Friday, December 20, 2013

Alex Jones Lies

     Social media has escalated the tin-foil hat revolution.  Baseless, fact-lacking garbage is multiplied a million-fold with the click of a mouse.  When reading the latest drivel, every person has to wonder what truth lies behind the sensationalism.  For once I’ve had a front row seat to the malicious nature of shock journalism.
     Fifteen years of my law enforcement career were spent on the Midland County Sheriff’s Office SWAT Team.  My last five years on the team were spent as commander before I transferred to the District Attorney’s Office.  I’ve worked in or with many government entities in police and military capacity at state, local and federal levels.   My experience is that most government failure is the result of incompetence, complacency or indifference; all of which make a successful far-reaching conspiracy almost impossible. 

     Around 1998 our team received two M113 Armored Personnel Carriers from the military’s 1033 program.  The current conspiracy theory is that these vehicles are to be used against civilians in a massive sweep to move the population into death camps.  I never received any orders to take people to death camps, but we did deploy the vehicles in several high-risk situations.  My team and its command consisted of very strong, proud patriots so I didn’t have much concern about their part in a world-domination plot.  By providing smaller agencies with gear like the M113, the government has reduced the dependence of local police upon state or federal tactical assistance; which is the exact opposite of the alleged conspiracy.  Further discredit of the 1033 foil hat theory is fodder for another blog post.

     In 2007 our M113, nicknamed “Bubba,” was used to capture Pedro Armendariz in Hobbs, New Mexico.  We were called to assist the New Mexico State Police because Pedro was firing on officers with an SKS rifle from inside his home and we had the closest armored vehicle.   I drove the vehicle during the incident and managed to run over Pedro’s junk car while maneuvering the 12 ton APC into a position to deploy gas into the house while Pedro bounced rounds off the APC's hull.  I still haven’t heard the end of the ribbing. 
     The conspiracy spin begins with a smartass in the office next to me.  Said smartass had access to a sign printer.  It’s important to note that the road signs you pass every day on the street are blank when purchased.  Since there are a few basic shapes and colors, it’s cheaper to purchase them blank and print adhesive vinyl lettering and pictures as needed.  Our jokester decided it would be funny to stick a small adhesive car near the driver’s hatch to commemorate the fate of Pedro’s car.  He didn’t stop there.  He also wanted to mark successful arrests made during the vehicle’s deployments that year:  Pedro Armendariz and Larry White.  Larry killed three Odessa Police Officers earlier that same year.  In the database of sign graphics, the best match for an arrested person was the stick figure used for pedestrian crossings.  So “Bubba” was adorned with a small adhesive car and two stick figures.

     In April of 2008 my team was called to assist the Schleicher County Sheriff’s Office and the Texas Rangers in the search of the Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints compound near El Dorado, Texas.  I was told that the cultists promised a fight to keep us out of their temple despite a lawful search warrant, but fortunately they didn’t deliver.  The older men ran away and left behind crying, terrified, unarmed young teen boys to defend their gates.  We were all fortunate that the incident wasn’t a bloodbath.  About eighteen men were convicted of sex crimes after the incident.  During the media blast, photos of our armored vehicle made it all the way to the national media scene, including The Oprah Winfrey Show.  That’s when my phone started ringing.
     First, it was one of my superiors.  He was getting calls about the “kill marks” on our vehicle.  I told him the story about how the marks came to be.  He wasn’t thrilled, and I was definitely having “good idea at the time” thoughts.  I told him the stickers would come off, and if he’d forward the calls to me I’d glady tell the story.  I was forwarded a few calls, and most identified themselves as media.  One tried to pass himself off as a college student but I didn’t believe him.  I told him that I wasn’t going to lie, so I would appreciate the same courtesy.  I told him the truth.    

     The calls tapered away, but I got called to the carpet one last time.  Our department had received a Freedom of Information Act request for maintenance records of our armored vehicle, and the request was specific to the incidents involving the people we killed with it.  I explained that there were no records because all we had done was change the oil, a job that was performed by the team members.  We had no records to show that we’d killed anyone because there were no kills.  That’s classic Roswellian fiction.  Demand something that doesn’t exist then cry “conspiracy” when it isn’t produced. 
     What followed was an article on Alex Jones’ Infowars written by Paul Joseph Watson.  The full article is linked below.  First, the title of the article is “Militarized Police Celebrate Killing Americans.”  The article states that Gary Roberts, “former US Army tank driver” said that the marks mean we had killed two people with what the article called an “APC SWAT tank.”  Watson goes on to claim that the only threat in the “polygamist retreat” was women and children.  The rest of the lies are shown here:

     First and foremost, MCSO’s vehicle isn’t a tank.  Tanks are larger and have fixed guns.  An armored personnel carrier holds people.  The only armament on board is the small arms carried by officers.  My experience with the FLDS has proven it to be nothing more than a cult centered on the sexual abuse of young children.  However, Watson chose to downplay the reality of the compound being a pedophile cult.  He dedicated the article to his disgust of how my team celebrated the murder of two innocent people; a story he fabricated.  My Spidey senses tell me that Watson was one of the people I spoke to on the phone.  Since the truth wasn’t sensational, he found it best to quote someone with absolutely no useful knowledge of the matter at hand.  Never let the truth interfere with a good story.
     I ignore most anti-police stories, but this one insulted a team I’m very proud of.  The men in that vehicle volunteered for that duty.  Like the sheriff who commands them, they are patriotic people who swore an oath to defend the constitution.  It is my hope that this story will sow seeds of doubt in the satirical media garbage that is carelessly spread these days.  Watson’s article is pure hatred and self-serving commercialism.  Alex Jones and those like him are a hindrance to defending ourselves against real constitutional threats.     

Sunday, August 18, 2013

The Goddard Rocket

     Circa 1983 I sat in Mr. Garcia’s math class at Goddard Junior High in Midland.  I wasn’t much of a student until well into adulthood, so many hours of that class were spent staring out the window at the Goddard Rocket.  It was on the south side of the building in those days, painted white with an air force emblem on it.  The second floor classroom put me close enough to the rocket to see  rivets, hinged control surfaces and access panels.  She was definitely real and definitely guided.  As a young rocketeer I learned that forward fins only worked on guided missiles.  I almost burned a vacant lot to the ground with a model rocket while familiarizing myself with stability. 
     Years later, I’m still a rocket builder.  Cold War era machines fascinate me more than ever, and the Goddard rocket was moved to the southwest corner of the football field.  It was nicely painted with school colors and affixed to the same display mount.  While I was researching info for a scale model rocket project, I ran across Andreas Parsch.  He's the owner and operator of, a website dedicated to collecting information on rockets, drones and missiles that I used for research.  I went through his site and couldn’t find a match for the Goddard rocket.  I sent him an email photo and he quickly returned an answer along with a link to a page on his site I’d overlooked.
     The Goddard rocket is GAM-63 RASCAL ( Guided Air-launched Missile, RAdar SCAnning Link).  It was an early 1950’s nuclear capable weapons system designed to be launched from the B-36, B-47 and B-52.  The “captive carry” launch system meant that it had to be attached to the underside of the bomber.  The bottom fin folded so that the weapon could be slid under the mother ship on a dolly, so our local example must have lost this part somewhere in her travels.
     The RASCAL didn’t work out so well for the Strategic Air Command.  She was expensive, burned toxic fuels and the performance was problematic.  With one successful test flight out of 65, she makes a better giant garden gnome than a tactical weapon.  Around 136 were produced and were either tested, destroyed or pressed into junior high mascot service.  MISD probably paid nothing for their rocket, but I’m sure a study of the development costs would compare to a gold life-size bust of Dr. Goddard himself.  I’d like to know more about how she made it to the football field.
     I always loved static military displays as a kid.  I miss the Odessa American Legion’s tracked artillery piece and Hawk missile and Corpus Christi’s guns under the harbor bridge.  I suppose old military gear is no longer a fashion statement, but it still impresses me.  Fortunately there’s an old practice bomb case from Midland Army Airfield that serves as a bird condo in my back yard.

     I will update this blog with any new info that comes to me about the rocket's history.  If you have any info, please comment or e-mail!

Here are some links to more info on the GAM-63.  The first is cool 50’s military film:

Update:  Here's the rocket from a 2003 Google Earth photo showing the original color and location:

Update:  1979 yearbook photo:

Photo courtesy Susan N. Freeman

Thursday, June 13, 2013


     This post is a project for a Humanities class to show examples of modes of reflection and expression.  I mirrored it to my regular blog so the links would work correctly.

     The YouTube link below will take you to a 2008 performance of Cool #9 by Joe Satriani in Paris.  He is accompanied by bass guitarist Stu Hamm, Jeff Campitelli on drums and Galen Henson (a Lubbock native) on rhythm guitar.  These are some of my musical heroes and I've had the honor of meeting them.  This piece was released on Joe's self-titled album in 1995.  In this album, he explored a different style of recording based on multiple live tracks, and he called in some top notch talent to back him.  The album has a fusion feel with Joe's rock roots.  I've been a fan since his first album over 20 years ago and have enjoyed hearing his music evolve.  Joe writes so much music that he often names pieces by the "feel" of the song and the sequential number, hence the title "Cool #9."  A few others have made it to press with their original names:  Dreaming #11, Ice 9, etc.  Stu is my bass idol and it's worth the searching to hear a few of his solos.  The recording begins with a vamp groove and the song starts at 1:25.  The guitar lick at 2:48 will send a chill up your spine (still puts a lump in my throat) and there's a nice little break at 3:30.  Joe will be making his first appearance in Midland on September 29.  My son and I already have front row tickets.

     I'd also like to share with you a piece by Dick Kramer.  Dick is well known in the police and military for his representational art depicting specific military branches, police roles and individual units in pen or pencil drawings.  He has an interesting bio:  I had the pleasure of meeting him at a SWAT conference several years ago.  He's a very nice fellow and I bought a large print of the following piece that now hangs in my office with his autograph.  He gave me the best advice for buying art: "Buy what you like, then wait for me to assume room temperature and hope the value goes up."  This piece is called "Homeland Heroes."  It depicts a SWAT team covering their grenadier who's deploying a "flashbang) distraction device. Photo is from Dick Kramer Studios,
     Studying stoicism and epicureanism in this class has often reminded me of Tomas Paine's "The Age of Reason."  This pamphlet conveyed a belief in Deism, which similarly dismisses much religious thought in favor of reason and natural law.  The following is a portion of this writing that is often referred to as his "creed:"

          I believe in one God, and no more; and I hope for happiness beyond this life.
          I believe in the equality of man; and I believe that religious duties consist in doing justice, loving mercy, and endeavoring to make our fellow-creatures happy.
          But, lest it should be supposed that I believe in many other things in addition to these, I shall, in the progress of this work, declare the things I do not believe, and my reasons for not believing them.
          I do not believe in the creed professed by the Jewish church, by the Roman church, by the Greek church, by the Turkish church, by the Protestant church, nor by any church that I know of. My own mind is my own church.
          All national institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions, set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit.
          I do not mean by this declaration to condemn those who believe otherwise; they have the same right to their belief as I have to mine. But it is necessary to the happiness of man, that he be mentally faithful to himself. Infidelity does not consist in believing, or in disbelieving; it consists in professing to believe what he does not believe.
          It is impossible to calculate the moral mischief, if I may so express it, that mental lying has produced in society. When a man has so far corrupted and prostituted the chastity of his mind, as to subscribe his professional belief to things he does not believe, he has prepared himself for the commission of every other crime. He takes up the trade of a priest for the sake of gain, and in order to qualify himself for that trade, he begins with a perjury. Can we conceive any thing more destructive to morality than this?
                                                            -Thomas Paine, "The Age of Reason" (1794)
     Last is a Haka, or Maouri dance and chant called "Ka Mate" and came to be sometime around 1820.  It is performed before each game by New Zealand All Blacks, the famous rugby team.  The video at the end is the All Blacks performing the haka before a game. It exemplifies a Maori belief in the triumph of life and good over death and evil.

Here's the All Blacks' version:


                                                 Ka Mate Haka

Ka mate ! Ka mate !I die ! I die !
Ka ora ! Ka ora !I live ! I live !
Ka mate ! Ka mate !I die ! I die !
Ka ora ! Ka ora !I live ! I live !
Tenei te tangata puhuru huruThis is the hairy person
Nana nei i tiki maiWho fetched the Sun
Whakawhiti te raAnd caused it to shine again
A upa ... ne ! ka upa ... ne !One upward step ! Another upward step !
A upane kaupane whiti te ra !An upward step, another.. the Sun shines !!!
Hi !!!
(Translation from

Monday, March 11, 2013

Six Mile Trails

     Sometime around 1980 I got my first motorcycle, a 1976 Kawasaki KX 125.  It isn’t possible to explain the elation that went through my 10 year old brain as this was still the On Any Sunday era.  We lived out in the county and I learned to ride on some private property with a few trails and lease roads near our house.  Once I learned the ropes and kept the bike vertical most of the time, I was graduated to the Six Mile Trails in Midland.

     The trails are bordered by Interstate 20 and Business Loop 20 (old Highway 80) between Loop 250 and South County Road 1250 in Midland County.  At the time I started riding there, 1250 was still dirt.  I remember the impressive sight of a mile of pickups parked on the service road lined up bumper-to-bumper with motorcycles buzzing everywhere.  It was an intimidating place for young riders, but the old salts were quick to show me the ropes.  The riders established the direction  and other courtesy rules of travel on the course, and I soon learned to get out of the faster riders’ way.  The trail system had four major lobes that adjoined a central circular track around an old windmill tank near a “buffalo wallow.” 

     Sunday was the big day for the trails, with dozens if not a hundred spending the day at the track.  My family would pack lunch and drinks along with enough pit gear to keep me going through the day.  My mom usually watched in horror as I tore up the dirt with the much older and more experienced riders.  Trail riding is different than motocross, and this is where I discovered the zen-like state that a long motorcycle ride delivers.  Even a kid experiences stress, and I was happy to leave my worries on the track. 

     As I entered high school we moved closer to the Six Mile Trails.  I was now able to hit the trails in the evening and summer days when almost no one else was there.  My cousin and I discovered that we could reach the trails with a short trip down a county road to the dirt.  The trails would take us all the way to the National Truck Stop where we could refuel and score snacks and drinks. 

     During my first semester at Midland College, my Kawasaki KLR 250 was my only mode of transport, rain or shine.  While the KLR is a perfect dual-sport machine, I learned quickly that the wear-and-tear of trail riding makes it tough to get to school in the morning.  More than once the odd mesquite-flattened tire caused me to be late for class.  I once lost a license plate after crushing it between the tire and fender on a jump.  Still, the trails were a great escape.

     I didn’t own a motorcycle again until 2003.  I still made trips to Six Mile Trails, but this time it was on a mountain bike.  I worked evenings and would make morning trips to get a workout.  This is when I noticed the end of the trails coming.  Four-wheel ATV’s were becoming the norm, and they changed the shape of the trails.  There were now two “ruts” instead of a concave cross section, and it altered the feel and speed on two wheels.  The biggest change was that the trails were very popular and people began centering around the lake bed instead of alongside the road.  For some reason, riders started cutting numerous new trails near the lake bed to the point that it was tough to discern the original trails.  Accidents were becoming more prevalent, and it was common to see four helmetless kids piled onto a four wheeler while drunk parents looked on.  Much of the land was owned by the City of Midland, and one day the “no trespassing” signs popped up and the sheriff’s office began enforcing the closing.

     The Regional Planning Commission built a police driving track on the north side of the trails sometime around 2000 and the trails evolved around the driving track.  Agri-Empressa purchased a large chunk on the east side that fenced off the southeast loop.  I drove by the site in January of 2013 and saw that most of the property is being developed and the remaining trails are disappearing into vegetation.

          It is also the site of the best snipe hunt ever conducted.  Sometime around 2004 when I was a patrolman for the Midland County Sheriff's Office, I rolled up on a suspicious vehicle inside the circular lake bed track one winter night.  It was a group of teens, and one of them came running up to me.  She explained that it was a snipe hunt for an out-of-state relative who desperately deserved practical joke revenge.  It was a slow night, so I told the girl to act scared as the other kids walked up to see what was going on.  I put the word out over the radio and was soon joined by a couple more deputies and the high sheriff himself.  I began reading the Endangered Species Act (well, I made it up) and explained that the snipe was endangered and snipe hunters could be subjected to a hefty fine.  All was going according to plan until one of the co-conspirators broke out laughing.  The victim conceded that revenge was duly served, and we all posed for a photograph with the kids.  The mark was featured with his snipe stick and bag in hand.

     I’m saddened to see Six Mile Trails fade away, but it’s the price of a strong economy. Not only is it where I found a love for motorcycling, it is where I flew model rockets with my son, hunted rabbits with my cousins, and had tailgate parties with high school friends.  I miss the dirt bike days, but my  Councours 14 and miles of open road does the trick these days.

    The photo is dated 1996.  The major trails are visible, but the newer trails can be seen.

     I’m sure there are others with memories or historical info about the trails.  Please comment and share your story!