Friday, September 16, 2016

Background Checks and Fingerprints



Recently the State of Texas altered the requirements for the renewal process licensed locksmiths must complete in order to continue applying their skills in what used to be a free market system.  The Department of Public Safety/Private Security Bureau, (DPS/PSB) working under their interpretation of HB 4030 passed during the 84th session, has determined that locksmiths must have yet another set of official fingerprints submitted along with a complete background check in order to maintain a valid locksmith license.

While visiting my father, holding his aging hand as we watched some insignificant golf show on the television, I noticed his fingers were a bit discolored as his circulatory system no longer functioned at peak efficiency.  It’s just a guess; but you could bet the farm the fingerprints on his hands would be the same ones he’s had since birth, the same ones he had when he signed up with the Navy in WWII and the same ones he’ll have when he meets St. Peter on the other side of the veil.

Some where in Washington, as the singer Arlo Guthrie would point out in his tune, Alice’s Restaurant, there’s a study in black and white of his fingerprints…   

These identifying marks don’t change all that much over time so it’s beyond my thought process as to why the State of Texas considers it necessary, requiring locksmiths to furnish a fresh set of these prints simply to renew a license... a license which has that very same set of fingerprints already tied to it and filed away collecting dust. 

About the only thing such a requirement does is add $25.00 to the cost of doing business for each and every locksmith while accomplishing absolutely nothing towards the State of Texas’ goal, “protection of the public through fair and impartial regulation of the Private Investigations and Private Security Industry”

Then there’s the requirement of another complete and thorough background check in order to maintain an already issued locksmith license; that bothers me too.  Actually, the veins in my neck are pulsing and may explode while thinking about this.

The State of Texas conducts a complete and thorough background check of each individual prior to issuing a locksmith license.  If the State wants to find out whether or not a licensed locksmith has committed a noteworthy criminal act since the last time he/she went through the licensing process then all the State’s investigators would have to do would be to bring up a standard criminal check on their computer, not much different than the way police officers are able to find out the same information while on patrol; it takes only a minute, sometimes less.

If someone can explain why the State of Texas considers locksmiths…locksmiths who’ve already been fingerprinted, had their background checked six ways to Sunday and then issued a license…if someone can explain why the State of Texas considers locksmiths a threat or danger to the public...  Could you hand me my blood pressure medicine; those veins are swelling some more.

Yesterday I received an email from the DPS/PSB letting me know my latest renewal efforts were finally accepted and that my pocket sized wallet card would be sent in a timely manner.

Do you see why the updated renewal process bothers me? 

This article has been cross posted to The Moral Liberal, a publication whose banner reads, “Defending The Judeo-Christian Ethic, Limited Government, & The American Constitution”.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Dealing with bureaucrats



My locksmith license is up for renewal, something which happens every other year.  Lucy decided to use the new easy and convenient on-line service provided by the Texas Department of Public Safety/Private Security Bureau (DPS/PSB).  Locksmiths in Texas were forced into being licensed in 2004 and we have submitted to our masters ever since, paying the state for the privilege to apply our skills. 

On August 30th, while I was out of town on family business, Lucy attempted to use the State’s internet forms so that my locksmith license would be updated in a timely manner.  The internet forms had some ‘glitches’, at least that’s what Ryan Garcia of the DPS/PSB explained as he reassured us the licensing renewal process would eventually work as planned.

When reading my email each morning I’m greeted with a notification from the DPS/PSB explaining that my locksmith license renewal cannot be processed due to incomplete data even though Ryan Garcia assured us that my locksmith license would be reissued and that they had all the pertinent data already.

  
Looking at the required fields I found it odd that the DPS/PSB was requiring a DD 214.  I actually have one showing my honorable discharge from the U.S. Army back in 1971.  Not sure why the State of Texas considers military experience a requirement for obtaining a locksmith license; but I’ll send them a copy if they actually need it.

I’m a bit confused regarding their need for a Background Check seeing as how that should already be in their files; my having been licensed back in 2004.  Did they lose all that important data? 

Perhaps the DPS/PSB has been renewing my locksmith license all these years and never bothered to do the original background investigation; wouldn’t that be a hoot…

Hmmmm....  I started my business career delivering newspapers for Newsday at the age of 11.  My contact was a fellow named Bernie, sorry no last name; he drove the box truck that had newspapers bundled in batches of fifty for all the delivery boys.  He’d toss them on the ground behind the supermarket and we’d load them on our bicycles. 

Next on the list of jobs was Maber Egg Company here in Houston.  I might have been 14 at the time; but lied about my age, said I was 16 to get the job.  I got fired for getting into an egg fight with the boss' son, a fight I won hands down. 

Another of the ‘kid jobs’; Harry Martin Catering Company, where I started out as a vendor selling peanuts, popcorn and soda at the Astrodome.  Eventually I became a member of a commissary crew filling soda cups for the other vendors.  That’s where I met Lucy, the love of my life; she was the popcorn girl.

Add to the list, Sewell’s Texaco, Montgomery Ward, the Houston Police Department where I retired after twenty years of service and of course, T. F. Stern & Company, where I’ve been applying my skills as owner and locksmith since 1978.  If I’ve left off any jobs, chalk it off to old age; but it looks mostly complete.

Lucy’s locksmith license arrived in the mail yesterday, a license she has no need of since she’s listed as a co-owner of the business only and has never pretended to be a locksmith.

I’m still waiting for Ryan Garcia, a paid employee for the State of Texas to return our phone call.  Sure hope I pass the background check; either that or start work at my next job, Brain Surgeon, at least they don’t require a DD 214.

This article has been cross posted to The Moral Liberal, a publication whose banner reads, “Defending The Judeo-Christian Ethic, Limited Government, & The American Constitution”.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Creatures of Habit





The other morning when going to prepare a bowl of oatmeal I noticed there was only one “A.C. Elliot Bowl” in the pantry instead of two.  There had been six to start with; but as the years have gone by their numbers have dwindled. 

You might ask, “How is it the bowls have a proper name?”, a reasonable question…

When I was a police officer working in downtown Houston my partner and I would occasionally have lunch at a small Chinese restaurant near the Eastex Freeway elevated.  I asked the owner where I could purchase bowls similar to the kind they had and was told to go down the street to a place called A.C. Elliot. 

There was no place called A.C. Elliot, nothing close as I asked her to step outside and point to the store.  She shook her head in such a way as to say, “Stupid cop can’t see the nose on his face”, as she pointed two blocks down to a wholesale house with a big sign out front, Asiatic Imports.  How could I have been so dense…

I’ve grown accustomed to placing two packets of instant oatmeal in my A.C. Elliot Bowl each morning followed by just the right amount of boiling water and a lump of butter. 

What has this got to do with the price of eggs?  (Pardon the colloquial expression)

My mother died this past Monday and there are so many thoughts and emotions running through my head as to make it spin.  When I noticed an A.C. Elliot Bowl was missing an odd thought came to mind; that of a desperately sick young woman looking out her window to see if there were any leaves left on the vine.  She had imagined that her life would end the day The Last Leaf fell off. 

A winter storm was blowing hard and most of the leaves on the vine blew off as evening drew near.  There wasn’t much hope any of them would last until morning as the young woman went off to bed, the look of death creeping onto her cheeks.

Much to everyone's surprise, upon opening the curtain one lone leaf had somehow managed to survive the storm as it bravely held onto the wall; but upon closer inspection the vine was no longer attached to the leaf.

A clumsy old alcoholic was found dead in the alley the next morning half buried in a pile of fresh snow.  He’d spent the night on a ladder in the cold and damp as he painted his masterpiece on the wall directly across from the young woman’s window, a perfect replication of the last leaf on the vine.  He’d created the miracle of hope for another individual with his last efforts.

Isn’t that an odd thought to come up with while making a bowl of oatmeal?

I’ll figure out how to manage the mix of thoughts and emotions that have landed upon my consciousness; it might take some time.  While driving to a job I won’t be able to call her on the phone as we pass the miles talking about the weather, the Astros, cats or what ever; that’s something I’ve come to enjoy these many years. 

We are creatures of habit.  Right now there’s an emptiness where something familiar is missing.  I’m so glad there’s at least one A.C. Elliot Bowl left in the cabinet.

This article has been cross posted to The Moral Liberal, a publication whose banner reads, “Defending The Judeo-Christian Ethic, Limited Government, & The American Constitution”.

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Watching someone drop the ball



Last night during the Astros' game with the Minnesota Twins center fielder, Carlos Gomez, didn’t get the job done.  Perhaps that’s an understatement as he let a ball get by him and turned a single into an RBI two base error and permitted the batter to reach third. 

Bad as that was, Gomez managed to follow that botched play with yet another screw up as he lost track of a fly ball that should have been caught; but instead landed several feet away.  Remember the man on third, the one who should have been at first except for a two base error, that man scored and the batter ended up with a ‘gimme’ triple since the ball was ‘lost in the lights’.

I won’t print what the pitcher, Collin McHugh said, use your imagination; but it was captured on film for all who can read lips.  Let’s just say it follows the thought pattern of, “You have got to be kidding!”, only with a more common street verbiage and tone.

I mention this as a lead in for what’s going on in our country.  ‘We The People’ are standing on the mound as the ball(s) get dropped  over and over

We have an individual running for President of the United States of America who has managed to avoid being charged and prosecuted for crimes which would have the average individual before a firing squad, the gallows or serving life in prison without chance of parole.  

The FBI made their case against Hillary Clinton only to back off at the last moment and have FBI Director James Comey tell ‘We The People’ that the charges shouldn’t be filed because they couldn’t prove intent. 

Did I hear, “You have got to be kidding me”, or was it the cruder version as stated by the Astros' pitcher in last night’s game?

It should be noted, none of the felonies which Hillary violated in regard to lost email or improper us of email required ‘intent’; simply that the crime occurred, either by willful intent or neglect did not matter.

We could say the FBI and Justice Department lost it in the lights, much as Gomez let the ball avoid his glove. 

‘We The People’ are standing on the mound, figuratively speaking, watching this unfold before our eyes.   I can assure you my exclamation matched up with the Astros’ pitcher… and those who can read lips know what I said.

This article has been cross posted to The Moral Liberal, a publication whose banner reads, “Defending The Judeo-Christian Ethic, Limited Government, & The American Constitution”.

Friday, July 22, 2016

If You’re in Trouble Find a Policeman



I’m sixty five years old and recognize the blessing in being able to call my mother on the phone; makes her claim of being 37 going on 38 much harder to believe, just sayin’.  The other day she expressed her gratitude that I’d served as a police officer; but at the same time was relieved I’d retired as each passing day brought headlines of police officers being ambushed and murdered.

If you’ve been keeping up with the news it wouldn’t be much of a stretch to say there’s a War on Cops. 

Remember when children were taught to find a policeman if they got lost or were in trouble?  “Policemen are your friends” and we all nodded as the lessons were presented in 1st Grade. 

I’ll never forget the first time I met a policeman face to face.  It was the middle of winter and my brother and I had been hiding behind a short row of hedges, giving us cover to throw snowballs at passing cars.  We’d pop up, let ‘em fly and watch as drivers skidded on the slick pavement when the snowballs slammed into them.  It was great fun.

Getting back to my first face to face meeting with a policeman…  We were hunched down listening to the tires crunching snow and waiting for the vehicle to arrive at precisely the right location in relationship to our planned attack.  We popped up, let ‘em fly and at that same moment realized that our intended target was a police car. 

The blood in our legs froze solid as we stood silently, unable to move let alone run.  The policeman stopped, opened the door and quietly walked over to us with a wry smile on his face; we, on the other hand were having trouble breathing.

He placed us in the police car and drove us home, just a couple of blocks.  Most of this part was a blur; but I remember my mother opening the door and talking briefly with the policeman prior to letting my brother and me enter the house.  She did thank him for being understanding and assured him it wouldn’t happen again.  

Hard to believe that one day I’d join the police department and serve for twenty years.  

I remember one night driving up on a bunch of kids who were ‘toilet papering’ a house during football season.  A couple of them ran off into the darkness as soon as they recognized the police car; but others froze in place, much as I had so many years ago.

Interestingly, the house these kids were ‘toilet papering’ belonged to one of their friends; it was something of an honor to have your trees, bushes and house covered with long streams of toilet paper following a big win. 

I explained that it might be a good idea to clean up the mess they’d made, never getting out of the car.  They hadn’t really considered their actions as criminal mischief, at least not until a policeman pointed it out; never mind the healthy grin on my face.

Reading about policemen being ambushed and murdered turns my stomach; officers shot while sitting in their patrol cars or walking up to quell a disturbance as assassins hid behind bushes.  The officers in Dallas were protecting protesters, protesters protesting police when snipers hidden in a multilevel parking garage opened fire.

Dallas massacre of police: FBI investigating anti-police group that attended Dallas mosque
JULY 8, 2016 10:26 AM BY ROBERT SPENCER
The Hamas-linked Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and other Islamic supremacist groups have assiduously courted Black Lives Matter, and linked their propaganda efforts against “Islamophobia” to the Black Lives Matter stand against perceived racism. In Dallas last night, we see where this is tending: as Kyle Shideler notes in the March article below, “At the event, MAS leader Khalilah Sabra openly discussed the importance of Muslim support for Black Lives Matter, and urged ‘revolution.’ Comparing the situation in the United States to the Muslim Brotherhood-led Arab Spring revolutions, she asked, ‘We are the community that staged a revolution across the world; if we can do that, why can’t we have that revolution in America?’” And with the mass murder of police in Dallas last night, we’re getting there.” (emphasis added)

These are cold blooded murders, planned in advance using tactical strategy as if it were a military operation; that makes it a War on Cops by an enemy with a long term agenda.

Perhaps one day our children will once again be taught, “If you ever find yourself lost or in trouble, go find a policeman”.  Our country is in trouble as each attack on a police officer is an attack on all of America. 

Pray for our country; more specifically that all police officers make it home after their shift ends.


This article has been cross posted to The Moral Liberal, a publication whose banner reads, “Defending The Judeo-Christian Ethic, Limited Government, & The American Constitution”.

Monday, July 18, 2016

When does Media Spin become a Lie?


There was another ambush of police officers, this time 3 officers were murdered in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  Many of the media outlets were quick to point out the ‘alleged’ shooter was an ex-Marine who’d served a tour in Afghanistan. 

This was from Yahoo News; but the headline matched most other media outlets.

“BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) – A former Marine dressed in black and carrying extra ammunition ambushed police in Baton Rouge, shooting and killing three law enforcement officers less than two weeks after a black man was fatally shot by police there in a confrontation that sparked nightly protests that reverberated nationwide.”  

There would appear to be no argument the shooter had been a Marine; and as we’ve been warned over and over by the Obama administration, returning military members are considered potential domestic terrorists.

Obama’s Homeland Security isn’t alone in their assessment of returning veterans being threats, unfit to own firearms. 

“Sen Dianne Feinstein (D. Cal.) has long been a fanatic gun control advocate.  Yesterday, she upped the ante by declarating that all military vets, merely because they are vets, are mentally ill. On that ground alone she insists that vets should be denied any exemption to her extremist gun control bill.”

The media must have considered the Baton Rouge shooter’s having been a Marine much more important than his having been linked to Nation of Islam.  Most outlets never even mention it, and if they did it was buried far into the article.

The ‘alleged shooter’, according to the Daily Caller, Gavin Eugene Long, was a ‘former’ member Nation of Islam. 

“Videos on Long’s account show that he was a former Nation of Islam member. He also ranted against “crackers” and made references to Alton Sterling, the black man killed by police in Baton Rouge on July 5.”

You might recall Louis Farrakhan, founder of Nation of Islam, calling for 10,000 volunteers to “Stalk them and kill them”, referring to any White person.  I guess Gavin Eugene Long took Farrakhan up on the offer.  Does that make Farrakhan an accessory to murder?    

Which is more of a threat to society, being a former Marine or being associated with radical Islam?  

Obama refuses to use the term Islamic Terrorist and the lapdog media continues to minimize any link to radical Islam when reporting their version of ‘news’. 

At what point does media spin become a lie? 

This article has been cross posted to The Moral Liberal, a publication whose banner reads, “Defending The Judeo-Christian Ethic, Limited Government, & The American Constitution”.

Sunday, July 03, 2016

I can’t sing the National Anthem



Well, that’s not quite true; I can’t sing the National Anthem without tears dripping down my cheeks and a large knot forming in my throat.  You see, I know some of the story about how this tune came about.

This morning as we closed our church service the closing hymn was The Star Spangled Banner.  I wonder if other denominations have that in their hymn book; I would hope so.

The congregation arose as the choir master stood to lead us, the first notes played by the organist sent a shiver down my spine.  I really did try to sing out, honest; but emotions got the better of me so I let everyone else pay tribute to our nation while I mouthed the words, tears welling up in the corner of my eyes.

I’ve been battling a chest cold and these emotions got my sinuses going full blast.  I didn’t need this; damn it all, now I’m congested again.

As we stood through all three verses my mind imagined the night Francis Scott Key stood watching as Ft. Henry was to be shelled into oblivion by the British Navy.  You see, the British were still miffed for having lost the Revolutionary War and decided to give it another ‘go’ a few years later; historians called it the War of 1812.

The British had given the occupants of Ft. Henry a way out; simply lower your flag and become subjects of British rule.  Their situation was impossible as hundreds of British war ships pounded this insignificant fort all through the night…and yet the flag remained, lighted as it were by the bombs bursting in air.

The British commander was perplexed and couldn’t fathom why they didn’t surrender; there was no way they could win.

Francis Scott Key said he remembered what George Washington had said. He said, “The thing that sets the American Christian apart from all other people in the world is he will die on his feet before he'll live on his knees.”

In the morning, by the dawn’s early light, the flag could still be seen from the deck of the British war ship, tattered and leaning at a peculiar angle it remained standing to everyone’s amazement. 

Apparently each time the flag had been knocked down a brave man would stand it up in spite of the horrendous shelling.  Many died keeping that flag upright and standing and as far as I know their names we never recorded.

I guess some of our youth haven’t been properly taught the importance of our flag and some of what goes into being a citizen of this great nation.

Years ago during a baseball game someone recorded what has been called “the greatest play in baseball”.  It happened on April 25, 1976 when a couple of malcontents jumped onto the ball field in the middle of a game and tried to light an American Flag on fire.  Rick Monday, an outfielder for the Dodgers ran over, grabbed the Flag and saved it to the delight of most everyone watching.

Far too many folks go about disrespecting our country through their hostility when destroying or demeaning the Flag.  Some stomp on it, like home grown terrorist Bill Ayers, good friend and supporter of Barrack Obama.  Others use it like toilet paper while displaying obscenities at the camera.  Heaven help them should I happen by while they disrespect the Flag in my presence. 

I wish I knew the name of even one person who died at Ft. Henry while holding up that Flag, a symbol of never giving up in the face of insurmountable odds.  Perhaps they’ll forgive my not being a better historian; certainly they’ll understand my not being able to sing out this morning.

But I know the words to that familiar tune; yes I know them all too well as my chest swells with pride and my eyes fill with tears.

The Star-Spangled Banner
1. Oh say, can you see, by the dawn’s early light,
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming,
Whose broad stripes and bright stars, through the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof thru the night that our flag was still there.
Oh say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

2. On the shore, dimly seen thru the mists of the deep,
Where the foe’s haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o’er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines on the stream;
’Tis the star-spangled banner! Oh, long may it wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

3. Oh, thus be it ever, when free men shall stand
Between their loved homes and the war’s desolation!
Blest with vict’ry and peace, may the heav’n-rescued land
Praise the Pow’r that hath made and preserved us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: “In God is our trust!”
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

This article has been cross posted to The Moral Liberal, a publication whose banner reads, “Defending The Judeo-Christian Ethic, Limited Government, & The American Constitution”.