Tuesday, August 18, 2009



The secret service is considering expanding the security perimeter
at future public Presidential events.

(August 18, New York, New York) Our right to purchase, own, bear and in some places, carry firearms is a guarantee of our Constitution. The Second Amendment provides the principles by which an armed citizenry was an intention of our Founding Fathers. Contrary to popular beliefs, there is not a “gun problem” in America. the “problem” is that far too many criminals have guns and use them in the commission of crimes. Most firearms be they rifles, shotguns or pistols are owned responsibly by law abiding members of society. There are hunters and target shooters, sportsmen of all types as well as those who own a gun as a means to protect and defend their property and family. Personal protection has been a growing concern over the last 20 years and more and more Americans are now armed. There is absolutely nothing wrong or odd about this. Perhaps if more responsible people owned guns we would have less crime against persons and property. Unfortunately, illegal guns and people who own guns illegally muddy the waters in the public debate about our Constitutional right to bear arms.

Gun laws vary from state to state. Some states have very restrictive laws governing the ownership of firearms while others are much more lax. Some states allow legal gun owners to carry their weapons openly and / or concealed. They have every right and privilege to do so.

What has been garnering a great deal of media attention lately have been some rare instances where citizens have openly worn their weapons at or near venues where President Obama was appearing. This is disturbing.

The United States Secret Service has been forced to adapt to this new, albeit uncommon, reality. Having people in the crowd at presidential appearances or in close proximity poses an additional challenge for the agents charged with protecting president Obama’s life. The possibility that a firearm could fall into the hands of a person bent on harming the President has caused the Secret service to alter some of their field operations. Several local Police Departments in cities where the President is a frequent visitor have also begun to bolster their security efforts coordinating and working closely with the Secret Service.

Protecting the President has always been a very challenging task, one which the Secret Service has excelled at for many years. Their methods and technology have allowed our President’s to function publicly within a safe “bubble”, a series of ever more tightly guarded perimeters. This multi-layered approach as well as other more clandestine-type tactics have evolved over the years and have proven to be highly effective. For national security reasons the public is not made aware of every death threat the President receives nor are they informed each time a potential assassination plot or attempt is foiled. Often such victories are not made public until a particular President is long out of office.

What we have been publicly aware of for some time now is that President Obama has been receiving a very high number of death threats. Even before he was elected president, than candidate Obama was granted Secret Service protection earlier in the campaign than any other candidate in history. The President himself and his wife Michelle had actually discussed his personal safety, at length, prior to his announcing as a Presidential contender. They were aware of the risks that the first African American with a real chance to be elected President would undoubtedly face. Since becoming our President on January 21st, the risks have increased at an alarming rate. The presence of armed citizens at recent Presidential events is seen by many as an ominous sign. “It’s one thing to carry a weapon on your person if you have the legal permit required. It is another thing to bring that weapon to a public gathering and still another thing to wear it, unconcealed, where anyone else in the crowd could make a grab for it. That is the scenario that most concerns us”, commented Agent Brian W., who is currently assigned to Barak Obama’s Personal Protective Unit. (He and other Agents interviewed for this post asked that they be identified only by their first name and last initial for security purposes.)

“responsible gun owners should be responsible enough to not bring a weapon to an event where a politician and especially the President of the United States is in attendance”, said Dr. William Dowd a Forensic Psychologist at BronxWest Consulting and former FBI Agent said. Dr. Dowd continued, “Mob mentality is something that we must always be acutely attentive to. When a crowd becomes a mob or when a small segment of a peacefully gathered crowd turns into an angry mob, the danger increases exponentially. If a firearm is readily available then even a person who did not come with a weapon to that event now has access to a weapon. This is a worse case scenario in the making.”

Law enforcement experts agree that the “opportunism” of having armed people dispersed randomly in a crowd is a potentially dangerous variable. “We are not so much concerned with the legal, rightful owner of a gun being armed in public. We are worried about the guy next to him or behind him or somebody else in the crowd who sees a gun and suddenly decides he going to do something bad. That could be a very dangerous situation for everyone involved”, said retired Secret Service Agent Mario B.

It is not too difficult to see the hazards of having armed people mingling in a large crowd at a political event. If a person with evil intent or a deranged individual who suddenly “snaps” is in proximity to a person bearing a firearm, they suddenly have instant availability to that firearm. We are all too familiar with how, in the blink of an eye, situations rapidly evolve. We have seen episodes of mob violence at sporting events, concerts, in night clubs and certainly at political forums. Armed citizens should not be permitted at certain types of events where crowds will gather, particularly at any type of political rally, forum or event. That just makes sense and, given the anger and raw emotions in evidence at recent “town hall” type meetings, it makes even more sense to restrict armed people’s access.

The core of this discussion is not a “gun” issue; no one is disputing our right to bear arms. What the core is the issue of responsibility, the matter of gun owners exercising restraint and caution. They should be mindful that the concern of law enforcement and the Secret Service is not them but those around them or near them. Given the vitriol and hostility of many of the town hall gatherings that have been broadcast on the various TV and Cable news outlets, it is easy to see why some might worry about President Obama’s safety. No one among us can imagine the public disturbances that would most definitely erupt across our Country if any harm was to come to our President; if any violent act by a group or a lone individual were to occur. We need not look too far in our recent history to see the results of unstable individuals, armed, within firing distance of the President. Ronald Reagan barely escaped with his life when John Hinkley shot him at close range in 1981. We cannot afford another episode such as that or worse.









Copyright TBC 2009 © All Rights Reserved

Monday, August 17, 2009





(August 17, Atlanta, GA) What former Atlanta Falcons quarterback, Michael Vick was charged with, plead guilty to and served time for were horrendous, deplorable acts. There can be no mistake about the severity of the crimes he committed. He served 18 months in federal prison and was released from a halfway house arrangement just weeks ago. The NFL temporarily reinstated him and he was promptly signed to a two year contract with the Philadelphia Eagles. His prosecution and conviction in 2007 cost him the balance of his $130 million contract with the Falcons as well as a pricey endorsement deal with Nike. The NFL will decide on his permanent status sometime around the sixth week of the regular season.

The NFL, in the person of Roger Godell, is an incredibly arbitrary judicial authority. Donte’ Stallworth, a wide receiver with the Cleveland Browns killed a man while he was driving drunk last February in Florida. Stallworth plead guilty, served 24 days in jail and is suspended from playing professional football for this upcoming season. So, the manslaughterer, Stallworth, knows his future while Vick remains in limbo. Seem a little strange?

But Stallworth is not the focus here, his sordid tale is just an aside, a point of reference out there. Michael Vick has been granted a second chance after his highly publicized fall from grace. His crimes struck a particularly sensitive nerve with the American public when the details of his dog fighting operation were revealed. Most people recoil at the thought of fighting dogs, of training to dogs to fight to the death, of beating and abusing dogs and , in this case, of murdering dogs by particularly barbaric means. ( Is the public as outraged when a drunk driver kills an innocent pedestrian? Just another aside.)

Last night Michael Vick appeared on CBS’s famous news magazine, “60 Minutes’. He sat through a real softball “interview” with the sportscaster, James Brown. (When did James Brown join 60 Minutes? Would Vick’s interview have been different if it had been conducted by Mike Wallace or Steve Kroft?)

Vick managed to mouth all the right words: he took full responsibility for his actions, expressed remorse and claims to have found Jesus. The veracity of his words are unknowable. Whether or not he was sincere he did what many athletes never do - he stood up and took responsibility AFTER spending time in prison. He now surrounds himself with handlers like media advisers, agents, PR managers and image makers. Not long ago he surrounded himself with a “posse” of his “friends” and they, ultimately, rolled over on him as quick as they could once the law came down on them. That was a mistake all too commonly made by young athletes. The NFL should put some restrictions on the number of “posse” members they allow to accompany any athlete during the season. But, that too is an aside.

Vick now is said to be working with The Humane Society, the very same group that provided substantial evidence that was used in his successful prosecution. Whether or not this is also another crass media maneuver or not there is no way to know for sure. Only time will tell but, there is some utility to it. If a young pro like Vick can reach out to younger people involved in dog fighting and so many of the other negative behaviors that go along with it particularly in hardcore inner city neighborhoods and poor rural areas, than some good will have in fact come out of Vick’s prior evils.

Perhaps the evolving saga of Michael Vick will serve as a true “learning moment” for some. All too often athletes, professional and collegiate, commit crimes, sometimes brutal crimes like sexual assault and rape and are either never prosecuted or they manage to buy there way out via high priced attorneys. Athletes are treated differently from the time they first display superior athletic talents. They learn they can get away with certain things, that other things are more accessible to them because of their athletic prowess and they can develop a skewed sense of right and wrong; a sense of entitlement and privilege. Michael Vick has paid his price to society, as it were, as is entitled to earn a living again as a professional football player, a member of the NFL.

NFL rosters are populated by all sorts of criminals. There are active players today who have perpetrated some serious offenses yet, for whatever reasons, and the reasons are as many as they are varied, they have not paid a full or any price for their crimes. Commissioner Goodell and the NFL itself should look much harder at the criminal activity and, in several cases, the gang related activity of some active NFL’ers. The League always brags about their “Security” apparatus and their outreach efforts aimed at rookies. They need to look closer at their efforts because too many players are becoming involved in far too many episodes. Granted, the NFL, just like any corporation and individual teams, just like any other employer, can only exert so much influence on their employees. Still, to be an NFL player is to be an exceptional type of employee in a very unique profession. Colleges and universities must also begin to crack down and apply meaningful discipline when their “student-athletes” commit crimes on or off campus. Just take a look at the University of Iowa football team and you will see a perfect example of an athletic program that has come off the tracks. Even the head football coach, Kirk Ferentz’s son, James, has been arrested twice in the last year but remains on the active roster. What message does this send to him and all other athletes?

There are no easy answers or quick fixes available and, if any have been implied here, it has been unintentional. Each episode is a unique case comprised of unique individuals, scenarios and circumstances. Still the discussion has begun and actually began long before Michael Vick ever saw a pit bull. The discussion must now continue.

If Michael Vick is not permitted an actual “second chance” with his football career in the NFL, that too will send a bad message to other men who serve their time, pay their debt to society and want to rebuild their lives. being a convicted felon is a serious, life long sanction the weight of which can be crippling. Hopefully Michael Vick has learned lessons and will never again commit felonious acts or crimes of any sort; that is, after all, the whole idea behind our criminal justice system as far as incarceration, parole, probation and release are concerned, isn’t it?









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