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Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Zimmerman verdict response

I have purposely stayed away from this subject until now. I saw an article/post that was referenced on Facebook that made me so mad and upset that I had to address it. What I am talking about is what has become the most important event to happen since OJ and/or Rodney King - the Zimmerman trial and result.


First a bit of background: our system of justice has a feature that is was not widespread around the world until fairly recently, and is not in a majority of countries now - the presumption of innocence. One can be charged with a crime and the authorities can have eye witnesses, photographic evidence, and even a confession. But, until the accused pleads guilty in court or is found guilty, they are referred to as the "alleged" perpetrator. The authorities/court is required to prove the person committed the crime. The problem with all the media attention these high profile cases get now is that the assumption of innocence is either solidified or destroyed by the time the trial starts (sometimes before as in the George Zimmerman case). The media and the talking heads all "try" the case based on public opinion, political correctness, and or what will get the most viewers or readers. Then, if the result is different than public opinion called for the talking heads and advocacy groups protest or call for a different result. The US Constitution (5th amendment) was not drafted to prevent people from having to testify (the modern usage) as much as to prevent "double jeopardy". The legal perspective of this phrase is as follows:

Five policy considerations underpin the double jeopardy doctrine: (1) preventing the government from employing its superior resources to wear down and erroneously convict innocent persons; (2) protecting individuals from the financial, emotional, and social consequences of successive prosecutions; (3) preserving the finality and integrity of criminal proceedings, which would be compromised were the state allowed to arbitrarily ignore unsatisfactory outcomes; (4) restricting prosecutorial discretion over the charging process; and (5) eliminating judicial discretion to impose cumulative punishments that the legislature has not authorized.

The civil prosecutions, hate crime prosecutions, etc. that have become more and more mainstream, in my non-lawyer opinion, go totally against the 5th amendment and the double jeopardy clause. But this sidebar has gone on too long.


The post that I read (I cannot find the link to it now - I will add it later if I find it again) mirrors many other Facebook posts, blog posts, etc. since the verdict was rendered. Basically it said poor little kid Trayvon was out for a walk after picking up milk and cookies for his grandmother and sick infants and was attacked by racist crazy man George Zimmerman. I usually do not follow crime trials and news stories about them. Someone asked me the other day about Casey (Kasey?) Anthony - I have no idea who that is) This one polarized the nation so much that I thought I would read up on it.

Here are some facts I've found:
1) Trayvon does not live in Sanford, Fla. He was there because he had been expelled from school (for the third time) this time for a drug offense. He was staying with his father's girlfriend while he waited out his suspension.

2) Trayvon's Twitter handle was "NO_LIMIT_NIGGA" (don't go all postal on me - an actual quote) He repeatedly had posted "gangsta" lifestyle type posts - what appeared to be his hand holding a gun, drug related posts and photos, etc.

There is more. If you are of a mind to you can research it like I did. Bottom line - Trayvon was not the sweet innocent teen that the media portrayed him as.

One of the arguments that is being trumpeted about is the fact that Zimmerman was "ordered to stand down" by the police or police dispatcher. If you read the transcript of the call or listen to the tape (I have), he was not ordered to "stand down". The actual line went like this: ...Zimmerman:"I'm following him"  Dispatcher:"We don't need you to do that". Not exactly a cease and desist order. The other fact is that the dispatcher has no police powers to order someone to "stand down". Zimmerman was within his rights to continue on.

Why was Zimmerman there and what was he doing, is another question that is being repeated. He had been elected by the community watch group to be the captain. He was on watch and patrolling the neighborhood. There had been some robberies in the neighborhood recently and the neighborhood watch system had been set up and intensified. Zimmerman saw Martin and went to see what he was doing. Zimmerman called the police non-emergency number and reported it. He (paraphrasing here) said there have been robberies lately and the suspects have gotten away so I am watching him (Martin).

If you listen to the only eye witness that saw anything while the altercation was happening he said that Martin was sitting on top of Zimmerman attacking him "MMA-style". That matches what Zimmerman told the police. Both at the scene and later. In fact, the police decided not to press charges after interviewing Zimmerman and the witnesses because it was obviously self-defense.
Zimmerman said he had lost Martin and was heading back to his vehicle. Martin jumped him and punched him in the face, knocked him down, and then got on him and started beating him. The injuries to Zimmerman were also consistent with this. The "stand your ground" law has been skewered as causing this death. My personal opinion is that the self-defense argument would have won the day regardless of this law. One always has the option of self-defense if they feel their life is threatened. Being sat upon and beaten "MMA-style" would make someone feel that way.

Was Zimmerman in the right? Legally, yes. That has been confirmed by a jury. Was he wrong to do what he did? Probably from a moral and sensible standpoint. Should he have been doing what he was doing? Looking back - of course not. But he was doing his duty as watch captain in a neighborhood that had had some crimes lately. He saw someone he did not know "sneaking" around the neighborhood and went to see what was going on. The real question is - what was Martin doing and why was he there? Unfortunately for him and his family as well as true closure for this event - that will never be known. It is very sad when any young person loses their life, even if their own actions contribute to the loss.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

I'm OK. You...not so much.

One of the biggest changes I have witnessed over the past forty years or so is the polarization of the population. Oh, I know that Democrats and Republicans, Tories and Whigs, vegetarians and carnivores, Beatles fans vs Stones fans, etc., have been at odds since the categorizations began; it is just that the divisions have become more and more broad. It is disturbing to me that any discourse and/or disagreement with the politically correct opinion is railed against and demeaned with increasingly loud voices. It is even more disturbing that the politically correct opinion appears to be a minority held position in a lot of cases. I realize that it is almost a cliche about how the "mainstream" media, aka the "old" media, is biased towards the liberal position; but I truly feel that these politically correct positions would not exist with any power if not for the artificial support from most of the media. (FYI, the cliche of the bias has been proven in many studies of news coverage and headlines, but that is another post)

We are terribly and possibly irrevocably divided on many major issues today. Abortion, gay marriage, voting rights, illegal immigration (I just can't make myself type immigration reform), government spending, taxation, racial issues, environmental issues, religious freedom, climate change, and OK - immigration reform ( I put it down as long as you recognize that it is a separate issue from illegal immigration) are all issues that are at one time or another at the forefront of the news and conversation. However, it is amazing to me how divisive the conversation and coverage can be. The loudest voices, backed by the media, appear to be the minority in a lot of cases. However, regardless of which side of the debate is actually the minority is on should not matter. This country was founded on the principles of freedom of speech, religion, and essentially thought.

I have stated in this blog previously that tolerance does not equal acceptance. Lack of full acceptance has been twisted by the minority opinion into hate or intolerance. I can tolerate someone punching me in the face. That does not mean I have to accept it or even like it. For example, I can tolerate gay men and lesbian women being in a relationship. I can even accept them being "married". However that does not mean I accept or approve of it. Any argument I might have against gay marriage whether based on religion, morals, tradition, etc all have validity. This is true also of arguments for it. The real problem I see is those on one side or the other will not even accept that there is another side to the discussion. For example the religion clause of the first amendment says nothing about the separation of church and state (don't believe it, here it is - "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof...") The point was to prevent the suppression of religion. That has been turned around to prevent religious expression, especially Christianity. The same can be said for the battles I listed above. Vegetarianism is a valid lifestyle. Militant vegetarianism that strives to "convert" everyone and eliminate the availability of meat is not. This holds true for most other major issues of the day. This is an annoyance in most cases, but not a life changing event for most people. The one exception to this (in my mind anyway) is the climate change/global warming "debate".

I have many posts on this site documenting my thoughts on this subject with data and links to other data that disputes the notion of anthropomorphic (man-made) global warming. The danger here is that the proponents of this notion (at least the "leaders" of the movement, I am sure there are many people that truly just want to save the planet and don't know any better) just appear to want to shut down the tools of our economy - oil, coal, and other lower cost forms of energy. I could now go into a long discourse on how if solar and wind power were allowed to compete they would not have a chance based on current technology. The false competitive position applied to these technologies currently are masking the fact that they are not feasible currently. They may become so at some point in the future, but not today. The other argument I have against the fact that the "carbon footprint" b.s. is not the driving factor of the global warming movement is that we have two technologies now that could produce all our energy needs without produce any CO2 but are not being used mostly due to "environmental" issues. They are nuclear energy and hydropower. However, if one offers up a position (no matter how valid or with whatever proof) that is contrary to the global warming nuts, it is immediately ridiculed and belittled. There are many, many scientists that have produced arguments and proof to the contrary but have not been reported or published with the same coverage as those that "toe the line".

The point of this post is to bring attention to the fact that open and free discourse and argument is critical to the growth and advancement of society and this country. It is more and more apparent every day that suppression of ideas contrary to ones own is the procedure of the day. It is very common on comment sections of news stories, blogs, and forums to see someone blasting someone with vitriol over their intolerance, something I find particularly odd. I also do not mean to imply that any one group or position has the high moral ground here. The vitriol comes from both sides of most arguments. I welcome any valid and cogent argument on any subject. This is true whether I agree with the position or not. I can appreciate a well formulated debate in all cases.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Movie and TV Badguys - NOTE!

For no real reason I have watched a lot of action type shows and movies over the recent weeks. Although I do enjoy the format, particularly when done well (not often in my opinion), it is sometimes annoying how poor the "bad guys" are when it comes to defending themselves or fighting. I came up with some guidelines and advice for them:

1) First and foremost - would it hurt you to ASK if the guys (and girls) you are teaming up with have ever shot a gun! Most of you and your team are armed with automatic weapons and still couldn't hit the broad side of a barn!
    
2) (follow up to above) Ever think of a little PRACTICE - maybe go to a firing range once or twice?

3) Even though most of you don't shoot well; a gun still trumps a knife which usually trumps fists. Why, when facing the "good guy" (who is known to be the world's best hand to hand fighter or whatever) do you insist on dropping your weapons and fighting them? Shoot them already!

4) Your side usually has a great advantage in numbers at the beginning of the battle/confrontation. Why do you always take this advantage and throw it to the wind by sending out your people one or two at a time to "check out that noise", or "go see what's taking so long", or just trying to find your adversaries?

5) (as a follow up to above) When the first one or two don't answer the radio or come back on time - DO NOT send two more to "see what is going on". Don't you realize you are being picked off little by little?

6) If you do capture your main foe - kill them! Do not pass go, do not collect $200! Don't have a heart to heart talk with them explaining your plan or your horrible childhood - you are the bad guy - they are the enemy - get rid of them already.

7)(follow up to above) OK, you didn't kill them when you captured them. Now, maybe look into the room/basement/cave/etc you are going to "imprison" them in? It probably has an old back way out, an air vent that leads back to you (I did another post about these fabulous air vents in movies and TV shows a while back - if you like this one you might want to check it out - http://justsomeposts.blogspot.com/2012/04/air-supply.html) or some other way of the good guy getting free/being rescued and coming to get you. In the end - see above - just kill them while you can if you expect to be rid of them!

I had more but got interrupted and have lost my train of thought. This should be enough to make the bad guys a little more competitive.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Happy Independence Day / 4th of July!!

I have used this post for the four previous July 4th posts. I am using it again for two reasons -
1) I read it and I don't think I could improve upon it. Not that it is the best thing ever written. I just don't think I am capable of doing better and/or getting my point across.
2) I actually have had REQUESTS for it! (hey - more than 1 is plural)

I am going to preface this a bit more. I read recently that a study and a couple of "man in the street" type interviews showed that a LOT of people here do not know the who, what, why, when, and/or where of July 4th. When asked what it is, the most common response was "Independence Day". When asked to elaborate, most could not. When pointedly asked who we attained independence from, a LOT did not know. The answers ranged from China to Germany and a lot in between. When asked when it occurred that also was missed by a majority.

When you are having your gathering, cookout, picnic, or watching fireworks with friends and/or family take a moment to go over the meaning and history of Independence Day / July 4th, especially with any children present.


I am an American. Like the majority of those living in this country, I was born here as were my parents and their parents. Like the great majority of those living in this country, my ancestors were not born here. A direct descendant on my paternal side immigrated here in 1789 from England. However, I am not an English-American or even a European-American. It bothers me to see people described (by self or others) as Irish-American, African-American, Asian-American, or any other hyphenated American. Hyphens do nothing but separate us from what we truly are: Americans.


Like my father and his father before him; I speak English. In the not so distant past, every immigrant that came to this country learned to speak English. It was a point of pride for them to master one of the most difficult of languages. Since this was (and is marginally still) an English speaking country it was expected and usually accomplished relatively quickly. Expectation and hard work made it so. To immigrate to this country was, and is, a desire that burns brightly in the hearts of people worldwide. However, it seems now that it is expected by some that we should welcome their "diversity" in language and culture at the expense of our own. Merriam-Webster defines diversity as:


1: the condition of being diverse : variety ; especially : the inclusion of diverse people (as people of different races or cultures) in a group or organization.


Inclusion does not mean domination or extinction. One could make the argument that diversity by its very definition requires the original to remain as a part of the whole.


As I said above, my ancestors immigrated here. They came by accepted means and according to the laws of the land. It makes me very angry when I see the illegal aliens in this country called an "immigration" problem. I have said before - calling the illegal alien issue an immigration problem is like calling bank robbery a withdrawal problem. We have a very serious and growing problem in this country of providing and maintaining social services for our citizens. When these services are offered to and overwhelmed by illegals, it makes the problem that much greater. We must address the problem of illegals in our country. It is one of the defined constitutional responsibilities of our government to secure our borders. The government has failed at that responsibility. Amnesty is not the answer when solving a bank theft spree. Nor is it the answer to our illegal alien problem. People must be required to follow the laws of the land when it comes to becoming a citizen. We also must stop now in providing social services and any medical care beyond that which is needed to save a life to illegals.



The United States of America has a great heritage in its two hundred and thirty plus year history of offering freedom, liberty, protection, defense, and support of all kinds to the people of the world. A large portion of the world owes any freedoms and liberties it has to the armed forces and the diplomatic minions of the U.S.A. Americans have helped to free and rebuild Europe twice. We have helped free those behind the Iron Curtain. Most recently we have brought the light of freedom to the Middle East. American might has not been used for building an empire. We freed these countries and turned them back over to the indigenous people, while providing the funds necessary for rebuilding. It sickens me to see and hear cries of "Imperialism" from detractors of the U.S. That claim is ridiculous when history is reviewed. The U.S. has won in battle or by diplomacy; Japan, Germany, Italy, France, the Philippines, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Grenada, Panama, and more. Did we add them to our country? No, they were all returned to their people who in some cases still decided the U.S.A. was the evil empire.


The United States of America is a beacon of freedom and light for all the world. We offer support, hope, and ideals of life that are envied by a large portion of the world.