How Important is Your Vote?

I would like, one day, to see a voter tally saying that %100 of the eligible voters did so…  or at least something like %75, or better.  In 2010 we had a figure of %41 who voted in the Statewide elections.

That was rather depressing..

With the economy still in the dumps many local governments are trying to save money, to offset reduced revenue, and so Sarasota Country Supervisor of Election, Kathy Dent, is planning to shut down some of the polling places.  She says this will save the county something like $100,000 per election. The ACLU and NAACP have said that this will disenfranchise some voters who will now have to travel a greater distance to vote, maybe up to 2 miles?

The legislature has passed new requirements for voting…  cutting down on the number of early voting days, picture IDs, and a requirement that those groups who do voter registrations, volunteer groups who take an interest in getting the voter to do just that, would have a shorter window to turn in the names they gather.

Mrs. Dent suggested that those who would have to travel that 2 miles, and don’t have a car, might want to use a mail-in vote, unless of course that walk to the mailbox is too far.  There used to be a time when the only people who used the mail-in ballots were shut ins, or people who would not be in the area at the time of the vote, such as people on vacation, military stationed out of state, or people who had real reasons for not being able to go to the polls.

So, I will ask again, “how important is your vote”?

Its not like you have to dodge bullets, like they do in some countries.  It all depends on how “IMPORTANT” your vote is, and looking at the 2010 elections I would think that %59 of the people thought that their vote was just too inconvenient.


In the course of our lives

we will face many challenges that must be overcome.  We must decide what that challenge is, and make a decision as to how to overcome said challenge.  Often how you overcome the challenge is as important as the act of overcoming it.  For the most part these challenges are rather simple, such as getting across a street.  A small neighborhood street would have fewer obstacles, cars, while major streets, with multiple lane, will have more obstacles.  The basic idea is the same: get from one side to the other.  It is the complexities that change.  The multi-lane road, with medium, often breaks down into two parts with the first objective being the medium, and the last objective being the other side.

Do you just cross the road, like the chicken, or do you go down to the light?  Each time you cross one of these road you make a decision.  Go, or not go.  Go to the light, or cross here?  These are not choices that we really spend much time thinking about, as we do them so often that they are routine.    There is a book about Law Enforcement called, “Deadly Routine”, in it the author explains that if we do something, in this case it was traffic stops, we often get to the point that we do not pay them as much attention as we should.  We forget that the person in that car can kill us.  When I was a cop, security, in the Air Force at one base we would watch some of the Law Enforcement Specialist get out of their patrol vehicle, after stopping a car, and made the initial approach with their pen in one hand and ticket book in the other.  That was never a problem, while I was there, but all it would take would be one driver, or passenger, to pull out a weapon and the officer, both hands full of now useless crap, could be dead in seconds.

What does that have to do with the guy crossing the street?  Everything.  Think of the times you have read of a pedestrian who just wandered into the path of a vehicle and got flattened.  For him crossing the road was the “Deadly Routine”.  We must remember that every time we do something like this was must approach it as if it is the deadly event that it is.  The cop who makes a mistake can get himself, or others, killed, and so he must always be alert to what is going on around him.

Lets consider that cop for a few seconds.  His challenge is to get from wherever he is to the location of his call.  Lets say this challenge is getting to an “alarm activation”.  This means that there may, or may not, be an intruder.  Most cop shows, on TV or Movies, will show the cop going up the driveway with the lights and sirens active.  It does not show him getting there, or the many close calls he might have had due to drivers who seem to think “he can go around me”.  In my Security Police Tech school we were told that our use of the emergency lights was a  “request of right of way” not a “demand of right of way”..  We were told that “while how quickly you get to an incident is important, it is NOT important how fast you “didn’t get there“.  Now lets look at the emergency equipment.  I am sure, if only from watching them on the screen, and hopefully not your rear view mirror, that you are familiar with the lights and sirens.  When do you use them?  Most department will dispatch the patrol with a code 1,2, or 3, that tells him if the what level the urgency is.  Then, once he gets nearby when does he turn off the emergency equipment?  Cops show will often have them drive up on the scene with lights and sirens going full blast.  If you don’t care if the suspect know you are there this is fine but, if you don’t want them to escape, or take hostages, then you might consider turning off the siren before you get within hearing distance, and the lights, both the visibars and headlights, when you get within sight of the destination.  Most time the officer will complete the approach without any lights and park a little ways down from where he is going.  This give him a better chance of get close up without being seen.

Besides the criminal neighbors often stroll out to watch the pretty lights, and it is better to have fewer people out if there are in fact shots fired.

So, where am I going with this?

As I have said life is full of challenges and obstacles, and often it is how you overcome these obstacles that is important.  Which decisions you make can affect the rest of your life.

Some of these challenges have to do with right and wrong.

Some will use the teaching of their faith to help guide them to the right decision, others will just jump in and hope for the best, while others will just forge ahead and have no idea where they are going.

For the main part I just want you to think about the decision that you make during the day, and to consider them each time like it is the first time you have ever made that choice.  I want you to be able to read my stuff, even if you don’t agree.  I would like to think I got someone to avoid the “Deadly Routine”.

P.S. When out in public : think like a paranoid.

Terrorist Security Agency strikes again, and again.

I have been reading news accounts of the TSA brain trust.  In WICHITA, Kan. 4 year old female, Isabella, had just gone through the checkpoint with her mother,Michelle Brademeyer of Montana, when she ran back to hug her grandmother, Lori Croft.

TSA agents attempted to do a pat down of the 4 year old, when she ran off.  TSA agents supposedly called the young 4 year old an “uncooperative suspect”, and said they would have to shutdown the entire terminal due to the “threat” the 4 year old girl represented.

No doubt they thought this little 4 year old girl would outwit them, in the fashion of a miniJason Bourne, and turn up on the plane by herself.

Then again, maybe this experience will just reinforce the class she had recently taken about “strangers”.  Strange being the operative word.  Do the people at TSA not understand the idea that 4 year olds might not understand why a strange man would want to touch her?

In another incident, at JFK Airport, the mother of Dina Frank, who has Cerebral Palsy Says TSA Treated Daughter “Like Osama Bin Laden“.  Dina Frank a developmentally disabled 7 year old who walks with leg braces was subjected to a pat down search by TSA agent who, it seems, viewed her crutches and braces and instruments of destruction.

The started a pat down check on the 7 year old terrorist, who also got understandably upset because she did not understand why they were doing this.  Her father, Dr. Joshua Frank, began to video tape this situation, with his phone, and was cursed and screamed at by TSA agents, according to reports.  Once they were allowed past the checkpoint they went to their boarding gate to wait and he been there an hour after the original confrontation when they were told that a manager had decided that the first pat down had not been fully completed, which meant they would have to redo the pat down.  By the time the groups had gotten back to the first check point, did the new pat down, and returned to the gate, their plane had left.

There was another article I had read, though I can’t seem to find it, about another young lady, 7 to 9 years of age, who was also terrorized by  the TSA, and this is not even bringing up the stories about stolen property, taken from securely checked luggage, or drugs smuggle through the Air Ports by TSA personnel, or confederates.

This string of incompetence runs all the way from the Guards at the checkpoints to the Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Nepolitano who runs a department that can NOT security anything.

Remember her as the lady who stated that the bigest threat to the U.S. was from Returning Vets, who, having been trained to kill in defense of their country, might go postal at anytime.  Maybe that explains why they don’t arm the TSA Guards at the Gate..  Who knows when they might go postal, like when faced with a 7 year old terrorist disguised by leg braces and crutches….or the 3 year old Ninja who was able to escape the checkpoint by toddling off.

So, the next time you plan a trip: maybe the train is safer.

Official portrait of United States Secretary o...
Official portrait of United States Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano Español: Retrato oficial de Secretaria de Seguridad Interna de los Estados Unidos Janet Napolitano (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

To the family of Trayvon Martin,

Trayvon Martin Protest - Sanford
Trayvon Martin Protest - Sanford (Photo credit: werthmedia)

I did not know him,and, except for his death, I most likely would never have even heard of him.  Maybe, if he had been able to mature to adulthood, he might have been able to make his mark on the world but, unfortunately we will not have the chance to find that out as his premature death, at the hands of an overzealous moron, closed off a possible life path that could have lead anywhere.

I know there are people who see his death as a condemnation of the so called “Stand Your Ground Law” and wish to see the law repealed.  The problem with that theory, as far as what I have read about the case up to now, is this:  if the “Stand Your Ground” law had applied to this incident, it would have applied to Trayvon Martin who found himself being followed by an unidentified person.

Mr. Zimmerman might have had some kind of standing if he had been in either a vehicle marked as a Neighborhood Watch, or if he had been in some kind of uniform that stated he was a member of a neighborhood watch.  I have not, so far, seen any reports that put him in either of those, so he was just some guy on the street.

For Trayvon Martin we have a young man who walked suspiciously?  Being followed by some guy he did not know.  Accounts, from the Sanford PD, have Zimmerman getting injured in a scuffle, of some kind.  Did Zimmerman attempt to detain Martin and got knocked on his ass for his efforts, at which point he shot the young Martin?  Did Martin confront his pursuer, and wind up in the scuffle? I would think that, at the point Mr. Zimmerman started to follow Martin he was the aggressor, and the only one with the right to defend himself would be Trayvon Martin, who was unarmed.

I still do not see the merit of Zimmers argument that he was defending himself when it seems like HE initiated the contact.  If Zimmerman grabed Martin then he would be guilty of assault, and therefore would be the one at fault.

Once an investigation takes place, and the Grand Jury is probably the best way to go, we should know what the facts were, and would be able to make a better judgement.  In the meantime, if you want to talk about the so called vagueness of the law you have no further to look than at Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Beth Bloom.  Judge Bloom gave an opinion that Greyston Garcia, who had seen  Pedro Roteta  steal property from his truck,  was able to use the “Stand Your Ground” defense when he chased Roteta down and stabbed him in the BACK.  I agree that Garcia saw evidence of a crime, seeing his radio being lifted out of his vehicle, but, I have yet to see where the “reasonable threat” comes in, as me Roteta was running away from him.  If a sitting Judge, they are usually lawyers, can make a stupid call such as this, well, how do you expect the Sanford PD to do any better with just their Police training.

In the meantime the usual suspects are stirring up the crowd and trying to overturn a law that they just don’t understand.  In one article I found there were a bunch of quotes from Democrats from around the country, who seemed to think the law would result in open season on minorities.  The other quotes were from Republicans who expressed the idea that Americans have the right to defend themselves from ANY kind of threat.

As an Air Force Security Policeman I was taught that there were three actions a patrol officer should take 1st observe  2nd report and then 3rd respond.  If you got killed doing the 3rd then you were a wast if you had not done the 2nd.  As private security the 3rd would more properly be wait for the cops, and keep your suspect under observation.  I used to see private security people who were like Zimmerman, and I would tell them the same thing I am going to say here.  “If you want to play cop, and bust people, then you have to know more about the law than the cop who responds.  If he makes a mistake by arresting the wrong person he is protected by the legal presumption that he is doing his best.  You might just go to jail”.  Some of them understood what I was talking about, other still wanted to stop people, and question them.

In one neighborhood where I did mobile patrols there were some kids who worked for us who would follow a certain car around.  The reason was that in a well to do area where the homes, in the 90s, went for at least $150,000 they would see an old beat-up sedan, which they assumed did not belong there.  I could understand that but I also knew that the man in the car owned a construction company, and this was the car he drove to work sites so he did not have to worry about damage to his good cars.

It is nice to think that you are helping to keep an area safe but, you must use discretion, which did not seem to be a word that Mr. Zimmerman understood.

Trayvon Martin’s death is tragic, and useless.  I would hate to see it take away from our right to defend ourselves when faced with violence.   Resetting the law to a time before the passage of the “Stand Your Ground Law’ would require people, when faced with violence, to either submit, or run.  They would only be able to defend themselves if they were in a position when they could NOT retreat.  It would also give the attacker the advantage of knowing that, unless he left his victims no place to run to, they could not act against him, and that even if they did try to run away they would have to turn their backs to him, and he could just take what he wanted off their bodies.

There is an old saying “an armed society is a polite society”.

Related articles

Stand Your Ground? Yes or No.

The Florida State law, often called the “Stand Your Ground Law”  is one that has been needed for years.  Prior to the new law, if someone broke into your home that laws at the time stated that you must retreat, and that you could only defend yourself if you were backed into a place from which you could NOT retreat, such as a closet, or bathroom, that had no other exit.  Then, fearing for your life, you could defend yourself.

If someone attacked you, such as a fight that you did not start, you could defend yourself, though if they then broke off the attack and attempted to flee, you would be the aggressor if you continued to fight and you could be the one charged.

As I understand it the main change is that you do NOT have to retreat if attacked.  For example, if someone breaks into your home you no longer are required to flee them, and can “Stand Your Ground”.

The recent death of Trayvon Martin, in the City of Sanford, Fl., is putting the Stand Your Ground Law under public scrutiny, and raising question about the the law itself.

George Zimmerman admits to having shot Martin but claims he did it in self-defence.  The Sanford PD claims they did not arrest him at the scene because, at the time, circumstances seemed to agree with Zimmerman.

I would hate to be the person charged with making the determination of whether it was a justified act on the part of Zimmerman.  Sure he was supposed to be some kind of Captain, or whatever, with a Neighborhood Watch group, though reports say he was NOT on duty at the time of the shooting.

I have a number of questions:  what did Zimmerman think he was doing by chasing Martin?  Did Zimmerman ID himself as part of a neighborhood watch?  Did Martin confront a suspicious person, who was following hm for no apparent reason?  If Zimmerman was injured, Sanford PD says he had blood on his lip and the back of his head, which of the two started the scuffle.  As a neighborhood watch member he had the legal authority of the average citizen, the right to citizen’s arrest, though there did not appear to be an apparant offence to arrest for.  The would most likely have resulted, saying that he had detained the person, in his arrest for either “false arrest”, “unlawful detention”, or even impersonating a police officer, if he had given the impression that he acted in such a capacity.

I have never been in a neighborhood watch program but, I had worked for about 20 years in the Security field, both in the Air Force, where I got out as a Security Police SSgt.  Now Mr. Zimmerman might have had a concealed weapons permit but, that would not give him the legal standing to carry it as part of his neighborhood watch.  When I did private security, after 7 years in the Air Force, I worked for a number of private security companies.  Mostly with an unarmed security license, where state law said that even if I had a carry permit, or other authorization, that, unless I had an armed guard licence, I was still not allowed to carry the weapon.  Basicly that would mean that, say I was a Deputy Sheriff and wanted to do security work while off duty, I would have to have a Guard License and and Armed Guard License.  So why was he carrying?  Did the Law Enforcement Co-ordinator for the group know he carried?  If so why didn’t they expel him from the program.

From what I have seen of this story, so far, I would have to say that I do NOT think it was a justified shooting.  The “Stand Your Ground Law’ might protect him from an aggressor but, if it turns out he was doing something he had NO legal right to be doing, or if he was the aggressor, then he has no protection under the law, even this one.

To me the law is clear.  He has to have a reasonable belief that his life is in danger.  The keyword would be “reasonable belief”.  At this point I don’t see it.  What I do see is poor judgement on the part of a gung-ho wannabe cop, who charged in where he had NO training, or legal authority.

What we have here is a mess, and what we don’t need is the Rev. Al Sharpton stirring up the pot.  Sometimes the question is not “black or white” but “right or wrong”, and this is a question that must be answered by law and not because some publicity seeking Rev. Al Sharpton says so.