old coots’ club

Yesterday a group of dead old coots welcomed me into their society: “The Northern Sonoran Desert Eccentrics.” Their notification from the other side of the veil was delivered through my friend Emmett, the son of their leader.

“My dad, the guy holding the Moses’ staff, would want me to bestow membership on you; no dues will be collected, as all members are deemed to have already paid their dues in one form or another,” said Emmett’s e-mail…

…adding that he would have sent this notification as a comment to yesterday’s post except he couldn’t figure out how to upload the picture. (Hell, I don’t know how to do it either in the comments. I need a 10-year-old to show me how.)

If you’ll put yourself in my position, you know a guy who works on parricides all day has to think twice whenever anyone compares him to their dad. But based on past evidence of Emmett’s admiration for his father I could only regard it as the highest compliment. I take it seriously. Thank you, Emmett.

Anyway, I do want to thank the Academy for this honor… but to tell you the truth, I don’t quite know what to think of it. I live in the Chihuahuan Desert, not the Sonoran, and I’m not dead yet.

Also, it’s unclear whether Emmett is in actual communication with these dead old coots, or if he is the last living member of their club. Emmett never did specifically claim to have the powers of a spirit medium; he  just may be a closeted eccentric himself. Workdays he’s an attorney who speaks to large groups of judges and other lawyers. Emmett  owns a lot of neckties.

Either way he’s authorized to have conferred the membership. So it’s official.

I’m a harmless old coot.

Emmett said the thing that put me over the top in my audition was sailing through the checkpoint with an exaggerated waive by the cops; “Such a waive is a demonstration by the cops to you and the world that you are a bona fide weirdo, they know it, and are broadcasting as much to the world,” he said.

“The benefit of such a broadcast is that there is no interest or reason in stopping you because you are liable to launch into some sort of diatribe that is not offensive in tone but simply irrelevant to their TAH [task at hand]; and also because they fear that you might smell as they are uncertain of your bathing habits.”

Emmett is a helluva analyst, don’t you think? He also offered some “continuing education” suggestions for technical refinements based on the club members’ collective wisdom. (Being a cardholder does have its benefits.)

“You will be waived through checkpoints throughout the Big Bend as your ability to radiate ‘simply harmless’ grows. It’s the next best thing to being completely invisible; in fact, once you become ‘simply harmless’ even a bag of weed on your dashboard won’t get you into trouble because they won’t notice it,” he said.

I like the way this guy thinks. He’s got the Jedi thing down pat.

Emmett also warned me about the Kaczynski Effect. “Be careful not to become too reclusive as it arouses suspicion. Best way to put a damper on possible Kaczynski projections is to speak to anyone at any time who will listen to you, especially cops. Next time you see a roadblock, head straight for it as though it was a surprise party being thrown in your honor. Nothing like hiding out in the wide-open.”

Emmett should be my lawyer. He gets it. His advice could keep me out of jail.

Emmett said something that has got me to thinking: “All of those guys were driving before insurance was compulsory, including Orville who never drove nothing but his mule.”  

Old coots remember what it was like before the governmental authority began encroaching on our personal freedoms.

They know nonsense when they see it and can shun it off… maybe even getting away with operating only within the constraints of what we know to be common sense, regardless of whatever some gerrymandered law might say.

The main thing is to avoid friction and conflict. Conflict will only draw unwanted attention.

Yet avoiding conflict does become more difficult when the authorities begin working at cross-purposes with things into which you’re investing your limited time and energy. If you will read Val’s comment to yesterday’s post, you’ll see a good case in point.

I’m trying to encourage Val to invest himself in our particular dot on the map, and the Sheriff’s deputies are creating an environment hostile to young people like him. Patrick so wants to see things in a certain way he can literally smell it. If he knew Val as I do, the thought of making a pot bust would never have entered his mind, much less his nostrils.

We need bright, hard-working, ethical young people to invest themselves in this place and its traditions. What the deputies are doing with their authority here is bad politics and bad economic development. Plus it’s incompetent community policing, which is based on knowing people on your beat and working in friendlier, more informal, and more effective ways.

As a harmless old coot I have learned to sideslip the thorns by denying authority its power. The young, however, cannot avoid the lacerations so easily. They have a greater tendency to defy authority, which creates friction, which unfortunately creates more intrusion and contraindicated heavy-handed policing.

(Or, in a place like this, when they’re old enough the young people simply move away to someplace else where they can become lost in a crowd and explore their limits. It’s usually the best and the brightest who leave first.)

I’m an old coot. I can see it all.


Groove of the Day

Listen to Brad Paisley performing “Mr. Policeman”

11 Responses to “old coots’ club”

  1. 1 Emmett
    May 25, 2011 at 1:18 pm

    Dad advises that you open the Chihuahuan Chapter of the Desert Eccentrics. He’s certain you have enough friends down there to make more than the necessary minimum quorum.

    He also advises against investing in BP, something about bad karma and shellfish; maybe he means you should invest in Shell Oil, maybe he’s just worried about this year’s oyster harvest. I’ll find out and get back to you on that point.

    He also says it’s a good idea to set your cruise control 2 mph below the speed limit and never drive down a hill any faster than you drove up that hill. Yeah, just sit back and take it all in; you don’t want to miss a thing.

    • May 25, 2011 at 1:45 pm

      The Men’s Prayer Breakfast meets at the Grub Shack once a month. We could meet there too.

      Maybe your dad is suggesting we pay our tab with fossilized clamshells. If so, Estrella Vista is sitting on top of a fortune.

      Tell him I always drive 10 mph below the speed limit anyway. There’s no need to be in a hurry about anything out here. You’d miss too much.

  2. 3 andy rea
    May 25, 2011 at 2:18 pm

    GHSA Home
    Law Charts
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    Sobriety Checkpoint Laws
    May 2011

    Sobriety checkpoints (also called DUI checkpoints) are locations where law enforcment officers are stationed to check drivers for signs of intoxication and impairment. Many jurisdictions utilize sobriety checkpoints as part of their larger drunk driving deterrance program.

    Due to legal issues surrounding their use, not all states conduct sobriety checkpoints. Some states have laws authorizing their use. Others forbid them or are silent on the issue.

    Learn More About Drunk Driving
    State Laws
    Drunk Driving
    Drug Impaired Driving

    Issue Brief

    Survey of the States Published 2001

    Drunk Driving. Over the Limit. Under Arrest.

    Related Links

    States with no explicit statutory authority may or may not conduct checkpoints. In many states, the judiciary has stepped in to uphold or restrict sobriety checkpoints based on interpretation of state or federal Constitutions.

    38 states, the District of Columbia, the Northern Mariana Islands and the Virgin Islands conduct sobriety checkpoints.
    In 12 states, sobriety checkpoints are not conducted.
    In 5 states, they are are prohibited either explicitly by state law or by interpretation of state law
    They are illegal under the state Constitution in another 5 states.
    Texas prohibits them based on the its interpretation of the U.S. Constitution.
    Alaska lacks state authority to conduct them.
    State Checkpoints Conducted? Frequency Legality
    Alabama Yes Throughout the year Upheld under federal Constitution
    Alaska No No state authority
    Arizona Yes At least once per month Upheld under federal Constitution
    Arkansas Yes Weekly Upheld under state and federal Constitution
    California Yes Once or twice a month Upheld under state and federal Constitution
    Colorado Yes Once or twice a month Upheld under state and federal Constitution
    Connecticut Yes Upheld under state Constitution
    Delaware Yes Monthly January to June; weekly June through December Upheld under state law and federal Constitution
    D.C. Yes Once or twice a month Upheld under federal Constitution
    Florida Yes Between 15-20 per month Upheld under federal Constitution
    Georgia Yes Weekly Upheld under state and federal Constitution
    Hawaii Yes Weekly Authorized by statute
    Idaho No Illiegal under state law
    Illinois Yes Several hundred per year Upheld under federal Constitution
    Indiana Yes Upheld under state Constitution
    Iowa No Not permitted – statute authorizing roadblock controls does not authorize sobriety checkpoints
    Kansas Yes Once or twice a month Upheld under state law and federal Constitution
    Kentucky Yes Weekly Upheld under federal Constitution
    Louisiana Yes Upheld under state Constitution
    Maine Yes Upheld under federal Constitution
    Maryland Yes Weekly Upheld under state and federal Constitution
    Massachusetts Yes Year round Upheld under state and federal Constitution
    Michigan No Illegal under state Constitution
    Minnesota No Illegal under state Constitution
    Mississippi Yes Weekly Upheld under federal Constitution
    Missouri Yes Once or twice a month Upheld under state and federal Constitution
    Montana No Statute permits only safety spotchecks
    Nebraska Yes 6 – 10 per month Upheld under state law
    Nevada Yes Once or twice a month Authorized by statute
    New Hampshire Yes Weekly, weather permitting Authorized by statute (must be judicially approved)
    New Jersey Yes Once or twice a month Upheld under state and federal Constitution
    New Mexico Yes Upheld under state and federal Constitution (law enforcement must follow guidelines)
    New York Yes Weekly Upheld under federal Constitution
    North Carolina Yes Weekly Authorized by statute
    North Dakota Yes Upheld under state and federal Constitution
    Northern Mariana Islands Yes Twice a month
    Ohio Yes Year round Upheld under state and federal Constitution
    Oklahoma Yes Once or twice a month Upheld under state and federal Constitution
    Oregon No Illegal under state Constitution
    Pennsylvania Yes Several hundred per year Upheld under state and federal Constitution
    Rhode Island No Illegal under state Constitution
    South Carolina Yes No state authority
    South Dakota Yes Weekly Upheld under state and federal Constitution
    Tennessee Yes Once or twice a month Upheld under state and federal Constitution
    Texas No Illegal under Texas’ interpretation of federal Constitution
    Utah Yes About every other month Authorized by statute
    Vermont Yes Weekly Upheld under state and federal Constitution
    Virgin Islands Yes Monthly and during national mobilizations and local festivals and carnivals
    Virginia Yes Weekly Upheld under state and federal Constitution
    Washington No Illegal under state Constitution
    West Virginia Yes Weekly Upheld under state and federal Constitution
    Wisconsin No Prohibited by statute
    Wyoming No Prohibited by interpretation of roadblock statute
    Total States 38 + D.C., Northern Mariana Islands, Virgin Islands
    Sources: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and State Highway Safety Offices.

    Disclaimer: The information on this page is for general information purposes only and is not to be considered legal authority. For clarification on any law, consult the appropriate State Highway Safety Office.

    © 2011 Governors Highway Safety Association, 444 N. Capitol Street, NW, Suite 722, Washington DC 20001-1534
    phone 202.789.0942 , fax 202.789.0946, headquarters@ghsa.org

  3. 4 Matt
    May 25, 2011 at 3:42 pm

    “If you’ll put yourself in my position, you know a guy who works on parricides all day has to think twice whenever anyone compares him to their dad.”

    Too funny! ROFLMAO

    • May 25, 2011 at 4:19 pm

      Okay young fella… I’m so old I had to look up what ROFLWAO means. At least I remembered where to look. For anyone who is even less hip than me, this abbreviation means Rolling on Floor Laughing My Ass Off.

      • 6 Gloria
        May 25, 2011 at 5:03 pm

        LOL Dan, thanks for the information, I was wondering as well,(I can get that far as “LOL” AND “LMAO”) I agree with Matt, too funny. 🙂

  4. 7 andy rea
    May 25, 2011 at 3:46 pm

    08-26-2005, 06:26 PM
    If you check the case law, you will see that the Supreme Court has ruled that they are not an infringement of your rights, provided that the authorities follow certain guidelines. Among these are publicizing the checkpoint location in advance, allowing an alternate route, etc. They can’t just plop one down unannounced on a road with no exits and check everybody. “That’s profiling, and profiling is wrong!”
    Unregistered Bull

  5. 8 andy rea
    May 25, 2011 at 4:33 pm

    FOURTH AMENDMENT [U.S. Constitution]
    ‘The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.’

    Unreasonable Searches And Seizures.

    Non-consensual extraction of blood implicates Fourth Amendment privacy rights. Skinner v. Railway Labor Executives’ Ass’n, 489 U.S. 602, 16 (’89) (‘this physical intrusion, penetrating beneath the skin, infringes [a reasonable] expectation of privacy’); Schmerber v. California, 384 U.S. 757, 67 (’66) (compulsory blood test ‘plainly involves the broadly conceived reach of a search and seizure under the Fourth Amendment’).’ ‘[f]or the Fourth Amendment does not proscribe all searches and seizures, but only those that are unreasonable.’ Skinner, 489 U.S. at 619; accord Vernonia School Dist. 47J v. Acton, No. 95-590, 1995 WL 373274, at *3 (June 26,’95) (‘the ultimate measure of the constitutionality of a governmental search is `reasonableness”). A search’s reasonableness under the Fourth Amendment generally depends on whether the search was made pursuant to a warrant issued upon probable cause. U.S. v. Place, 462 U.S. 696, 701 (’83).

    Even in the law enforcement context, the State may interfere with an individual’s Fourth Amendment interests with less than probable cause and without a warrant if the intrusion is only minimal and is justified by law enforcement purposes. E.g., Michigan State Police Dept v. Sitz, 496 U.S. 444, 450 (’90); Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1, 20 (’68).

    ‘An essential purpose of a warrant requirement is to protect privacy interests by assuring citizens subject to a search or seizure that such intrusions are not the random or arbitrary acts of government agents.’ Skinner, 489 U.S. at 421-2 (holding that a warrant was not required in part because ‘in light of the standardized nature of the tests and the minimal discretion vested in those charged with administering the program, there are virtually no facts for a neutral magistrate to evaluate’). The Supreme Court recently reaffirmed and expanded the principle first enunciated in Skinner, stating that, in some contexts, ‘testing based on `suspicion’ of [wrongful activity] would not be better, but worse’ than suspicionless testing. Acton, 1995 WL 373274, at *8. In Acton, the Supreme Court upheld as constitutional a school district’s practice of conducting random, suspicionless urine testing of school athletes for drug use. The Court rejected the proposition that the school district could conduct such testing only if school officials had suspicion that a specific athlete was using drugs, holding that this alternative ‘entails substantial difficulties — if it is indeed practicable at all.’ Id. Accusatory drug testing would ‘transform[] the process into a badge of shame’ and would increase the risk that school officials would impose testing arbitrarily upon disfavored, but not drug-using, students. Id.

    Except in certain narrowly limited cases, the Court repeatedly has stated its ‘insist[ence] upon probable cause as a minimum requirement for a reasonable search permitted by the Constitution.’ Chambers v. Moreny, 399 U.S. 42, 51 (’70). Because ‘[t]he integrity of an individual’s person is a cherished value in our society,’ searches that invade bodily integrity cannot be executed as mere fishing expeditions to acquire useful evidence: ‘The interests in human dignity and privacy which the Fourth Amendment protects forbid any such intrusions on the mere chance that desired evidence might be obtained.’ Schmerber, 384 U.S. at 772, 769-70.

    Only when law enforcement faces an exigent circumstance, such as a need to preserve evanescent blood alcohol evidence, and has probable cause to link the sought-after information to a crime under investigation is it constitutional to conduct nonconsensual blood testing without a warrant. Id. at 770-71. Therefore, forced extraction of blood not only ‘implicates the Fourth Amendment,’ as the majority notes, but also falls squarely within the area of privacy interests for which the traditional probable cause requirement determines reasonableness in the law enforcement context. Forced blood extraction intrudes on the private personal sphere and infringes upon an individual’s ‘most personal and deep-rooted expectations of privacy.’ Winston v. Lee, 470 U.S. 753, 60 (’85).

    Investigatory Stops Of Motorists At Sobriety Checkpoints.

    The unique situation in which the Supreme Court has approved suspicionless searches in the traditional law enforcement context. See Michigan Dep’t of State Police v. Sitz, 496 U.S. 444 (’90). The Sitz Court relied on well-settled law that motorists have a lessened expectation of privacy regarding stops and visual searches of automobiles on the nation’s roadways. Id. at 450 (explaining the importance of the context of ‘police stops of motorists on public highways’). At these sobriety checkpoints, which motorists may choose to avoid, only the initial brief stop and preliminary questioning may take place without individualized suspicion: ‘more extensive field sobriety testing’ requires justification. Id. at 450-2.

    Like the highway sobriety checkpoints, the ‘special needs beyond normal law enforcement’ rationale supports searches on lesser grounds than probable cause only in a very few, carefully tailored regulatory contexts that do not involve apprehension of criminal perpetrators. See, e.g., National Treasury Employees Union v. Von Raab, 489 U.S. 656, 65-66 (’89) (applying the special needs exception to suspicionless quasi-consensual drug testing of Customs Service employees seeking transfer to positions having a direct involvement in drug interdiction).

    The Fourth Amendment provides no protection for what ‘a person knowingly exposes to the public’. Like a man’s facial characteristics, or handwriting, his voice is repeatedly produced for others to hear. No person can have a reasonable expectation that others will not know the sound of his voice, any more than he can reasonably expect that his face will be a mystery to the world.

    The required disclosure of a person’s voice is thus immeasurably further removed from the Fourth Amendment protection than was the intrusion into the body effected by the blood extraction in Schmerber . . . . Rather, this is like the fingerprinting in Davis, . . . [which] ‘involves none of the probing into an individual’s private life and thoughts that marks an interrogation or search.’ U.S. v. Dionisio, 410 U.S. 1, 14-15 (’73) (quoting Katz v. U.S., 389 U.S. 347, 51 (’67), and Davis v. Mississippi, 394 U.S. 721, 27 (’69)) (emphases added).

    ‘Fingerprinting’ – like the compelled production of other aspects of an individual’s identification that are routinely exposed to and superficially observable by the public at large, such as voice prints, handwriting exemplars, and photographs – simply belongs to a different category of search that ‘represents a much less serious intrusion upon personal security than other types of searches and detentions.’ Hayes v. Florida, 470 U.S. 811, 14 (’85).*fn10 The majority’s analysis obliterates this critical constitutional distinction between coerced fingerprinting and blood extraction for DNA genetic pattern analysis.

    Blanket Searches.

    Blanket searches are unreasonable, however ‘evenhanded’ they may be, in the traditional criminal law enforcement context. See, e.g., Ybarra v. Illinois, 444 U.S. 85, 91-2, 92 n.4 (’79) (invalidating a blanket patdown search of all patrons in a tavern, even though there was probable cause to search the bartender and the premises). The ill that the Fourth Amendment prevents is not merely the arbitrariness of police discretion to single out individuals for attention, but also the unwarranted domination and control of the citizenry through fear of baseless but ‘evenhanded’ general police searches.

    In Zurcher, the Supreme Court held that a search of the offices of a university newspaper, which was not involved in any criminal activity, for photographs of demonstrators who had assaulted police officers did not offend the Fourth Amendment’s ban against unreasonable searches and seizures. The court concluded: ‘[T]he Amendment has not been a barrier to warrants to search property on which there is probable cause to believe that fruits, instrumentalities, or evidence of crime is located, whether or not the owner or possessor of the premises to be searched is himself reasonably suspected of complicity in the crime being investigated.’ Zurcher v. Stanford Daily (’78) 436 U.S. 547, 549-50.

    Fourth Amendment protects the ‘right of the people to be secure in their persons . . . against unreasonable searches and seizures.’ The essence of that protection is a prohibition against some modes of law enforcement because the cost of police intrusion into personal liberty is too high, even though the intrusion undoubtedly would result in an enormous boon to the public if the efficient apprehension of criminals were the sole criterion to be considered. ‘The easiest course for [law enforcement] officials is not always one that our Constitution allows them to take.’ Wolfish, 441 U.S. at 595 (Stevens, dissenting).

    A permanent resident alien is entitled to constitutional protection. See Landon v. Plasencia, 459 U.S. 21, 32-4 (’82) (‘[O]nce an alien gains admission to our country and begins to develop the ties that go with permanent residence, his constitutional status changes accordingly.’). In particular, to Fourth Amendment protection against unlawful seizures. See Benitez-Mendez v. INS, 760 F.2d 907, 09-10 (9th Cir.’85) (finding that INS seizure of alien violated Fourth Amendment); see also INS v. Delgado, 466 U.S. 210, 213 n.1, 215-21 (’84) (considering whether questioning of resident aliens by INS agents amounted to seizure for purposes of Fourth Amendment); Martinez v. Nygaard, 831 F.2d 822, 824, 826-28 (9th Cir.’87) (analyzing whether seizures of three resident aliens complied with Fourth Amendment).

    * * * * * * * * * *

  6. 11 andy rea
    May 27, 2011 at 12:31 pm


    Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper has his majority and will now embark on a $5-billion-plus plan to emulate the failure so evident in the U.S. — by building more prisons, creating stiffer sentences for a variety of offences, making parole eligibility tougher and march more benign criminals ( read: those associated with marijuana use and sale ) into Canada’s expanding penal system.

    It’s a foolish plan that makes all Conservatives look silly. When conservative-to-the-core Conrad Black pans Harper’s plan, you know it has its faults. And, to see how Harper and his circle ignored their government’s own statistics to push forward with this billion-dollar boondoggle, pick up a copy of Harperland: The Politics of Control by Globe and Mail columnist Lawrence Martin.

    However, while the folly of the prison-expansion plan should be evident to most rational-thinking people not consumed with living via the dogma of a political creed, there should be room — indefinitely — in Canada’s prisons for the worst of the worst.

    Take Jack Samuel Froese, for example.

    The now-notorious serial rapist served his sentences and is now living with family in Kamloops.

    The fact he raped women ( emphasis on the plural ) and spent a scant few years behind bars is proof that, in this particular case, sentencing was laughably lenient.

    KTW obtained Parole Board of Canada decision sheets relating to Froese. They are disturbing, revolting and maddening.

    He is a remorseless rapist who, in the words of the parole board, is “still likely to commit an offence causing death or serious bodily harm to another person.”

    The details of his crimes, and his unbelievable callousness toward his victims, are sickening.

    And, while serving time for rape in a community corrections centre, he was found with a list of names and phone numbers of women.

    Yet, here he is, in our midst — and the fact he is free should stun even the most liberal person among us.

    Froese is one of many lost causes, joining the ranks of serial rapist Paul Bernardo, serial child killer Clifford Olsen, mass child murderer Allan Schoenborn and many, many others.

    Money and time and effort and brainpower is wasted on trying in vain to rehabilitate these rapists and killers.

    Froese blames his crimes on drug and alcohol use. Schoenborn convinced a judge he had a mental disorder when, three years ago, he killed his three sweet young children.

    It shouldn’t matter.

    To be blunt, factories will always produce defective products. Among thousands of perfect creations, one or two will leave the assembly line not quite right. We toss these in the garbage.

    Froese, Schoenborn et al are the human equivalents and should be treated as such.

    During the federal-election campaign, NDP Leader Jack Layton was spot on when he called for government to spend money on preventing crime from happening.

    He’s right.

    If we spent millions on reaching at-risk youth so they don’t become criminals, petty or otherwise, we wouldn’t need to spend billions housing them a decade down the road.

    Some of that money can surely come from the millions we now spend trying to fix the Froeses and Schoenborns of the system, through “programs” and “therapy” behind bars.

    And, with the remaining billions?

    How about one super-maximum prison high in the Arctic, where the likes of Froese, Schoenborn, Bernardo, Olsen and others can live out the rest of their lives?

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