Sunday, July 31, 2011

Some more "debt crisis"

The other day, I got the following e-mail, and passed it on to a few people.

Will You Ever Sell Your House?

DID you know that if you sell your house after 2012 you will pay a 3.8% sales tax on it? That's $3,800 on a $100,000 home etc. When did this happen? It's in the healthcare bill. Just thought you should know.


So, this is "change you can believe in"?

Under the new health care bill - did you know that all real estate transactions will be subject to a 3.8% Sales Tax? The bulk of these new taxes don't kick in until 2013 If you sell your $400,000 home, there will be a $15,200 tax. This bill is set to screw the retiring generation who often downsize their homes. Doesn't this stuff make your November, 2012 vote more important than ever?

Oh, you weren't aware this was in the Obama-care bill? Guess what, you aren't alone. There are more than a few members of Congress that aren't aware of it either.
Check it out at the link below.

Why am I am sending you this? The same reason I hope you forward this to every single person in your address book; because another election is coming soon, be aware!

Then I got a reply from a Constant Reader who checked things out. It was a simple reference to this link: (a very extensive explanation)

I went, I read, and this was my reply:

Thanks for straightening this out, sorta.

Simpleton that I am, it's still a tax, and still being taken from me at the point of a gun. At one point in my life I was in that vilified "rich-person-who-isn't-paying-his-'fair'-share" category, and had to deal with the nuances and bureaucratic legal-speak of the looters. (And yes, I worked all my life to get there, too!) Thanks to things like alimony, a crooked CPA, my own bad investment instincts, probate "death taxes" on my inheritance, a couple of lawsuits from aggrieved individuals, the bursting of the real estate "bubble" in the '90s, and legal fees to defend myself from the very government I worked for, I'm now a pauper by American standards, which still places me head-and-shoulders above most of the rest of the world.

It really is hand-to-mouth after all these years, but what's mine is mine, as it should be. I am not a slave to loans or mortgages; my biggest problem is local taxes, which will go up this year because they have a $2,000,000 shortfall of wasted extortion money to throw at public non-education. (The millage rate will go up on the property I own, because those state-school teachers have union salaries that must be paid.) According to our local tax commissar [whom I have personally "buttonholed" on the issue] it will literally require an act of the state legislature for me to receive any type of exemption before I hit the mandatory age of 67. This despite the fact my daughters never attended Union County schools, and I certainly ain't gonna have have any more kidlets at 58. I don't mind paying the basic property taxes, a separate entity that supports local infrastructure and our corrupt law enforcement militia. I don't begrudge the 1% SPLOST [Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax] on intra-county purchases that goes for stuff like the new horse arena, the $10,000 worth of fireworks they popped on the 4th of July, or the new farmer's market pavilion. We have no rail or bus service in this area, so we need the tourist dollars the flatlanders and Floridiots bring up every fall on the federally-funded Zell Miller (D-GA) parkway from the People's Republic of Atlanta to "Deliverance" country. (Local entrepreneurs make good money on canoe expeditions. "Can you squeal like a pig?" The Ellijay Apple Festival and the Blairsville Sorghum Festival are big draws, too. There is apparently a perverse nostalgia for the quaint ways of the mountain folk.)

What I resent is paying the freight for other people's children to receive state indoctrination in whatever politically-correct idea of the moment is entrancing the bureaucrats and union hacks in DC. Our rural school system still retains a few moral values, and is better than most, but state-schooling is what it is. Philosophical differences aside, I've never benefited from this mushy, amorphous entity, and neither have my children. ( [The kids] got their state-schooling in a county much closer to the People's Republic, and if there were do-overs in life, it would have been home schooling at any personal price.) The local "education" tax makes up 2/3 of what the county says I owe every year, and it's getting more onerous every day. Old-school socialist Hillary Clinton said "it takes a village" to educate a child; I think it takes good parenting or a devotion to the welfare of the future if others are going to undertake the task of educating the young. Anyone who still believes an omnipotent government knows what is best for them is a meat puppet for slavery, not a free human being. Your natural, divine right to choose the course of your life ended the moment you abrogated your instincts and will to the governmental plantation owners, and became a statistical drone instead of a free-thinking person.

Alas, the "Bill and Hilly" days are now the stuff of innocent nostalgia. The apocalypse has speeded up, and while it may not be what the Left Wing demagogues are predicting, it's at the gates. We've passed the tipping point; the salt has spilled onto the tabletop, and no amount of throwing it over our shoulder is going to remedy the situation. I heard it put best tonight: "You cannot legislate 2+2=4." That's the basic economic truth, so say good-night to the American empire, Gracie. It's all politics from here until the darkness falls.

A passing line in my last blog post may be our epitaph: "Rationality becomes the nostalgic whim of the elderly."

Good luck, kids! This country was not founded on compromise or political expediency; it was founded on revolution and the concept of individual rights.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Solving the debt crisis and my own little manifesto

All I know about economics I learned from my father and my grandfather. Dad put it pretty simply, and Papa Bryant backed him up: “Don’t ever borrow money just because you can. If you absolutely have to borrow money, pay it back as quickly as you possibly can.”

Pretty succinct, huh?

In the latter part of the 1990s, I applied for one of those “You can’t be denied” credit cards. I was still working for a living, and making reasonable bucks in the underground economy by not declaring cash for movie work and security consultations. I wanted a piece of plastic to haul around in my wallet, just in case. As a child of the government and state-schooling, I’d never felt the need for such a fallback, but a 40-ish sense of responsibility gripped me, so I filled out the application and sent it in. I had a good credit history with my local bank, so this seemed like a no-brainer.

Imagine my surprise when I got a form letter reply, informing me that I possessed “insufficient credit history.” The “You cannot be denied” credit card people were denying me!

I immediately called my contact at Equifax. I told him what was going on. He put me on hold for a minute, and then came back.

“I have your file here. You’ve had loans in the past?”

“Yes. Couple of car loans and a motorcycle loan through GMAC, a home improvement loan, and a home equity loan.”

“And how’d you pay them off?”

“As fast as possible. You know I do movies as seasonal stuff, and security moonlighting. I got my hands on some extra cash, it went to the bank.”

“So you paid the loans off ahead of time?”

“Sure! Years ahead, by their terms. Whenever I had the money, it went there first.”

“And it never occurred to you that you were screwing them out of their interest on the loan?”

“No. Is that important?”

“Yes! They have you red-flagged.”

“Is that important?”

“Yes. People who lend money make their profit out of the interest they charge you for the privilege of borrowing the money. They lend you money for X number of years, they expect the capital investment plus X amount of money at whatever interest rate you agreed upon. Lenders aren’t in the game to break even.”

“So I screwed the capitalists by doing what Dad and my Grandpa told me to do?” I repeated my ancestral advice.

“Yeah. They had the capital to begin with, or they wouldn’t have loaned it to you. They want you to pay the full-term agreement, so they can get all the interest due. They count on that as profit, and factor it in as to whether they’ll lend you the money. This credit card company figures if you borrow money on their card, you’ll pay it back too quickly, and they won’t get their full interest on the loan. They refused you, and you’re red-flagged on our computer as a bad risk.”

“Because I pay everyone back too soon?”

“Exactly. You need to get another loan—if you can—and pay it back on schedule, even if you have the means to pay it back sooner. That’ll improve your credit rating. Right now, no one wants to lend you money, because there’s no return on their risk.”

“So, my credit’s down the toilet because I followed the good advice of my father and grandfather?”

“Basically, yes.”

“What if I’d borrowed the money and then told everyone I couldn’t repay them?”

“Assuming you borrowed from a legitimate source instead of a loan shark, your inability to repay is bankruptcy, and everyone has to take the pill and like it. You can’t borrow any more money for a while, but if you continue to earn productively, they’ll eventually loosen up. If you borrowed from a questionable source, they might send some tough guys to intimidate you.”

“You know me, Bob. I don’t intimidate. What if I’m tougher than them?”

“Then they go away and take the pill, too.”

“Bottom line, I’m better off being a little in debt than being debt-free too soon, and a default is better than a clean up-front payment?”


This was my second lesson in basic economics. I vaguely recall some stuff from college about Keynes, Frederich Hayek, and Adam Smith, but it never had a relationship to reality like my paraphrase of my conversation with Bob at Equifax.

He was right, too. Some years later, I asked my local bank to lend me $850 against the income from my pension and the $150,000 equity in my home, which I offered as collateral against the loan. They refused. I’m a bad credit risk, red-flagged everywhere because I paid off too soon.

I learned to live within my means. I take it for granted that no one is going to lend me more than $20 to take Ms. Possum out to dinner, and I’ll repay it in good faith next week. I pay my bills every month, so we can have the basics like water, electricity, phone service, homeowner’s insurance, and even the exorbitant satellite service that brings 280 channels of crap. I even have an automatic deduction program in place, so every month a small amount goes from my checking account into savings. Impulse-buying at the grocery store aside, I can afford about one “goody” a month; things like a new pair of jeans, some new tennis shoes, a flash drive for the computer, or even a video rental or a CD purchase. My last vice—cigarettes—is outrageous, but as long as the government considers me a cash cow for their taxes while hypocritically telling me the increased costs are designed to “discourage” me from smoking, I’ll keep on lighting up, and that, too, fits within the budget.

Point is, I live within my means. I have no credit; I see those TV commercials about “Your credit score” and burst out laughing. Forget 430 versus 775; mine’s a negative, and all because everyone got paid too soon. I live hand-to-mouth, but I live well compared to the rest of the world, and I don’t have to face down leg-breakers showing up at the door demanding the vig on the loan. I bow to no king, and bend my knee only to God.

I’m not sore about this; I make allowances. What’s the real deal that the government can’t do this? I know what the political agenda of the moment is: the liberals want to keep their boy in office, so they’ll resist anything that doesn’t extend the national credit limit until 2013. A Democrat party hack nearly made me shoot my TV this morning. He kept saying that anything that doesn’t kick the debt can down the road until 2013—past next year’s election—is “not in the best interest of the people.”

Bullshit. The Democrats don’t want this debacle coming back to haunt them before election day. A couple of weeks ago, some twink named Plouf—another party hack—said that the public isn’t concerned about the horrible record of failure Bobama can’t run on; the public is only concerned about what affects them this week, so Bobama is a shoe-in for re-election.

Okay, Bubba, you think things are bad right now, how’re they going to be next year?

It’s a shame the Republicans don’t have a candidate with the charisma of Ronald Reagan to stand up and ask Reagan’s question in the upcoming debates: Are you better off now than you were four years ago? (I think we know what today’s answer would be.)

If my home was in a Third World country, I’d have four families and assorted relatives living here. As a retiree receiving federal largesse, I live like a damn king in a three-story castle on Scorpion Hill, and I own it! So, where do I get off bitching about anything?

Simply: Ms. Possum, the love of my life and my Significant Other, works for a local community service agency. She runs the food pantry, works energy assistance in season, and gives referrals to other charitable agencies when her office can’t cover their needs. Those charitable agencies are drying up, unable to offer help to the truly needy. Ms. Possum’s hours have been cut back, and people in her office are being let go. She works for minimum wage through a federally-funded Community Services Block Grant that is in danger of being eliminated to accommodate ObamabaCare with its health-care rationing and death panels. (I’m a smoker, and will be the first to go. The death panels are real; I already fought a war with them last summer.) Every day, I hear horror stories about people coming in for basic foodstuffs, crying because they’re ashamed of having to ask for help. I hear about the “Obamavilles” in our local campgrounds; people who have lost their homes, and are living in their cars. I heard about the old lady who called in hysterics because her bronchial oxygen pump works off electricity, and the local EMC was on the way to shut off her power for non-payment of a bill run sky-high by EPA regulations on the coal-fired plants in this region. I hear about the elderly with leaking roofs being forced out of their homes by mold infestation; the roofs can’t be repaired because the federal money to fund the much-vaunted improvement program was diverted to some union vote-buying scheme.

Enough rhetorical examples. You, the cynical reader, are asking: “You admitted you live like a king. Why do you care?”

Simple answer there, too: I care about people. As a son-of-the-South mountain person—that’s “hillbilly” for you urban types—I understand all too well the nature of those who are suffering the most. These are people who never had the advantages of over-education at Columbia, Yale, or Princeton. Forget even the University of Georgia; all they did was graduate high school in most cases, and go to work. Their school was the school of Hard Knocks, and they never complained, they just got up and went to work every day. They never asked for anything special or extra; they just wanted what they earned. When reduced to dependency on an autocratic, omnipotent government, they are reduced to humiliation, tears, and standing on a—possibly misplaced—pride that won’t allow them to become beggars at the altar of government arrogance. For every sobbing supplicant Ms. Possum sees every day, I’ll bet there are three out there who would rather starve than come and ask what kind of handout they can receive.

This is where the manifesto kicks in. I’m regressing to my young hippie, power-to-the-people days, only this time as a pragmatic conservative with a much broader understanding of the world and how things work.

If I believe the liberal demagogues, next week is the end of the world if we don’t accede to the demands of The Manchurian Candidate. If I believe the Republocrats, compromise is the only solution to the conflict between their divided ideological tenets and the collectivist insanity of the Far Left. If I believe the adherents of the party taking its name from my core belief—the Libertarians—it ain’t the end of the world, but it ain’t going to be pretty.

I’ve lost faith in the political system. I don’t believe anyone who’s currently holding office, no matter what their political affiliation. Ron Paul means nothing more to me than Harry Reid, and I cannot think of two more perfect opposites.

If nothing else I’ve ever said will get me onto a Ministry of Homeland Security terrorist watchlist, this will:

I want anarchy! I want chaos! I want default!

I want every entitlement-oriented jackass in the United States to take to the streets, demand their goodies, and start overturning cars, smashing windows, looting, screaming for entitlements, and otherwise showing their asses. Greece and France are nothing compared to the US; I want millions out there carrying on like the soft-as-cotton babies they’ve become.


Bobama wanted to become “Howard Beale” in Network the other night when he urged people to e-mail their congressman in support of his re-election. (A rose by any other name; he called it “compromise on the debt ceiling” if memory serves…) I want to be Howard Beale: forget “I’m mad as hell and won’t take it any longer!”, I want the money where the mouth is. I want the 70%--almost 3 out of 4—of the American populace who receives goodies from the fed to get out there and demand their due. We have impressive riots when someone’s team wins the Super Bowl or Stanley Cup; let’s win one for The Gipper and mount some chaos in the streets that hasn’t been seen since the heady anti-war days of the 1960s. Yeah, I’m advocating actions based on a faulty premise, but the faults cannot be recognized until the actions are undertaken.

“But wait!” the cynical reader says. “You admit to being an entitlement-oriented jackass on the federal teat! What’s your fate if this comes to pass?”

First, I worked and paid into the system all my life. Had I been allowed to keep what I earned, and invested it on my own instincts, I’d be approximately five times wealthier than my current state of poverty. Calling what I earned and gave to this government for all their misguided bullshit an “entitlement” when it comes to returning it to me on the back end—which I thought was the agreement—is an insult. I’ve known Mafia dons who would kill you for a slap in the face like that.

I’ve lived in a shotgun frame house with no insulation and no electricity, cut my own firewood for woodburning stoves that were the sole heat source, bathed in creeks with homemade soap, grown my own food—animal and vegetable—and, although I’m getting old and don’t want to re-live the experiences, I learned something about being an American when I was in a terrifying gray zone between life and death: I caught my breath and said “Hell no! Not yet!” According to the doctors, I was 80% dead. I’m a simple man; what that godless bastard Bill Mahr would call “a superstitious redneck” because of my spiritual values and my empathy for common folk that his arrogance marginalizes. My life is a cautionary tale that runs to negatives: don’t do this, ever, kids. It ain’t worth it.

In other words: Me and mine will get by. Always have, always will.

My federal sugar daddy has already [anally sodomized] me for the last two years without a kiss or a reach-around. I fought an epic battle with the bureaucracy last year to simply retain my basic benefits. The precedents of my case are not allowed to be used in any other proceedings against the death panels. I won my individual battle because I entered it with nothing to lose, which made me dangerous to the status quo. Like economics, I learned a valuable lesson from this: the gummint doesn’t want crazy people with loose tongues and an understanding of what’s going on to appear in open court, even if it’s just in front of an administrative law judge.

I have nothing to lose if the government folds and closes up the shop. Unlike the careerist power-mongers in DC, I will gladly sacrifice my little bit of federal largesse if they will make the symbolic gesture of giving up their Congressional salaries and working for a dollar per year. That is about the only thing that will convince me an elected official is “working for the interest of the people.”

Otherwise, I want all those misguided, ill-informed folks who voted for these corrupt, incompetent careerists to be out there in the streets—like Athens and Paris—demanding the goodies promised to them.

I want burning cars and smashed storefronts with looters running into the darkness!

As for the politicians: I said something in an e-mail today that probably got me red-flagged on an NSA/HLS computer because of key words:

“I'm nearly 60, and didn't give the best years of my life, possibly my immortal soul, and my ability to walk so a bunch of amoral, power-mad mooks could loot the ideals I nearly died for. If Al Qadea ignited a thermonuclear weapon in DC tonight, I'd be Atlas, shrug, and say ‘So what?’ They'd be doing us a favor; giving us a second chance.”

I mean that in the sense that this country needs a slap in the face. 9/11 was the worst thing in my lifetime, and nothing approaching that should ever happen again, but we need to be subjected to a full-immersion baptism in the cold water of despair before rationality becomes a nostalgic whim of the elderly.

And we owe a huge percentage of the national debt to foreign countries, some of whom are not our friends or allies. The doomsayers proclaim the world economy will be thrown into disarray if we don’t fulfill our fiscal obligations.

I’m just a stupid, superstitious hillbilly whose opinion doesn’t mean squat, but I say, the hell with ‘em. Let the rest of the world get along without us. It might be time for a return to pre-WW II isolationism. Let the collectivists, theological fanatics, and tribal warlords perish in the feces of their failed ideologies. If America is so damn evil, we should be cut off from the rest of the world. Let’s go there, do that, and you can tell my great-great-grandchildren how that worked out.

And if the rest of the world shows up at the door with their collective hand out, wanting repayment for what the corrupt politicians of the last 100 years borrowed, tell them “Too bad. We’re broke. Bankruptcy, we’re starting over. Wanna get in line and wait for someday? We’ll repay you eventually, but we ain’t Wimpy and the hamburger won’t get repaid next Tuesday.”

Yes, we can repay them all in good faith; someday. In the meantime, if they want to muscle up, there is a facet of American will that’s forgotten: we are the most powerful nation on Earth. Our wallet may be empty, but like the Roman Empire in its final days, we are the greatest military power on the planet. It would not serve anyone well to mess with us on a strategic global scale, and despite the posturing by China and the former USSR, they knew it. The analogy is my kneecapping Mafia collectors at the front door; you might get paid if I can afford it, but meanwhile go away so’s I can wash dishes and earn a few bucks.

(Disclaimer for the Ministry of Homeland Security: I believe assassination to be morally wrong, and the worst way for succession of governmental power. I believe in passive civil disobedience as defined by Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, not the violent actions of street rioters protesting “racist” police actions, meetings of industrialized nations, or clamoring for governmental goodies. I advocate change of government in the United States through Constitutional exercise of the right to vote. I do not advocate the overthrow of the United States government by seditious or violent means. However, I think a little housecleaning might be in order, and if others agree with me in more forcible terms, it ain’t my fault. I didn’t put them up to anything. You have better things to do than reading this blog, so get ‘er done!)

This country isn’t founded on compromise; it’s founded on revolution.

Friday, July 22, 2011

The End of the Affair...

...and a few last words.

Van Hammersly has provided the longest and most thought-provoking comments in the history of this blog. What follows are, I assume, his last words on the affair. They are personal, and contain a bit of R-rated language, but are very cogent. I agree with a lot of what he says. I appreciate the participation and debate, and hope Van Hammersly will remain a Constant Reader.

My own last words on the Jerome Ersland case appear at the end of this post:

VanHammersly has left a new comment on your post "When I'm wrong...":

I am not an ACLU attorney, nor an attorney of any type - although, I've always held a fairly strong, personal interest in law. And, at one point in my life, did seriously consider pursuing a career in law. I never did, however - other interests won out. And, although my current knowledge of law and the legal system does not approach that of a professional level, I do feel confident in saying that it very likely surpasses, by a significant stretch, that of the average person. I'm not, nor have I ever been, involved in law enforcement in any capacity. I'm also not a "gun-grabber" - although, I do identify as being, in general terms, quite "leftist" in my political and social views. However, that being said, I do hold a number of opinions that a good many people who would also self-identify as "leftists" would consider to be fairly right-wing in nature. One of those views, I suppose, would be my opposition to any sort of prohibition of firearms that would keep guns out of the hands of responsible, law-abiding citizens. I am entirely for responsible gun ownership. In fact, at least a small part of my interest in the Ersland case stems from that fact - that those who would attempt to force prohibition could use the case to bolster their argument. And that only by denouncing such cases of irresponsible gun use can one reasonably, and effectively, counter such positions. Lifting Ersland up as some sort of hero for his irresponsible actions only gives weight to the arguments of the "gun-grabbers" - as they may point to the case as a real world, concrete example of what will become common if the other side gets their way. To me, the Ersland case is a clear cut example of someone who went way too far - someone who clearly stepped outside of their legal and moral rights, and it should be those who champion responsible gun ownership who call loudest for the legal system to make clear that such transgressions should not, and will not, be tolerated. In fact, regrettably, I must admit that seeing the disturbing frequency of reactions along the lines of: "Fuck the LIEberal pussies who want to take way[sic] guns. If it were me I wouldn't have been as kind to that punk as Ersland was. I'd have put a couple in his kneecaps and let him think about the choice he made to fuck with me until the cops arrived." (an actual comment I once saw) makes it ever more difficult for me to not re-evaluate my position and side completely with the "LIEberal pussies" on this issue.

However, with that one point aside, my interest in the Ersland case is nothing more than a personal one as an unrelated observer - and, I suppose, has more to do with the reactions of people to the case than with the case itself. I first became aware of the case a day or two after the robbery had occurred. From almost the outset - from seeing the security video, and hearing Ersland's own interviews with local news - it seemed apparent to me that Ersland was at least somewhat in the wrong - he went too far. In the very early goings I wasn't convinced that his actions were particularly egregious, and had it been up to me to decide Ersland's fate based on nothing more than what I knew of the incident at the time, I probably would have decided on some form of fairly light punishment - enough to make it clear that he did overstep his rights, and would have to pay something of a price for doing so, but that he had committed no great, unpardonable affront to civilized society. What shocked me, however, was the commonality of reactions to the case that I saw in those early days. I encountered a ridiculous number of people who seemed to feel that no matter what actions Ersland took, he would have been entirely justified. Often, they knew very little about the case, and felt they didn't need to know anything - to them, it was enough that he killed a bad guy, and, no matter what, that fact alone made him the good guy by any and all measures. I've always held a strong, visceral dislike for that sort of myopic, small-minded, simplistic, it's-either-black-or-it's-white-end-of-story thinking. I consider it wholly dangerous - the commonality of it being one of the base causes for most of the problems we face as a society. And, the Ersland case seemed to cast a lot of light on just how common such thinking is. So, I followed the case right up until present day. As time went on, and more facts came to light, Ersland's guilt, and the extent of his wrong-doing, in my opinion, became more and more clear - Ersland's innocence became more and more indefensible. Yet, I saw no change in the numbers, nor opinions of those supporting him. They weren't interested in facts. They were interested in story-books - in super-hero comics - a guy in a black hat was killed, so the one who did the killing must have been wearing a white hat - and that was that! End of story! Unfortunately, that's not the way the real world works. I, from time to time, engaged the most vocal of these types in debate. And, in doing so, was forced to research heavily into the case so I could have the facts in hand. Again and again I ran into the same types of people - always being Ersland supporters (That's not to say that all Ersland supporters were like this - the owner of this blog being proof of that - but that all such types seemed to be Ersland supporters.) - their attitude was always the same: "I don't give a damn about facts! My mind is made-up, and no manner or quantity of facts that runs contrary to my opinion will ever change my opinion." I hate that attitude. It is the hallmark of stupidity - and I hate stupidity. Thus, my interest in the case was fueled.

I am not, nor ever have been, a lawyer of any type. I'm not a police officer, nor have I ever been involved in any type of law enforcement. I was not a juror in the trial. I'm not related, by blood nor acquaintance, to anyone involved in the case. I've never even been to Oklahoma. I did, at one time in my life, many, many, years ago, while I was in my late teens, have a loaded gun pointed at me by someone who had a very long, and quite violent criminal history. He was looking for information regarding someone else who had an equally long and equally violent criminal history, and he had reason to suspect I had the information he was looking for. I was unarmed at the time, and my reaction was to put my hands in the air and nervously squeak out the answers to his questions as I tried very hard not to release my bladder. Fortunately, I was successful regarding my bladder, and in answering his questions to his satisfaction, and he left without further incident. I'm not sure how I might have reacted had I been armed, but I strongly suspect it wouldn't have been any different. If it had been - if I had perhaps shot him in the head, I hope I would not have left the room and returned almost a minute later to find him squirming on the floor in a pool of his own blood, only to go and retrieve another gun, come back, and shoot him five more times. If I would have done that, I fear I'd be just as guilty of murder as Ersland is.

It is a mistake to think that my opinions regarding Ersland stems from any sort of sympathy for the person Ersland killed - for him, I have very little. He cast his die, and it didn't come up in his favor. Ultimately, it was his own willful actions that led to his death. And, well, "Those who live by the sword..." That does not, however, in my eyes, automatically grant impunity to anyone else who may have unlawfully played a part - and that, of course, includes Ersland.

It is also a mistake to think that I do not feel a citizen has a right to meet a potential deadly threat with deadly force. If Ersland had stopped after the first shot, or even if he'd have fired all six shots into the boy in succession, I'd very likely be among those calling him a hero today. He was within his rights to use deadly force to avert the potential threat to his life and his co-workers. He did that with the first shot. Then, he came back. and, after having ample time to take account of his situation, executed someone when a reasonable threat was no longer present. He did not have, nor should not have had, the right to act as judge, jury and executioner - but it's clear to me that's exactly how he acted. And, like the dead robber, these were his willful actions. He cast his die. And, now, he's suffering the consequences. As he should.

My final words on this matter:

I carry. I fully understand the doctrine of lethal force and its application. (Sometimes referred to as the Rules of Engagement.) I'll do what I have to do, and know how to do it. God help me, I've done it before, and have no illusions or "heroic" fantasies about doing it again. No one should have to go to that place. To want to go there is unthinkable.

'Nuff said...

Sunday, July 17, 2011

When I'm wrong...

…I’m wrong.

What follows are more comments from a first-time reader who got involved in the Jerome Ersland case and took issue with me on my somewhat fervent defense of that individual.

It took longer than I first thought, but I reviewed the links and find compelling arguments and facts. Feel free to copy and paste them into your browser, as I did, and make a personal decision.

As earlier asserted, if I think I’m mistaken, I’ll admit it. Short of actually being on Ersland’s jury, hearing every last forensic detail, and reviewing the surveillance tape frame-by-frame to see if the robber’s Glock actually fires and cycles, I am inclined to recant and retract my earlier indignant defense of Ersland as a clear-eyed, clear-headed hero.

Too often in this era of politically-correct gun-grabbers, anyone who legally and successfully defends themselves with a firearm is subject to approbation and persecution under the color of the law. My initial reaction to Mr. Ersland’s prosecution was, in that regard, a knee-jerk response of the worst sort. Being too lazy to do my own research, and too dependent on general reportage, which also portrayed him as a righteous vigilante, I assumed the liberal surrender-monkeys who would sacrifice innocent lives on the altar of appeasement and submission to evil were at it again, coming after one of those increasingly rare Americans with the guts to make a stand against predation.

I may be wrong here.

“I may be” is equivocal, but I am going to leave it up to the courts to make a final disposition on the balance of Mr. Ersland’s life. I rushed to judgment, reaching my own verdict based on personal empiricism without sufficient factual input, and subjective conclusions and speculation.

Jerome Ersland may, in fact, be a disturbed individual who was waiting for a quasi-legal opportunity to kill someone. Van Hammersly’s recounting of remarks by a detective friend are especially resonant. I, too, have known people with that mind-set the detective describes. I didn’t take this into consideration…another mistake on my part.

The remark the detective makes about people scripting little movies in their head is especially powerful. I, too, re-play little movies in my head, but unfortunately they are re-runs of unscripted events. I’m quite fanatical about movies being a wonderful medium for shared experiences and moments in time that we can live through vicariously, but they seldom capture the intensity, banality, and sheer horror of moments like those caught on tape in that Oklahoma City pharmacy.

I have what is regarded in court as “a reasonable doubt.” In Jerome Ersland’s case, it was initially a doubt of guilt, but now it is a doubt of innocence. I’m glad I wasn’t on his jury.

I stand by my personal remarks that if anyone threatens or makes a run at me, my family, or any innocent bystander in my immediate vicinity, I’ll blow the offender up like a party balloon if they present lethal force. I don’t share Mr. Ersland’s “Clint Eastwood fantasies”, but I have zero tolerance for murderers, thugs and robbers. I’m not Bruce Willis with those two-fisted .45s in “Last Man Standing,” but I have enough real-world competence that if it’s within my power, no one around me dies.

Please read on, and chase the links. This is powerful stuff, and creates a reasonable doubt as to Jerome Ersland’s guilt or innocence. In good conscience, I can no longer defend him.

VanHammersly has left a new comment on your post "Best comment ever!":

Well, I'm glad you like long comments, 'cause here comes a longer one:

Ersland lied about back injury for years:

Here's Ersland, himself, on video, telling police that he received his back injury during combat in the Gulf war, and he suffers from PTSD because he "killed a lot of people there."

Problem? His subpoenaed military records show that he was stationed as a military pharmacist at a base in Oklahoma throughout the entirety of the war. He never saw a minute of combat in his life:

Ersland's 911 call - and interview with local news - claiming that both robbers were armed and "came in shooting." News story confirms Police say no shots were fired by robbers:

Ersland fabricated evidence:

Ersland plants a spent .22 shell casing:

1:40 of video: Ersland lies to police before security video comes to light - says he grabbed both guns at the same time. He also says he shot the last five shots into the injured robber BEFORE chasing the other robber out of the store, because (with a bullet already lodged in his skull) "he was going to hit [Ersland] as he went by". Ersland changed his story after the security video was released showing his story to be completely false.

0:14 of video: Ersland says it's "unfortunate" that he wasn't able to shoot the fleeing robber "in the back" because of the type of round he had loaded - Evidence he was just looking to kill someone and "self-defense" had nothing to do with it.

0:50 of video: Ersland admits to firing in public at fleeing robber.

Ersland discharged weapon in the street, putting citizen's lives in danger:

2:28: Ersland admits that he shot the injured robber five more times because "he kept stayin' up" - proving that (a) the first shot was not fatal, (some have argued that the first shot killed the robber, so Ersland couldn't be guilty of murder as the first shot was justified, and its not murder to shoot a dead body) and (b) his firing of the five rounds was with "deliberate intent"

2:42: Ersland says both other people in the store had gone to the "the very the back room" at the time of the shooting. Proving Ersland was the only witness to the shooting. The 911 call (linked above) corroborates this, as you can hear the five shots on the recording while one of the coworkers talks to the 911 operator. She says there's gun shots and says it "might" be the "pharmacist" shooting as he also has a gun - obviously she can't see what's going on. (in answer to you earlier "all of the witnesses" comment - Ersland was the ONLY witness.)

So, Ersland chased the other robber down the street, shooting at him while he was fleeing. Did Ersland also believe that the fleeing robber posed an immediate threat to his safety that could only be thwarted with deadly force? If so, why did he pursue the threat? Is it common for someone to pursue a person who they fear is going to kill them? This action shows that Ersland was simply looking to kill, regardless of any threat. If he was in fear for his life from the fleeing robber, he wouldn't have chased him. If he wasn't in fear, then he was clearly willing to kill someone by whom he did not feel threatened.

He spent his ammo firing at the fleeing robber, returned to the store, stepped over the injured kid, and with his back to him the whole time (watch the security video) retrieved another weapon from a locked drawer, walked back to the incapacitated kid, and, standing over him, at close range, fired five more shots into him. That's not self-defence. That's a cold, calculated execution.

Ersland claimed that he shot the five extra rounds because the injured robber kept moving. That's how he justified the shooting - the kid wouldn't have been much of a threat had he been laying there unconscious. But, Ersland's claim is also an admission of "deliberate intent". I.e. - he deliberately intended to shoot the robber. He was moving, so Ersland made a conscious decision to shoot him five more times. The act was deliberate and intentional - deliberate intent.

Deliberate intent is one of the criteria needed to be fulfilled for 1st degree murder under Oklahoma law. Ersland admitted to it. So, that part, at least, is not up for debate. The other criteria that needs to be fulfilled is whether or not the killing was justified. That's what was in question in the Ersland case. The killing could only be be a justified killing if Ersland was thwarting an immediate threat of serious injury or death. But, none of his actions, or the available facts of the case, are consistent with that. He pursued a supposed threat down the street, firing at him - a person does not pursue another that he feels is an immediate threat to his life. Would a reasonable person not have felt the robber he was chasing to be more of a threat than the one he murdered? The one he was chasing didn't have bullet in his head, and was armed. He expressed disappointment that he was unable to shoot the fleeing robber - showing that he wasn't interested in negating a threat so much as he was in dealing out a little street justice. And, he showed no caution toward the injured robber - stepping over him, keeping his back to him, leaving him alone with his female co-workers. Think about it - chew it over in your head for a minute - he chased the other robber down the street, was disappointed he wasn't able to shoot him, then, right after that, returned to the store and shot the injured robber. That fulfills, beyond a reasonable doubt, the second criteria - the shooting was not in self-defense, and therefore, unlawful. The killing was unlawful and deliberate.

In Oklahoma (I quoted the statute in my previous comment - from that, you should have all of the information necessary to find the actual law easily yourself online) If you have deliberate intent AND the killing is unlawful, it's 1st degree murder. It doesn't matter one iota how I, nor you, nor anyone else may or may not react if we were in the same situation. If I reacted the same way, I'd be just as guilty as he. The law is the law. If you take a life unlawfully, you're a murderer. If you do it with deliberate intent, it's in the 1st degree.

Ersland committed first degree murder, and he was charged, convicted and sentenced accordingly. The Justice system worked in this case. There were three scumbags in the store that day - only two of them were robbers. All three of them got life sentences (Ersland's being the least harsh of the three.) The system worked.

If you ask me, Ersland is unhinged and a menace. He thinks he's living in a Clint Eastwood movie. My suspicion is that he really thought he'd be lauded as a hero for what he did - he killed the bad guy, just like in the movies. Listen to his testimony, how he explains the double-fisted shooting of the robbers - firing with a gun in each hand from behind the counter, (which didn't happen, of course, he made it up - it's his fantasy he's describing - his own movie, of which he's the star) chasing the other robber down the street, trying to get him and the driver of the getaway car as it speeds away. It was a fantasy to him. He wasn't afraid for his life, he was loving every minute of it.

A good friend of mine is a retired Police Detective. He spent 38 years on the force. I remember him saying to me one time that there are criminals out there who have these stories in their heads that they replay, over and over - what they'll do if a Cop tries to take them down. How they'll go out in a blaze of glory and "give it to the pigs". They visualize the whole thing - like a movie, its like a fantasy for them. They play it over and over in their heads. And, as a Cop, when you run into these types, you've got to be careful that you don't do anything that makes it seem to them as though the first part of their story is coming true, because if you do, they will make damn sure the last part of their story comes true for you. I think that's likely what went on with Ersland - he had this story in his head - what he'd do if any punks came in and tried to threaten him. He had the whole thing visualized. He'd take out the scum, and then enjoy his rewards as a hero for saving the day. He knew, long before anyone came in the store that day, that if someone tired to rob him, some bastard was going to die. In the movies those types of people are sometimes seen as heroes. In real life, they're always just irresponsible, dangerous threats to anything approaching a civilized and lawful society.

P.S. - I'm glad you're pleased with my earlier comment. :) I was involved in another discussion regarding the Ersland case and was searching Google for a reference I'd lost, and in doing so, came across your blog-post in the search results. I've got to say, unapologetically, that I've been running into a lot of Ersland supporters that seem to be genuinely unthinking, reactionary, myopic, hysterical clods, fueled purely by blind emotion and fear. I thought you might be another one of them, and was still a little heated from a recent encounter with such an individual. So, I felt the need to offer some commentary - it's sort of a fault of character that I suffer from - a frustration with such types that I feel I need to alleviate by engaging with them. I see now, however, that I was in error in my initial estimation, as you appear to be an intelligent, reasoned person with whom I may just share a difference of opinion. And, I do enjoy, and welcome, exchanges with such people.

Posted by VanHammersly to United Possums International at July 15, 2011 4:02 AM

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Best comment ever!

And then there is this, regarding the Jerome Ersland case:

"Gunfire is exchanged" - Uh, no it wasn't. There was no "exchange" of gunfire. Forensics proved that Ersland was the only person to discharge a weapon that day.

"Ersland’s watch is blown off his wrist by a bullet" - Ersland lied about that to bolster his story. He bandaged his wrist that he received no injury to - thus, he fabricated evidence. ...just like he lied to Police about being a combat veteran, suffering from PTSD, and being injured during combat in the Gulf. Oh yeah, he also miraculously found a .22 shell casing while alone in the pharmacy, a casing that all of the police that had been through there in the previous couple of days, an entire forensics investigations team that had conducted a thorough search of the site, and all of his co-workers had somehow managed to overlook.

"Ersland rushes to the door behind him" - ...and follows him out, chasing him down the street, carelessly discharging his weapon in a populated area as he went, almost hitting a mother and her infant.

"...but was still moving, according to all the witnesses" - By "all the witnesses", you mean Ersland.

"The dead perpetrator was subsequently found to be unarmed, hence the charges against Mr. Ersland." - The fact he was unarmed had nothing to do with the charges against Ersland. Ersland was charged because, with malice aforethought, he executed the robber while he posed no reasonable threat. That's 1st degree murder. If Ersland would have stopped after the first shot, he'd be a free man today - regardless of whether that particular robber was armed or not. With the first shot, Ersland ended the threat. He then chose to execute the incapacitated robber.

"Mr. Ersland had robbery victims cowering in the back of the store" - That he chose to leave alone in the store with one of the robbers that he apparently felt still posed a real threat.

"...where his buddy was blazing away at an aspirin-peddler." - Again, this was a fabrication on Ersland's part. It was Ersland that opened fire. Nobody, other than Ersland, discharged any weapon that day.

"Jerome Ersland didn’t premeditate anything." - According to Oklahoma law, he did. QUOTED: "Title 21. Crimes and Punishments, Chapter 24 Section 701.7 - Murder in the First Degree - (a) A person commits murder in the first degree when that person unlawfully and with malice aforethought causes the death of another human being. Malice is that deliberate intention unlawfully to take away the life of a human being, which is manifested by external circumstances capable of proof."

Ersland admitted that he had deliberate intention - he admitted malice aforethought. So, that part of the law was fulfilled. The only question was: Was the killing lawful? The jury didn't think so, as to be lawful there would have had to have been a reasonable fear of imminent serious injury or death to himself or others. The Jury felt that Ersland's fear - if he even had one (he CERTAINLY didn't act as though he did) - was not reasonable. They, for some strange reason, felt that it's not reasonable to fear imminent serious injury or death from someone who's lying face down in a pool of their own blood, slowly dying from a bullet lodged inside their brain. Especially after you step over that person, and with your back to him the entire time, go and retrieve another weapon - because you've spent all of the ammunition in your first weapon chasing someone down a populated street, firing repeatedly at them, trying to shoot them in the back - then returning to the "threatening" person, and, standing over them, at close range, pumping five more rounds into their back.

"Please join me in prayer that Mr. Ersland will receive justice at the sentencing hearing." - It looks like your prayers worked! Ersland has been sentenced, and he got life. He most certainly received Justice.

Posted by VanHammersly to United Possums International at July 14, 2011 2:08 PM

That has to be the longest comment I’ve ever received. It’s published in the comments section of “The Strange Case of Jerome Ersland” below, along with my reply:

Mr. VH:

With all due respect, do you have some
bona fides in this case? Were you one of the jurors, an attorney on either side, or even an extremely fascinated spectator who followed along from the public gallery in the courtroom or the daily coverage in the newspaper?

My "research" is based on general reportage, speculation, and my own experiences with use of lethal force in unanticipated circumstances. If you will be so kind as to provide public record citations for your assertions, and they prove to be valid, I will offer a public recantation of my proclamation that Jerome Ersland is a "hero."

Like my research methods, his actions may have been "unsound" as to resolving the situation, but I cannot call an elderly man in marginal health a "premeditated murderer" when he is suddenly forced into a thug's game for mortal stakes. I think his response was entirely reasonable.

One of the few things from this article you didn't take issue with or put in quotation marks was my assertion that if faced with a similar situation, I'll "light [you] up like the Fourth of July." I would do this if you pointed a cap-pistol at me or mine. If I'm wrong in the aftermath, it's better to apologize than ask permission, and I'll lay flowers and remorse at your headstone.

My father was murdered by a serial killer, and I have been in military combat and civilian gunfights. Perhaps this colors my perception of whatever happened in that Oklahoma City pharmacy—and I'm sure it does—but unless you've been there and done it, you can have no concept of what it's like.

Thank you for your input on this. If you can go a step further in proving me wrong, and validate your statements, I will admit I'm wrong. Until then, I will stand by my point of view.

Oh, and I left out the doctrine of "equal culpability." If you are a participant in an armed robbery, and your partner kills someone, you are equally gulity of murder under federal and state statutes. If you are an unarmed accomplice and tag along with your homey while he rips off a drugstore at gunpoint, and you end up dead on the floor, well, that's kind of the same thing, ain't it?

I often wonder if I’m writing for anyone besides a handful of Constant Readers and my own amusement and/or therapeutic catharsis. I have no clue who “VanHammersly” is, but I am truly appreciative of his/her thoughtful commentary. The fact that it’s at odds with me, and calls me out on my previous statements, only makes it more interesting.

I write from an egocentric, personal point of view. I’m notoriously lazy about research, and depend on my drug-and-alcohol-addled memory too much of the time. Other factors, like insomnia, inattention, or post-REM, pre-awakening consciousness also serve as filters on my perceptions of reality. (I can’t cop out on the dope and booze these days. Life has gotten strange enough without psychedelic overload or whiskey blackouts.) Still, I try to pay attention when something rings my bell, and I have found myself using the Internet when I’m uncertain of details and need to verify something.

Speaking of verification, if Van Hammersly will supply sources and citations for the point-by-point refutations above, I will be only too happy to vet them and publish them. (The same goes for anyone else who thinks I’m incorrect, over the top, or talking out my ass about any given subject.) Personal, egocentric writing does not mean I have my mind made up, and don’t want to be confused with facts, or that I reject and deny any correction. I’m accustomed to being more wrong than right and I really appreciate it when people tell me I’m going off the rails.

If Van Hammersly—or anyone else—can provide valid documentation that my statements are incorrect, I will gladly publish that documentation and publicly admit I’m wrong. I have no problem with a mea culpa, but as I said in my original comment reply, I cannot and will not regard Jerome Ersland as a murderer who acted out of malice aforethought. He did what he did in the heat of the moment, and my ultimate rule of thumb on his actions is this: If it was happening to me, I’d do the same thing. I wouldn’t be thinking about the police, the courts, getting ugly looks at the next PTA meeting, or what my Aunt Vera might think when she hears about it.

We go about our everyday lives with the reasonable expectation that we will be left alone, free to proceed with whatever we’re doing. When someone steps in with force, the threat of violence, or lethal intimidation, everything changes in an instant. In that instant, you have to decide if you’re going to become a hostage or a victim, or, like Todd Beamer and the passengers of Flight 97, you’re going to accept the fact that you might die no matter what happens next, and take action. If I think a terrorist or a robber is going to kill me regardless of my reaction or compliance, then that individual is going to have his hands full until I’m dead on the floor…or he is. I don’t have a ready statistic on acquiescence versus resistance in hostage and robbery situations. What I do have is a comparison with another drugstore robbery just days after Jerome Ersland was convicted. A gunman entered a pharmacy in Medford, New York, and no one resisted. When the robber calmly walked out, four innocent people lay dead.

Better to apologize than ask permission. If that was a cap pistol you pointed at me, or a comb you were holding under your shirt when you demanded my money or threatened me, then I’ll apologize at your gravesite for the two holes in your chest and the one in your head. I’ll bring flowers and remorse, and for the rest of my days I’ll have pangs of regret that you were stupid enough to try whatever got you killed in the first place. Life is precious, and God’s greatest gift. The only thing worse than throwing your life away in a stupid, reckless act is to be the victim who allows a stupid, reckless punk to take your life.

Even though the juries in the Casey Anthony and Jerome Ersland cases have proven exceptions to the rule, it’s still better to be tried by twelve than carried by six.

"We, the jury..."

I’ve had interactions with the American judicial system. Not just those pesky traffic tickets I’ve mentioned—although they’re nothing to laugh about; speeding is not a joke, and DUI is inexcusable—but serious business. 2006 marked the 10th anniversary of my troubles, so I no longer apologize or try to explain what happened. It’s complicated, involved a vendetta, and got me indicted and dragged into federal court. A few of my Constant Readers know the story; for everyone else, you’ll just have to follow along at home. If anyone has an itch to know, my e-mail is in the profile here, and I’ll tell you one-on-one.

Suffice it to say that my family was devastated, my life was damn near ruined, and like my father’s murder, I have never recovered from it. My experience with the judicial system affected my entire perception of the government, and confirmed my most cynical suppositions about the lengths bureaucrats will go to in order to justify their actions and cover their asses. I received a fair trial and a just outcome, but I will never trust a politician or a government minion again.

I have a rote speech composed in my head, just in case I ever get called for jury duty again. I would ask to address the court—restraining the urge to address “Your Honor” as “Your Highness” as I once did, to my great misfortune—and inform them that I have no prejudice towards the prosecution, and no particular sympathy for defendants, and would appreciate the privilege of doing my civic duty in a fair and impartial way. (Hey! I’m retired. Jury duty would be an easy way to earn a few extra bucks, and might be interesting. The last time I sat on a jury, I nearly busted a gut laughing. See “The Robbery”, posted somewhere in my archives on this blog.)

All that being said, where are they finding jurors these days? By my standards, I’m late in posting this commentary. That’s the price of growing old: I had to wait for a while, and cool down. I dumped five attempts at this blog post before deciding to embark on another adventure in writing. (The best adventures are when you set out with no idea where you’re going.)

I know where I’m going with this. First, that awful Casey Anthony woman skated away from a murder conviction. What she did to her child was unspeakable, and certain of conviction, I supported life in prison without parole, so she could wake every morning realizing the party’s over, and she could think about what she did to her only daughter. There are worse things than dying. (I joked that she should get the death penalty for monopolizing the news, and that the jury would give her the needle for making them be in court over the July 4th holiday, but bad jokes are often deflections of horror, and my sense of humor is darker than a cloudy day on Uranus.)

Instead, she gets time served and change for lying to the cops. That’s it, folks. The civil suits and investigative-expense liability vouchers are starting to stack up, but that’s money she doesn’t have, and the book deal and movie rights should cover them. Given the depth of hostility against her, I don’t think she can live in Florida any longer, but there are 49 other states where she can hide, with California and Alaska being in the Top Five. America is still a place where people can re-invent themselves, whether they deserve redemption or not.

I want to reiterate what I posted on Facebook™ in the heat of the moment: There is a God. My father’s killer fell under a truck and OJ will—hopefully—die in prison. I will have a passing interest in seeing how this soulless sociopathic bitch’s karma levels out. There’s a final judgment for her to face, but life on earth can get pretty ugly before that if you show up on God’s radar as irredeemably evil.

So, I’m trying to cool down and decide if I should even attempt a commentary on the Anthony travesty, and something else comes along and slaps me in the face.

My last two posts have concerned themselves with Jerome Ersland, the Oklahoma City pharmacist who defended himself against two armed robbers, and saved the lives of innocent bystanders in the process. I consider Mr. Ersland a hero; a man who was forced into playing for mortal stakes, and won.

Unfortunately, Mr. Ersland’s final resolution of the situation he found himself in was brought into question in a court of law. He dropped one of two assailants in a shoot-out, and ultimately gave the wounded thug five goodbye shots. For this, he was charged with murder, convicted of manslaughter, and at a sentencing hearing last Monday, was given life in prison.

This is so wrong!

There is footage extant of Marines on Iwo Jima giving fallen Jappers goodbye shots. I’m sure there is footage from Vietnam of the same actions being taken. A wounded enemy has the bad tendency to roll over and toss a grenade at your feet or shoot you in the back. Sometimes they will get to their feet and charge you with an 8-inch knife and a grenade. If you have the misfortune to find yourself in the lethal force zone, you must finish whatever got started. Those fake-bloody bullshit Hollywood movies are not training films or documentaries. “Down” is not “out”, and death can literally bite you on the ass when your back is turned.

Mr. Ersland’s opponent was down, but still moving. His hands were not visible. The adrenalin dump from an incident like the gunfight he had just engaged in is overwhelming. Mr. Ersland is formerly Lt. Colonel Ersland, and knows the facts of life. I’m obviously at odds with his Oklahoma jurors, but I find his actions entirely justifiable and defensible.

(When I taught combat/home defense shooting, I left out the detail that you always reload and deliver a goodbye shot to the head. If I have to find fault with Mr. Ersland, it’s that he sent five to do the job of one. We lose our edge with age and lack of range time, so it’s understandable.)

A murderess goes free, and a hero goes to prison for life. Like Lord Cornwallis, I want to cue the band to play “The World Turned Upside Down.”

Jerome Ersland has an appeals process. Additionally, the Oklahoma governor can pardon him or commute the sentence, and there is legislation pending in that state to expand their “make my day” law to include places of business and public access, as well as private residences. Hopefully, the Oklahoma legislature will “grandfather” this clause to include Mr. Ersland, and he will receive some true justice that way.

Jerome Ersland will have to live with what he did, and for him, it will be a moral burden only somewhat mitigated by the knowledge he did the right thing. Casey Anthony will have to live with what she did, and for her, it will be a smug assurance that she got away with murder. The party—“la Bella Vita” as her tattoo proclaims—will continue for her, at least for a while. She can move to L.A. and continue her drinking, bi-curious dancing, and flashing gang signs while she negotiates her best book, movie and reality show deals to pay off the civil suits that will follow in her wake.

Hopefully, when her decomposed remains are found under a freeway overpass, the authorities will identify her by that “tramp stamp” on her shoulder.

Hopefully, Jerome Ersland can eventually go home to his family, fade into obscurity and find inner peace. I don’t think he’ll be negotiating a book or a movie-of-the-week on Oprah’s network.

Now, show of hands: how many of you still want terrorists tried in civilian courts?