The rogue.

A link I forgot to post yesterday, from Tuesday’s Free Press (and I apologize in advance for the auto-playing video piece): A story about what can happen when one — just one — bad cop gets the right job. It starts with an anecdote about a regular guy who gets the crap beaten out of him by three cops for “resisting arrest” after being caught urinating in the parking lot of his own small-town bar. And gets, in time, to the nut graf:

(Police chief Victor) Pierce’s critics say there have been other examples of aggressive policing lately, and question why Pierce needs nearly three dozen, non-certified reserve officers to protect a population of 3,900 with the most serious crimes generally theft and burglary.

The department also has two Humvees and two armored personnel carriers received free of charge from the U.S. Department of Defense for a township with only four full-time officers.

This — the militarization of ordinary police — has been a national story, and the Freep found the perfect local example, with the added fillip of a chief who has been… well, let him tell you:

Pierce, 56, a former Battle Creek police sergeant, recently told the township board, “I have preached a vision and the Lord put me here for a reason.”

I think I’ve mentioned before that my own peaceful, leafy city also got an armored personnel carrier recently, for the low low cost of Free, thanks to Uncle Sam. It rankles me just the same. Police work is best done in one-to-one face time with residents, by learning neighborhoods and the people who live there, not by driving a goddamn tank. And why is this chief so dedicated to flood-the-zone policing? Guess:

“So the numbers seem high but shortly after Sandy Hook (school shooting), I said that was the straw that broke the camel’s back … I don’t want all these things to happen, but shame on me if something did.”

You think living in fear is just a problem for those who do. It’s a problem for everybody.

A follow-up story suggests things may have gone too far; the chief is facing a job review, but I bet he keeps his job. And his armored vehicles. Because Sandy Hook, and terrorism.

So, then. How was y’all’s Tuesday? It rained here, and even though it wasn’t very hot, I left the air-conditioning on so I wouldn’t have to touch the woodwork and find it sticky. Slept in and didn’t swim due to some wee-hours insomnia, which has been creeping back into my life after a nice stretch without it. I’ll have to figure out what was working then that isn’t now. Probably clean living. So what did I do today? Ate a bunch of nacho cheese Doritos, which I don’t even like that much, except when I do, and today I did. I still feel sick.

We have a couple of good Bridge pieces today, underlining something I’ve always believed: There’s no squalor like rural squalor. I was up in Lake County last year to report on Idlewild, and came across a woman running a free clothing store out of a shell of an old house. Guess one of her reasons for opening it: To keep people from dumping their old clothes in the woods. Lake County encompasses vast tracts of national forest, and getting your trash hauled costs money. It’s a pretty poor place. Much of northern Michigan is pretty poor, too.

But I am rich in so many things, including you guys. So have a great Wednesday, muggy and hot or dry and cool as yours may be.

Posted at 12:30 am in Current events |

40 responses to “The rogue.”

  1. MichaelG said on August 6, 2014 at 1:38 am

    It’s not so late here but I guess it is there on CDT. These responses are left over from yesterday’s post.

    Goodness, Deborah. I hope things are resolved quickly and you feel better soon. I’ve never had to pass a stone and hope never to have the experience. My thoughts are with you.

    So you’re finally reaching 65, Dexter. Welcome. If you haven’t already, go online (or is it on line or on-line?) and file for social security. It’s incredibly easy. My dealings with the SSA folks have always been very pleasant and very productive. I’ll raise a Thai iced tea to your day.

    So, another Irish music adventure. I recommend Shane McGowan and the Pogues. Here is McGowan’s strong, bullshit free take on Danny Boy. It’s a very masculine (I sort of hate to put it that way but it’s true) rendition. It’s an eye opener. Scroll down a tad for the words.

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  2. Sherri said on August 6, 2014 at 2:33 am

    I am increasingly thankful that the ACLU has a very strong presence out here in Washington. They’re fighting the good fight against law enforcement overreach. You bet I’m an ACLU member, and proud of it.

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  3. Dexter said on August 6, 2014 at 3:53 am

    MichaelG, since I retired on a company pension at age 53, when I hit 62 I had to take SS at that time. I worked 30 years for my UAW pension, and also spent time in the army, played baseball a couple post-high school summers, and worked in little factories and warehouses along the way before I could land the UAW job, which I held onto like gold until I got my 30 and my pension. Physically, I was “all wore out” when I retired. If anyone has any job s/he can perform which does not cause physical pain or undue mental stress, why hell…work until you are 80. A paycheck is nice if you can do the work and can enjoy the job at least an hour or so out of the workday.

    When I was a kid in rural Indiana, we had neighbors a half-mile away going either direction; south of us the neighbors were recently living in poor Tennessee. North of us were a family who had been in Indiana a few years from Kentucky. The Tennessee tribe were just dirt poor. A can of beans was a banquet. The bedraggled kids walked to our place several times a week and Mom fed them our leftovers or fried them a skillet of potatoes and hot dogs or threw in some hamburger meat, and those kids were so grateful they cried. What a bad situation. My brother reminded me of the time Dad brought home our fresh-cut Christmas tree, and he had an extra tree. He had bought the Tennessee-born kids a tree. Mom sorted out some ornaments and we hauled the tree to them. Of course they were overjoyed. Next day…old drunken mean-ass fucking hillbilly father took the decorated tree and threw it out beside the road.
    The Kentucky-born kids also had a drunken dad, but a great mom, and a lot more stability .
    Both families were rock-bottom poverty level. I leaned gratitude early. We were poor, too…but we never, ever missed a meal, and I mean cooked meals by Mom, whereas eating for the poorer two families was haphazard or just not there.
    We lived maybe a half hour from the southern Michigan state line…funny how I never knew a thing about Michigan poverty until I was an adult.

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  4. alex said on August 6, 2014 at 6:04 am

    Squalid isn’t a term I associate with northern Michigan, where abandoned farm houses turn silver in the dry air and look like something out of a Norman Rockwell painting. Here in the relatively muggy Hoosier state such edifices just rot and implode, and squalid has always been the first term that came to my mind to describe it.

    In recent years they’ve cleaned things up around here but our town used to have two areas reminiscent of the town of Chase, Michigan. One was Riverhaven, a sad collection of shanties and trailers in a flood plain. Riverhaven first came to my attention in the 1970s when a news story broke about an elderly woman living in an old school bus brimming with feces from the hundred or so dogs and cats also residing there. Most of the animals were in terrible health and had to be destroyed. The other place was Lake Everett (a/k/a “the Butt Hole” because of its proximity to Butt Road), a formerly ramshackle settlement that’s still getting over its stigmatized reputation but has been on the upswing as affordable lakefront property has become such a scarce commodity.

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  5. beb said on August 6, 2014 at 8:15 am

    AS time goes by it becomes increasingly clear that Clinton ending welfare ‘as we know it’ was bad enough to condemn him to the outer reaches. And repealing Glass-Siegel directly lead to the Great Recession a decade later. In time I think Clinton is going to be seen as the Herbert Hoover among Democrats.

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  6. Suzanne said on August 6, 2014 at 8:27 am

    I live in rural Americana and yes, the poverty is here. I’ll have to read the article when I have time.
    My son once (in college, I think, or maybe high school) observed that there is little difference between inner city blight and rural squalor. Both involve people with few skills, the inability or desire to see the bigger, broader world and interact with it, and a sad, sorry lack of education both due to few opportunities and little desire on the part of many to access what is available. “My daddy didn’t go to college, and he got by! So why should I?” Add in a few addictions and some mental health problems which aren’t addressed, and you indeed have a toxic stew.
    The big difference is, the rest of the world still tends to see the rural poor as pure, innocent, mostly good happy people who love livin’ in nature and just don’t need much while the city poor are lazy moochers on society.

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  7. brian stouder said on August 6, 2014 at 8:50 am

    Suzanne – true.

    When I tumble into one of those conversations, where a person refers to “moochers” or “free-loaders”, my question always is “Do you want to see people starving on the streets?” – because I don’t.

    Rural squalor’s chief quality, then, is that most of us will never see it

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  8. coozledad said on August 6, 2014 at 8:51 am

    Too many people think they’ve got it dicked because they can shoot a deer or catch a fish. It might limit their mating pool to family members, with predictably horrible results, but when you’re equipped with some mythology that tells you you’re not just some misshapen piece of twitchy peasant gloop, you will continue to produce a quivering jellied mass of your like as a testimony to aberrant natural selection.

    Look at that mug. It’s a face only his sister would straddle.

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  9. brian stouder said on August 6, 2014 at 10:03 am

    Leaving aside the anniversary of Tricky-Dick’s resignation, the ‘Watergate’ I’m still pondering is the Toledo/Lake Erie debacle.

    We can make obsolete old fashioned, physical inter-connectedness, as for telephones or cable-TV; but we cannot escape physical connectedness when it comes to drinkable water (and waste water going the other way). And – fresh-water is not something that can be out-sourced (at least, not very easily) – so we have to conserve what we have, and be consistently good (and faithful) stewards going forward.

    Anyway – somehow this (now over?) event will be contorted into “Obama’s fault” somehow by our blinkered flying monkeys of the rightwing airwaves* – despite that it is something else entirely; more akin to the first time you heard the beeps and tones of your (earl-‘90’s) computer connecting to the internet…the sound of the future

    *I noticed that Oxy-Rush has taken to ranting that “the Left” makes absolutely everything ‘about politics’…in the same breath that he admits that he himself makes absolutely everything ‘about politics’. But really – it strikes me as just intellectual laziness to sidestep reflections upon human civilization (writ large) or American cultural shifts by declaring that the people you disagree with just ‘make everything political’

    And now, I’m off to get a drink of water

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  10. Connie said on August 6, 2014 at 10:07 am

    When Richard Nixon resigned I was working at a high end department store in East Grand Rapids, home of Jerry Ford. The entire store stood in respectful silence as we listened through the announcement system to a live radio broadcast of his swearing in.

    It makes me chuckle to think that the other time I remember doing something like that I was working at the MSU Bookstore and listening to Magic Johnson’s live press conference announcement about which university he was going to attend. Not so silent that time, more like cheers.

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  11. Jeff Borden said on August 6, 2014 at 10:07 am

    The less I say about the Chicago Police Department the better. It’s a horribly difficult job and my years on the police beat certainly exposed me to the extraordinarily awful things these men and women face every day. And that was in Columbus, not Chicago. That said, we have more than our share of dirty or violent cops, and what truly bugs me is how the other police officers stand in lockstep with their disgraceful brethren. When that lunking hulk of shit was caught on videotape kicking the shit out of a 105-pound woman bartender when she refused to serve him any more liquor, his brother officers barricaded the police district station with their cruisers to prevent media from getting any photos or footage as he was escorted from the station. Really disgusting.

    On the flip side, there was an enormous amount of restraint shown by the cops when Palestinian and Jewish groups faced off outside the Israeli consulate. There was the very real possibility of a street melee, but the police did a great job of keeping them separated.

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  12. Deborah said on August 6, 2014 at 10:37 am

    There is a lot of squaler in New Mexico, mostly run down trailers and the odd thing is how they aren’t far from million dollar homes. In Santa Fe the next block over from us had a run down trailer right in the middle of the block which astounded me because this is an historical district which is very particular that the buildings all conform to the pueblo or territorial style. Anyway in the last week or so that trailer was condemned and removed because it was a meth lab apparently. And all along there were nice houses around it. I was on my road trip when it happened but Little Bird said the neighbors were cheering as the trailer was hauled away.

    Thanks for the kind words. I’m feeling a little better, taking some strong antibiotics

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  13. brian stouder said on August 6, 2014 at 11:10 am

    Deborah – excellent news; it is very good to hear that you’re on the up-swing again!

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  14. Heather said on August 6, 2014 at 11:26 am

    This really sums up the whole problem:

    “Most of the 34 civilian, reserve officers — hired and personally trained by Pierce — are from outside the community. He has authorized them to carry guns and sent them out in patrol cars. They are unpaid, and many folks in the township question both their skills and their motivation.”

    Sounds like a little private militia to me. Ugh.

    I agree about the Chicago police, Jeff. Someone attempted to break into my condo when I was home about eight or nine years ago. The police really pressured me to say that I had seen him coming in through the window, when I hadn’t (the window was open and I don’t know if he had gotten in partway or not–I only saw him booking it down the stairs after I noticed the window was open). It was really intimidating, because I was pretty shaken up, and then they’re the police, so of course you want to help them and do the right thing. I can completely understand now how the wrong people get put in jail–especially if you’ve just experienced something really devastating, like a rape or an assault. It’s very hard to hold your ground in that situation and say “I’m not sure that’s the guy.”

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  15. nancy said on August 6, 2014 at 11:31 am

    In Michigan, there’s also a provision in the law that allows reserve officers to carry weapons into places where they’re not typically allowed, and they might even be able to carry them concealed. (Not sure about that.) For some reason, this draws a lot of people into the reserves. Some people just love packin’ heat.

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  16. Charlotte said on August 6, 2014 at 12:11 pm

    We had an instance of police over reach this winter — cops doing door checks downtown found the street door to Glenn’s bar unlocked. It’s an odd building — the entrance is down a long hallway that basically takes you through that building to the one behind it. Apparently, they hollered from the street door, then unleashed the police dog — who ran in and mauled — the cook. He’d gone next door for an after-shift drink, then had come back to make himself a salad. With the keys he was authorized to have. Cops claimed they were doing him a favor driving him to the hospital instead of calling the ambulance. Town went bananas with anger. We still have a lot of unlocked doors around here … to his credit, the police chief revised the dog policy to state that they have to call the business owner before unleashing the dog. Sigh.

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  17. Jeff Borden said on August 6, 2014 at 12:29 pm

    The cook is lucky he wasn’t Tasered, beaten, handcuffed and tossed in the pokey. That’s the way a lot of these guys roll.

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  18. adrianne said on August 6, 2014 at 12:48 pm

    It’s amazing how the public money just flows for idiotic items like armored tanks for civilian police. Post 9/11, the City of Middletown got one of these behemoths for its cop shop. It shows up at the occasional crazy barricaded in his house, but mostly as a lurking menace.

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    • nancy said on August 6, 2014 at 1:10 pm

      The fact most of these things are handed out free to local po-pos tells me they’re likely military surplus. In other words, this is another of the ten million pieces of fallout from the Iraq war.

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  19. Deborah said on August 6, 2014 at 1:26 pm

    I’ve not seen any of those armoured tanks around, I would think they’d have them in Santa Fe as there is a Wild West vibe here.

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  20. Deborah said on August 6, 2014 at 1:39 pm

    Brian, you might be interested in this

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  21. brian stouder said on August 6, 2014 at 2:20 pm

    Deborah – interesting stuff indeed…and Connie, click that link! The local librarians – for years and years – knew about that library book with President Lincoln’s handwriting within it.

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  22. Connie said on August 6, 2014 at 2:34 pm

    I saw that! Very cool.

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  23. Deborah said on August 6, 2014 at 6:39 pm

    Little Bird says they have at least one tank in Santa Fe and a couple of other contraptions for dealing with / removing bombs. She said the police had set up a display around the Plaza of all their toys and cars a while ago. That sounds more like what I would have expected here.

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  24. alex said on August 6, 2014 at 10:21 pm

    With police like that, probably good that everybody is helicopter parenting these days. You wouldn’t want some unpaid reserve officers beating the living shit out of you for letting your kids play outside unattended, or worse yet beating the kids themselves.

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  25. Deborah said on August 6, 2014 at 11:24 pm

    Do any of you watch Longmire? The final episode of the third season aired Monday night, but we just watched it tonight on on-demand. There were a couple of things I don’t understand: how did Longmire know at the end that Nighthorse was probably involved in his wife’s death and what was in the jar that Henry removed at the wall shrine after his charges were dropped?

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  26. Connie said on August 6, 2014 at 11:37 pm

    I just got the speaker list for the metro Detroit book and author luncheon on 10/20, and the Longmire author is one of the speakers. As is Kathy Reichs the author of Bones.

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  27. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on August 6, 2014 at 11:56 pm

    I believe Columbus OH has more police helicopters than pretty much anywhere, and other than construction delays on 315 and I-71, no one knows why.

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  28. Dexter said on August 7, 2014 at 12:23 am

    JMMO: Ever watch cop shows from LA? Pretty much constant spotlighted surveillance from cop helicopters.

    And construction can unnerve neighbors. There is a massive road project going on in Toledo where I-457 merges with I-75 northbound. It is too massive a project to explain. Last week three workers were fired upon by unknown assailants and the owners of the construction project threatened to just pull the plug and abandon the job site if it happens just one more time. Meetings calmed down the suits enough to resume work, I guess.
    A pay wall may prevent reading so I tried to copy it …let’s see if it works…
    Shooting shuts I-75 work site
    Construction company threatens to walk off multimillion-dollar job

    A road construction company is considering quitting a multimillion-dollar job in Toledo’s central city after three employees were shot at Monday morning.

    None of the men working in the I-75 construction zone, near Bancroft Street, was injured when bullets started flying at 3:30 a.m., but rounds — five or six of them — zipped past the trio, and several pinged off the wall behind them.

    “It makes no sense,” said Jonathon Claxton, vice president of American Roadway Logistics Inc., which is based in Richmond, Ohio. “We’re trying to do good work. We’re trying to help the community. Why would the community shoot at us?”

    The construction workers, who were taking measurements for eventual striping of the highway, told police that a silver vehicle, southbound on the interstate, slowed down near the construction site and then opened fire. The vehicle took off, and police said they have no suspects.

    Shot at were Esteban Lebron, 43, of Cleveland, Alan McConnell, 59, of Euclid, Ohio, and Joseph Mann, 44, of Norwalk, Ohio.

    Because none of the men are from the Toledo area, officials think the shooting was random and not targeted.

    Construction at that section of interstate began about four weeks ago and is expected to last until 2015. The project is expected to cost about $26 million.

    “What I’m concerned about is our long-term presence out on the job,” Mr. Claxton said. “I’m concerned about the safety of our employees. Is it worth it to proceed when our men are being shot at?”

    After the shooting was reported, the job site was closed down for the night, several hours ahead of schedule.

    Roadwork in that construction zone is scheduled to take place between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m., said Theresa Pollick, a spokesman for the Ohio Department of Transportation.

    Mr. Claxton said he intends to speak with Toledo police to see if anything can be done to protect employees at the site. Whether accommodations can be made will likely determine whether American Roadway Logistics stays on the job.

    “We do a lot of work for ODOT, but the value of a job is not worth the value of a life,” he said.

    Toledo police Sgt. Joe Heffernan said officers can be hired to work off duty, sitting in a patrol vehicle with lights on at construction sites to slow down traffic.

    The company has had problems on job sites before, but usually those problems are stolen or vandalized equipment, never shootings.

    “We are aware that there could be potential issues, but nothing this drastic,” Mr. Claxton said. “It’s just unfortunate when these situations happen. I don’t understand the mentality. What’s your reward for that? … It just doesn’t make sense.”

    Contact Taylor Dungjen at:

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  29. Dave said on August 7, 2014 at 1:50 am

    Deborah, that was how Hector, who died earlier, got his jobs. Remember, he was a man who got things done. Perhaps Henry is going to get a few wrongs righted.

    Walt knew that David, aka, The White Warrior, was working for Jacob. I think that’s why he suspected Jacob. I didn’t really think Branch’s father would be so involved and now, alas, we have to hope that the show is renewed (and wait until next summer).

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  30. Dorothy said on August 7, 2014 at 8:13 am

    I haven’t seen Longmire, but is anyone else watching The Honorable Woman on Sundance? It stars Maggie Gyllenhaal and Stephen Rhea. Tonight is the second episode – we caught the first one On Demand because I’d forgotten to record it. Very strong and positive reviews are what convinced me to give it a try. It was mesmerizing and I look forward to more episodes.

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  31. Deborah said on August 7, 2014 at 8:29 am

    Dave, I must have missed an episode or two previously because I missed that part about about how Hector got his jobs.

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  32. Jolene said on August 7, 2014 at 9:01 am

    I’ve been meaning to check out The Honorable Woman, Dorothy, so will follow up your endorsement. I’m behind on Longmire too. Need to catch up. Have been enjoying The Bridge. Anyone watching that?

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  33. Basset said on August 7, 2014 at 9:27 am

    New topic… running Ozzy’s genome to see, among other questions, how he has stayed alive all these years:

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  34. LAMary said on August 7, 2014 at 9:52 am

    I will vouch for the abundance of cop helicopters in LA. Had one circling my neighborhood the other day for about 45 minutes.

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  35. brian stouder said on August 7, 2014 at 10:01 am

    Jolene – I am a serial-watcher of news (C-SPAN on the weekend), with some sitcoms mixed in, and that’s it.

    Basset – I betcha Ozzie’s secret is that he has a trusted dealer.

    The lead:

    Marianne Faithfull said in a recent interview that her boyfriend at the time, a heroin dealer named Jean de Breteuil, was responsible for Doors frontman Jim Morrison’s death in the summer of 1971. The singer recalled a sense of foreboding when Breteuil told her he intended to visit the Doors frontman so she decided to stay at their hotel and take barbiturates. “He went to see Jim Morrison and killed him,” Faithfull told Mojo. “I mean, I’m sure it was an accident. Poor bastard. The smack was too strong? Yeah. And he died. And I didn’t know anything about this. Anyway, everybody connected to the death of this poor guy is dead now. Except me.”

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  36. Dave said on August 7, 2014 at 12:39 pm

    Oh, off-topic from a few days ago, when Deborah told us she was in Greybull, WY, and I mentioned that Ted (what else can I say) was going to be in town at nearly the same time. My friend posted this, with much disgust.

    The area is full of LDS folks and he tells me that the sheriff has hounded everyone out of the department who isn’t LDS. Interesting, I thought, not much chance for diversity in the Big Horn County Sheriff’s Department.

    Actually, since I can’t attach things here, I can’t make this work, but it’s a picture and a story about the local sheriff made Ted and the other speaker, some retired Army major named Paul Vallely (also a former Fox commentator) honorary deputies of Big Horn County.

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  37. Jim said on August 7, 2014 at 3:24 pm

    Paul Vallely is a retired Army major general, not a major. Big difference.

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  38. Charlotte said on August 7, 2014 at 4:22 pm

    Second degree murder conviction in the Renisha McBride killing:

    And John Walsh has dropped out of the Montana Senate race.

    The things you learn on the tweeter … (that said, time to turn it off and do some work).

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  39. brian stouder said on August 7, 2014 at 4:34 pm

    I’m really, really glad that the precipitous shooter who can’t keep his story straight was convicted.

    Blasting people who knock on your door cannot be a legal thing, if we have a civilization

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