All posts by Marshall Frank

Movie Critique: "88 Minutes"

Seeing as I’ve been an avid movie fan and lover of music since my crawling days in the crib, I thought I’d add a lighter side to my blog site. I’d be happy to hear what readers have to say.
If it weren’t for the presence of mega star and fine actor, Al Pacino, 88 Minutes would probably make most of it’s money being sold at Wal-mart in one of the $1 bins.
Good movies are tough to find these days, as the motion picture market caters mainly to children and young adults which feature gore, extreme violence, terror, plethora of smashed cars and buildings, million-bullet shoot-em-ups, raw sex, garbage humor and animated stories. Such is where the money is. Once in a while, a fine drama emerges, wins an Academy Award, then flops at the box office.
The problem with 88 Minutes is not action, drama or suspense. It has plenty of that. It’s the sheer absence of plausibility to the point of being absurd.
In a nutshell: Al Pacino is a Forensic psychiatrist whose testimony helped put a sadistic killer on Death Row nine years earlier. Naturally, the killer professes his innocence as his date with death nears. Suddenly new murders begin to emerge throughout the city using the same modus operandi; young women hoisted upside down, raped, tortured and then killed. Pacino is brought into the scene immediately by the FBI to help investigate. That’s when he receives a phone threat by a garbled voice telling him, he has 88 minutes to live.
From there, Pacino runs around in a panic as a number of other women are found killed, including his girl friend, and gives orders to police, FBI and other resource agencies to check this and that. The suspense comes, trying to figure out if the guy in prison is actually innocent, and who is behind the new onslaught of murders. The FBI begins to think Pacino, himself, may be the guilty party.
Sure, I was a thirty-year cop and I tend to see the flaws in a police-thriller movie. But I’m also a fiction writer, and I can live with a few non-sensible coincidences and some unlikely scenes, because folks…it’s fiction. But not this.
First, In my sixteen years working murder cases in Miami, I know of no detectives that ever consulted with a forensic psychiatrist during a murder case, yet work side by side with him in the streets. It just doesn’t happen. Lawyers may use them at trial, usually the defense type, for their expert opinion. Second, if and when a private psychiatrist is involved in an investigation, he certainly is not privileged to bark orders at police supervisors as though he were in command of the field. Third, other than crimes that cross state lines or where the murder occurred on federal property, the FBI is not in charge of any city/county murder case. They are handled by the local police agencies. So, why is the FBI there at all? (Head shaking)
But this is the kicker. Nine years earlier, the first victim is found hanging as her twin sister abruptly stumbles on the killing scene. Ah, a witness. She tells the police that the room was dark, and she didn’t get a good look at the subject. In legal terms, that usually means: No I.D.
As it turns out, the evidence upon which this man was convicted, was — of all things — the twin sister’s identification (who didn’t get a good look him in the dark) and,(get this) the expert opinion of the psychiatrist who said he was positive this guy did the killing, though he had no other evidence other than a personality profile. Well, that’s pushing it. If any defendant was put on trial based on personality profiles and poor visibility identifications, he’d be freed on a directed verdict by the judge in a New York minute.
There were other stupidities in the picture, but I think you get the idea.
So, friends, if you just want some suspenseful entertainment that makes no sense, but you’re an addict for Al Pacino’s acting, go for it. If you still seek a smidgen of authenticity in a police story, don’t waste your money on 88 Minutes.

OBAMA'S VIDEO MESSAGE TELLS ALL

Senator Barack Obama has been accused of speaking in ethereal terms, promoting hope and justice, rarely engaging in specifics about his proposed policies. That’s not exactly true.
There is a 52 second video floating around the Internet circuit in which the senator looks directly in the eye of the camera and announces his intentions about global weaponry and war systems, and what the United States would do if he were in the top position. 
Click here: YouTube
This is good. Now we know. Americans should listen closely to those 52 seconds because — in a few words — it tells us much about what to expect if this man ascends to the Oval Office.
Evaluate for yourself:
* He will end the war and immediately start pulling troops out. He’s already told us this. Ending the war is a good thing. We all want to see an end to the war. The questions remain, however: In what manner, how rapidly, will there be chaos, mass murders and destruction in the path, what will happen to the 100,000 civilian workers in Iraq, how will this affect the current government in place, and how will our image play out to the world community if we immediately abandon our commitment toward protecting and stabilizing the Iraqi people?
* He will impose massive cuts in defense spending, eliminate unproven missile systems, slow development of future combat systems and not weaponize space
* He will set a goal of a world without nuclear weapons, cease developing new weapons, seek a global ban on the production of fissile material, take ICBMs off hair-trigger alert, and seek deep cuts in our nuclear arsenal.
I must say, that sounds great. There could be nothing better than creating a world without war, without hate and without weapons, especially the nuclear variety.
If only the other nations would agree to do the same, and then keep their promises. If the governments of Iran, North Korea, Syria, Hezbollah and Hamas – plus the extreme factions of radical Islam everywhere — all agree to disarm and promise not to be aggressive, then we should believe what they say. Eh?
Does the name: Neville Chamberlain come to mind?
First of all, anyone who has read my writings knows I was opposed to the invasion from the start. That’s where my agreement with Obama comes to a halt. Right or wrong, we are there. We can’t put the toothpaste back into the tube. And as Colin Powell told us, “We break it, we have to fix it.”
A rapid departure from Iraq would exacerbate the situation by inciting a collapse of the Iraqi government which is not yet prepared to go it alone. Thousands of citizens would be sent to their deaths at the hands of rebels and al Qaeda, a blood bath between Sunnis and Shiites would ensue, and Iran — an avowed enemy of Israel — would be given an open door to take control. The people of the world — who already have a negative view of the United States — would loathe us even further for turning our backs and failing to keep the commitment we made to the Iraqi people.
“Sorry, Tariq. We changed our mind.”
Scaling down weapons and combat systems is also a great idea, if only everyone else would do the same. From all I have read, it’s doubtful that al Qaeda — nor other radical Islamic groups — will change their minds about bringing down the west. Iran’s leaders have sworn to destroy the state of Israel. Hamas and Hezbollah are committed to driving the Jews into the sea, which is consistent with the intentions of Palestinians — and most of the Arab world — since the inception of Israel in 1948. Nothing has changed there. Those commitments are etched in concrete.
Of course, some of these nations and/or extremist organizations might tell us one thing, then do another. If our leaders haven’t learned the lessons of history at this point, then they should not be our leaders.
Most every scholar and politician agrees that the fall of the Soviet Union was primarily a result of an unwavering position of strength on the part of the United States. In the 1980’s, had we scaled down our military, or slowed development of combat systems, or cut defense systems and reduced missiles, we would still be dealing with the Soviets as an “evil empire.”
Mr. Obama suggests that we should weaken?
Today, we are still at war — maybe it’s against radical Islam, maybe Iraqi rebels, maybe al Qaeda, maybe even Iran, but to be sure, foreign enemies are out there who are sworn to destroy the United States, by violence or subterfuge, from within or from outside. They’ve made that crystal clear. Those voices of hate and power cannot be ignored any more than the world should have ignored Mein Kampf. They are well armed and well financed. To propose weakening our defense systems at a time when we are constantly in fear of being under attack as we were on 9/11, is naive at best and utterly incompetent at worst.
I’m like everyone else. The people of this planet would love to see the eradication of nuclear weapons. So…let’s just agree to do it, right? Seeking deep cuts in our nuclear arsenal in the hopes that other countries will do the same can only be proposed by someone who still believes in Santa Claus and the tooth fairy.
Madeline Albright is a liberal Democrat and no fan of George W. Bush. She said it best. In her book, Memo To The President Elect, the former Secretary of State writes, “If we disarm, and others cheat, we would be vulnerable to nuclear blackmail.”
Blackmail would not be the worst of it — should others cheat.
I hope U.S. Congressman Steve King was dead wrong when (should Obama be elected) he told the Daily Reporter, “The radical Islamists, the al-Qaeda … would be dancing in the streets in greater numbers than they did on Sept. 11th, because they would declare victory in this war on terror.”
It’s one thing to have varied views regarding government. It’s another to live in La-la Land and self-destruct. Forget about all the other domestic issues. That 52 seconds of video tells us why electing Barack Obama to be our president is tantamount to national suicide.
But…he speaks so good.

POLICE MISCONDUCT SKEWS PUBLIC CONFIDENCE

Some folks reject the old cliche`, “Don’t judge an entire profession by the actions of a few.” But it’s true.

Having been a cop for thirty years, and well aware of how news stories are often skewed to give the appearance that police are the bad guys, I generally hold back judgement on reports about brutality until both sides of the issue are known. In 1991, Rodney King was subjected to a street whipping by L.A. Police after leading them on a chase, assaulting the officers and resisting arrest. The famed video tape was played on national television a thousand times over, but only that portion which made the cops look bad. (And they did)

My sense of loyalty will always lean toward police officers who put their lives on the line every day to serve and protect Americans. If there is a hint of doubt about the veracity of an accusatory report, I will support the police until I am convinced otherwise. After all, they are my extended family. With rare exception, they are brave, diligent American patriots who might be relaxing over a lunch one second, then facing a sudden crisis the next, expected to make the right decisions at all times, no matter how instant.

This time, it’s tough. Two recent incidents alleging police misconduct have hit the news media, both of which are hard to swallow, even without knowing the other side of the story.

Stark County (Canton) Ohio, Mrs. Hope Steffey was hauled in to jail following her own call to the cops, after allegedly being assaulted by her cousin. Because she produced a drivers license that had belonged to her deceased sister, the police thought her to be suspicious. She claimed it was an error, that she held her sister’s license for sentimental reasons, and then produced her own identification. When the woman — who had no criminal record — asked for her sister’s license back, the officer refused. Somewhere in the interim, tempers flared and the woman’s face was slammed to the hood of the police car, chipping one of her teeth. She then was taken to the ground where she was arrested and handcuffed.

Okay, maybe the woman was unruly and the cops were justified. Maybe. Benefit — doubt.

Next, Mrs. Steffey was taken to the county jail and forcibly strip-searched to naked, under protest — while handcuffed — by six or seven deputies, including two male officers. Stark Countýs policy — as are all police policies — states that a strip search must be conducted by a same sex officer. The citizen turned inmate was left unclothed in a cell for six hours without even a blanket, wrapping herself in toilet tissue for warmth and modesty. She was not allowed a phone call or medical attention. When she was brought to booking, only a small weighted vest was provided to cover her nudity. She had been charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.

More amazing, is that these officers not only engaged in conduct which appeared improper, they did it under full scope of a video camera. Check it out. It’s quite condemning: http://www.sheriff.co.stark.oh.us/

Stark County Sheriff Tim Swanson states the reason Mrs. Steffeýs clothes were taken from her and she was left naked in a cell, was for her own safety. Sheriff Swanson maintains that his deputies are not guilty of any wrongdoing and that they have a job to protect prisoners in their custody.

Ooookay.

Needless to say, litigation has already begun. I hope Stark County is solvent.

The next case is even more disturbing. On February 12th of this year, a disabled man was arrested for a traffic warrant in Hillsborough County, Florida, and taken to the police station. Brian Sterner had suffered a neck injury fourteen years before, and has no feeling below the chest area. With an adapted vehicle, he is able to drive.

Though a bona fide, wheelchair-bound, quadriplegic, the female deputy at the station apparently thought Mr. Sterner was faking the whole thing. So, she stepped behind his wheelchair and unceremoniously lifted the back handles and dumped him like a wheelbarrow full of cement upon the station floor. Another deputy is seen in the tape, apparently amused. Mr. Sterner was then searched while lying on the floor like a beached seal, obviously paralyzed. If I hadn’t seen it for myself, I would have doubted it all. Click here:

By all accounts brought out in the tape, these officers should be stripped of their badges, not only because of their contemptible actions, but for utter stupidity knowing that despite the video cameras rolling, they still act like barbarians.

I feel comfortable in asserting that 99 percent of all police officers in this country are fine, upstanding and competent public servants who do not engage in such behaviors. The other one percent would comprise a very small number from the 850,000 cops in the United States, and even that, I’m sure, is an exaggerated number. But by broadcasting these incidents over national news, over and over, it will unfortunately give the cynical public an impression that the majority of cops are unfeeling idiots who should be feared and not trusted. Nothing can be further from the truth.

During my career with a three-thousand man department, I rarely encountered cops who indiscriminately abused citizens. With rare exception, officers I knew treated citizens with respect and dignity, even child molesters and murderers. Yet, when it came time to bring a bad cop to justice, my colleagues and I never had any compunction. My last arrest as a sworn officer, in 1980, was that of five officers charged with the brutal killing of an unarmed traffic offender. Their acquittal led to the Miami Liberty City riots of May, 1980.

Police agencies spend arduous time and a great deal of money screening applicants and training officers to prevent such incidents from happening. Now and then, a bad cop will slip through the cracks. That’s the way it is with most any profession. I’m sure the cops who acted so poorly in these two videos will soon be experiencing a new direction in their lives.

In 2007, 186 police officers were killed in the line of duty protecting you and me. Another five thousand were seriously injured. Folks should bear that in mind before judging harshly and broad brushing the police profession.

I’m proud to have been one of them.

CONSERVATISM: I WALK THE LINE

Not long ago, a good friend and I engaged in the taboo — a discussion about politics. When I said something critical of President G.W. Bush, my friend lashed out, “Well, that makes you a liberal and me a conservative.” Not so. But we ended the conversation and remained friends.

Labels are everything. It’s how simple minded people relate. It’s how we define one another, it’s how we define celebrities and politicians. We like the one-word pigeon holes, it makes it easy for we humans to identify who and what people are. Bush, the conservative. Clinton, the liberal. Bin Laden, the terrorist. Britney Spears, the mental case. Jack Kervorkian, Doctor Death. Pavarotti, the voice. Jeffrey Dahmer, the killer. Nixon, crook.

Much ado is being made these days of Senator McCain’s credentials as a “true” conservative.

Maybe he is, maybe he isn’t. What does it matter? All that matters is his loyalty to the nation as an American, and his ability to lead the nation in fiscal responsibility and to make our citizens secure from foreign invaders.

These days, if a politician is opposed to abortion, that makes him a conservative. Pro-choice, means liberal. If a Republican dares to join with Democrats in forming bi-partisan legislation, the party dubs him disloyal and not a true conservative. Meanwhile, Senator McCain, like any politician, is sucking up to the power brokers and the special interest groups assuring everyone that he is everything they all want him to be. Just elect me, please!

Frankly, I’m sick and tired of hearing the term bantered about as though conservative means “good” and liberal means “bad.” In my book, it all depends on the issue. When it comes to illegal immigration, I’m a hard core conservative. When it comes to legalizing marijuana, I’m a flaming liberal. Go ahead. Pigeon hole me.

Rush Limbaugh is considered the number one talk-show host in America. He’s bright, articulate and a hard-core, unapologetic conservative. I take issue with his brightness. One can listen to Rush on any given day and you cannot find one sentence from his lips that does not utter the words “conservative” or “liberal,” invariably in positive and negative context. That’s all that is on the man’s mind, pigeon-holing individuals according to their so-called “conservative” values.

We hear that stupid phrase all the time on news shows. I often wonder what it means — “conservative values” — as though it is synonymous with “Christian values.” Frankly, I would prefer hearing about American values, which could be liberal or conservative, Jewish or Christian, rich or poor, black or white. American values is all that matters.

Rush consistently lionizes George W. Bush as a great conservative. Is that so?

George W. Bush, and his Republican congress, presided over the greatest six years of spending in the history of this nation, never vetoing any bill that contained billions of dollars in unnecessary earmarks. That’s the kind of politics liberals are usually accused of.

George W. Bush presided over the greatest surge in illegal immigration in the nation’s history by failing to have the Justice Department prosecute employers, then proposing a plan that would give amnesty to over twelve million illegals. That’s a conservative?

George W. Bush argued to allow our nation’s ports to be secured by a Islamic mid-east country, not long after three thousands citizens were murdered in a terrorist attack by mid-east Islamics. Conservative?

Now, Rush, and other hard-core “conservatives” are on the warpath dubbing McCain as not being conservative enough, and pledging to scuttle his election. In doing so, he and others like, him, (Hannity, Beck, Savage) are dooming the Republican party in the upcoming election by handing it over to Hillary or Barack. Maybe that’s not a bad thing, depending on one’s orientation, but it’s plain stupid on the part of the so-called kings of talk shows.

Fact is, John McCain has often been accused of being the Republican party maverick because, historically, he does not march in lock-step with party policy, thus demonstrating he has a mind of his own. I consider that a good thing. What’s best for America is, and should be, always more important than what’s best for the party. Politics aside, I have always respected the man.

Meanwhile, as Hillary and Barack stand by laughing, Republican in-fighting will assure the Democratic nominee the forthcoming election. All over a stupid label. After January of 2009, the Rush Limbaughs and Sean Hannitys of America will bitch and complain about all the liberal policies of the new president, the pro-life Supreme Court Justices, the clamp on run-away spending, and the stop to an unnecessary war, pointing fingers and issuing blame everywhere but in their own bailiwick — which is where it will belong.

As for me, I’m waiting for the first candidate to tell us what he or she will do about the impending incursion of radical Islam extremism within the borders of our country. That, alone, will likely be the most pressing problem facing the future of America, yet no one utters a word.

Is that a liberal or a conservative issue? It’s neither. It’s an American issue. It’s about our grandchildren. Let’s hope the next president has the guts to stand up to the threat.

As for me, ask me the issue before assigning a label. I’m a fan of another great American named, Johnny Cash. Just like him, I Walk The Line.

COPS IN PRISON – WHERE'S THE OUTRAGE?

Where is the National PBA? The National FOP? The International Association of Chiefs of Police? The National Association of Police Organizations?
Why are the cops of America remaining silent? Where is the outrage?
In September of 2007, nearly 20,000 demonstrators marched on the small town of Jena, Louisiana to protest what they thought were discriminatory practices by the prosecutors office against local blacks. It brought national attention to an issue which is still yet to be resolved. But, it sure made a lot of people listen up. Perhaps the nation’s police officers should pay attention.
Whether it be issues of blacks, gays, Hispanics, women or even illegal aliens, people have been rising up across America to confront injustice, from suffrage to the civil rights movement to this very day. Most of the time, it renders results, because there is power in the people, and power in numbers. When numbers band together, government listens.
In the last seven years, police officers have been the target of federal prosecutions like never before in history. One case after another, scumbag drug dealers, thieves, robbers, many of them illegal aliens, are being given perks and rewards for no other reason than to testify against law enforcement officers. And for cops who are convicted, it’s often an automatic ten year sentence because of the minimum mandatory laws that are imposed on judges when anyone is convicted of a crime while in possession of a firearm.
Of course, police officers possess firearms. Yet, in virtually all these cases, juries are not informed of the penalties cops face.
One juror in the case against Officer Stephanie Mohr stated, after trial, had he/she known that a minimum of ten years would be her sentence, she would not have been found guilty. The “crime” did not warrant ten years in federal prison.
In truth, the “crime” did not warrant prosecution, yet the government went after her with a fervor.
A decorated K-9 cop in Prince Georges County, Maryland, Mohr was on the scene of an attempted burglary where two illegal aliens were caught at one a.m. atop a commercial building. After the subjects scaled down, it appeared one was going to run, so she released the dog. The man was bitten on the leg and apprehended. Five years later, one cop on the scene traded a long prison sentence for turning witness against Mohr, saying the bite wasn’t necessary. One day before the statute of limitations expired, Mohr was indicted. It took two trials, and mega thousands of taxpayer money, plus a search for the “victim” who had long since returned to Central America, just to secure his testimony. He never complained.
Mohr, a mother, is now serving ten years in federal prison, while her “victim” was afforded all kinds of favors compliments of the government. In the land of the free.
Everyone knows about the case against Border Patrol Agents, Jose Compean and Ignacio Ramos, who shot a drug smuggler in the butt as he was running back across the border, leaving more than 700 pounds of marijuana behind. Nothing was considered wrong, until the Mexican government complained. The two career cops were then prosecuted after the smuggler, a lifelong illegal alien criminal, was given special treatment, medical care, a special pass to cross the border, and more, just for his testimony. Johnny Sutton, the prosecutor, forgot to mention to the jury, that the smuggler was apprehended again before trial, for more criminal acts in the U.S. These officers, both family men, were sentenced to more than a decade in federal prison. The land of the free.
Even if the officers had not followed proper procedure, it warranted administrative action, not a prison sentence. But who cares about ruining lives.
Johnny Sutton also went after Deputy Gilmer Hernandez of Rocksprings, Texas. On a dark night in 2005, Hernandez stopped an SUV filled with alleged illegal aliens. As he approached the vehicle, it sped off, nearly running over his foot. He fired at the tires. People bailed out. One woman was hit in the teeth by a ricochet bullet. Four days later, the Mexican consulate complained. Mexico snaps its fingers. America jumps. Sure enough, Hernandez was indicted and eventually convicted and served a full year behind bars, a convicted felon for life.
Americas Most Wanted, John Walsh wrote a letter to the president urging consideration of these injustices. See :Click here: amw.com | John Walsh:
Twelve year Border Patrol agent, Noe Aleman and his wife went about following legal procedures to adopt their three teenage nieces from Mexico. An apparent glitch in the issuance of a visa brought the wrath of prosecutor Johnny Sutton who loves nothing better than to wreck the life of a cop. Instead of clearing up the matter administratively, which was entirely possible, Noe was arrested and then convicted of harboring illegal aliens. He served six months in jail, his life a shambles. Read the story: Click here: Border Patrol Agent Noe Aleman
Johnny Sutton logged another victim in the likes of Border Patrol Agent, Gary Brugman, career cop, who did his job by chasing down illegal aliens and in one case, had to physically restrain a smuggler who appeared to be ready to assault another officer. Sure enough, Sutton praised the Mexican consulate in trial, as Brugman sustained a conviction and was made to serve two years in federal prison, while the criminal dirtbags laughed all the way to freedom, replete with benefits. Read: Click here: Gary Brugman – Another Victim
Border Patrol agent, David Sipe, of Pinedas, Texas, chased down twelve to fifteen illegals in 2000 and ended up in a scuffle with one. As the smuggler was going for Sipe’s gun, he hit the man over the head with a flashlight. In my day, it was legal for a cop to defend one’s self. Anyway, federal prosecutors managed to secure testimony of three illegal aliens who helped convict Sipe and end his seventeen year career as a law enforcement officer. But Sipe managed to get a new trial, and the case was thrown out. Seems that the prosecution filed to tell the jury about all the favors that were bestowed upon the aliens in exchange for their testimony, including green cards, cell phones, and more, not to mention immunity from prosecution.
The “Bush War On Law Enforcement” press conference was held in April of 2007, and sponsored by the Friends of the Border Patrol. I urge everyone to read the transcript.
Click here: http://www.fobp.us/Files/Docs/Bush_War_On_LE_Statement.pdf
Rep. Ted Poe of Texas, in the House of Representatives, March 15, 2007: “It makes you wonder, Madam Speaker, why our Federal Government is so relentless in prosecuting border agents…Why must our Federal Government withhold and hide evidence that is favorable to the defense in a criminal case? Is it just so they can have convictions of border agents? It makes one wonder, does it not, Madam Speaker?”
I’m no bleeding heart for cops who commit criminal acts. The last arrest I made as a sworn officer was of five fellow cops in 1980, who had beaten a man to death for speeding. But the government is taking it too far, and too many of our nation’s sentries are wasting away in prison cells for no good reason, while their families languish. This is all known to us, but we sit by.
In years past, most of these valiant police officers, who risk their lives daily to protect you and me, would have been seen as heroes. Today, they’re seen as convicts. Is it any wonder why so many young men and women are reluctant to enter the filed of law enforcement in 2008?
It’s time for police officers everywhere, and those who support law enforcement officers, to rise up and let our voices be heard. Write the president. Write the Attorney General. Write your national and local media. Your senators and congressmen. There are over 800,000 cops in America, yet their voices are silent.
Why?