamp on a new culture in American politics. In Bill Clinton’s case, he only had a Democratic majority for his first two years. The last six years of Clinton’s presidency was a brutal exercise in futility that was highlighted by the government shutdown, bitter political accusations and eventually his impeachment trial. It seems that Clinton’s impeachment was a forbearer for the next two presidencies to have to worry about because politicians realized how damaging this could be to a President. What I’m talking about is the fact that both Bush and Obama have had to worry about their political rivals making accusations of impropriety and there being this hush-hush talk of impeachment. There never was a beginning of such events, but there were rumblings that lie just underneath the surface.

Today’s relationship between President Obama and the Republican controlled Congress is, and will be, legendary. I don't need to go into the specifics because anyone interested in reading this post will know the highlights, and lowlights, of this relationship. What I will say is that because of the relationship, America got a watered-down Healthcare bill. That’s both parties’ fault.

President Obama started out on the campaign trail as, what some would say, a “Maverick”. His campaign’s ability and connection to social media fueled a finance juggernaut that no one had seen before. He had financial advisers, initially, who gave him terrific advice as he campaigned his way to the Presidency. Remember, America was just hit with an economic catastrophe that threatened our financial existence. Unfortunately, in the interregnum before he took office, Obama was told that his financial advisors would never be confirmed for the positions that he wanted for them and in no uncertain terms- “get rid of them now”! He caved, a bad example to set before he even took office.

Obama’s promise to close Guantanamo Bay was a key factor in him being elected. Yet, as the beginning months of his Presidency passed, people started to realize that Obama wasn’t going to keep this promise. We need to remember that Obama’s advisers were some of the same people who worked for Clinton. Men like Rahm Emanuelle were tough scrappers who’d been bloodied in the congressional wars of the 1990s. They knew what was going to be needed to make Obama’s presidency a success, or so they thought. What they did do was to realize when it was time to acquiesce and compromise. I believe that is exactly what Obama did with Guantanamo. It is useless to beat your head against the wall when you know it will never crack! Obama learned that sometimes it’s better to go along to get along.

I also think that Obama came to realize that what he wanted to do, open up the government and its secrets, pull us out of Iraq and restore the civil rights that had been trampled on by the Bush administration, were actually things that were going to be a great benefit to him in the end. Being able to finally track down and kill Osama Bin Laden was the decisive factor, I believe. The huge National Security World was reaping great benefits for Obama and it was simply too tempting NOT to use their information. Obama has made the “Drone Program” a fixture in the war on terror and has already learned how to fend off questions about the programs legality. As we watch Obama over the years, we can visibly see him change from an outsider to someone who is starting to fit in with “business as usual” I fear it is basically too late for the latest attempt by a President to change the culture of secrecy and deceit in government. This President has chosen to use the new laws to gather information to his advantage as opposed to change them and restore the civil liberties of the American public. Again, another chance for change is lost.

Trying to write about how to change the culture of the career civil servant is extremely difficult. Because these individuals are private not elected employees, there is no way to get to understand each individual’s thinking. There are possibly millions who have different political beliefs and they are loyal NOT to the President in power but to their immediate boss and possibly HIS/HER political leanings. The fact remains that these people have a job to keep and they too, will do what’s needed to keep that position. Trying to get the State Department to change the way they do things in their everyday functions, was and is, an impossible task that every Secretary of State, over the last 50- 60 years, has commented on. It just doesn’t happen overnight. Unfortunately, these are the very people who make the government work on a daily basis!

We are at a crossroads today as to how our government will function given the ferocity of the accusations thrown across the aisle from Republican to Democrat and Democrat to Republican. There is gridlock, the likes of which we’ve never seen before. People are frustrated and we’ve yet to find anyone who can fix this mess. Three different Presidents have lost opportunities to change the culture of secrecy and deceit  as well as divisiveness that threatens the world’s greatest Democracy. No, I’m not a “sky is falling” type of guy, nor do I think our system of government will fall. I do believe though, that if something isn’t done soon, America will have consequences to pay that I don’t believe we can contemplate now!

So, again, that’s “As I understand it now... ‘til it changes.” Let me know what you think.

Michael K. Stichauf