Saturday, January 22, 2005

Saturday Ramblings

Here is a quiz to find out just how much you know about Presidential History.

Florida abduction - Here's a little background on the creep who kidnapped Adam Kirkirt last week. The boy has been found safe in Georgia, but authorities are still looking for Frederick Fretz. A photo can be seen here, but beware, he's not a pretty sight. Looks like he hit every limb falling from the ugly tree. Apparently, he cut his hair. I doubt it made him any prettier.

This wasn't a stranger abduction. Fretz was a roommate of Adam's father. They met in jail. Adam's father was in jail on a VOP for aggravated battery. Fretz was jailed for domestic battery and possession of marijuana. You meet the nicest people in jail, don't you? Fretz had taken Adam to and from school a number of times. Fretz was registered in both Pennsylvania and Arizona as a sex offender, but, gosh! I guess he just forgot to register in Florida when he moved from Arizona. Maybe he had rehabilitated and wanted a fresh start. (Uh-huh. I've got ocean front property in Kansas I can sell you if you believe that can happen.)

Fair Tax - I'm planning another post on the Fair Tax shortly. I've asked permission to post what looks to be a comprehensive 50 point plan of just what can be expected from the Fair Tax. I'd love to claim it as my own, but, I'm not that smart. So, I've asked permission. I think it will turn a few hearts and minds in our direction.

Weaponry - In the past, I have been very vocal about not wanting to have guns in the house. I felt that if someone broke into my house, the gun I had for my safety could be used against me. That's still true. While I was growing up, my parents didn't feel the need for guns in the house. At one time, my Dad worked night shift and Mom slept with a knife under her pillow. That was until she dreamed about knifing my Dad when he came home. The knife went back into the kitchen. Turned out, she really didn't need the knife. One night he came home, and kissed her while she was sleeping. She answered with a sock to the jaw that sent him across the room. Mom always could take care of herself. There's another story about Mom, but that's for another post.

Anyway, Dale is in Melbourne getting the weapons his dad gave him at Christmas. One rifle and handgun belonged to one grandfather, and the other rifle and shotgun belonged to the other grandfather, I believe. I think the other handgun was his dad's. I don't know about calibers, make and model and so one, but basically we'll have two rifles, two handguns, and a shotgun. I hear the best burglar deterent next to a barking dog is the burglar hearing the chambering of a shotgun.

His dad is getting married in July and Geri won't have weapons in the house. I'm still not thrilled about having weapons in the house, but on the other hand, I don't want anyone to tell me I can't. It's that pesky Constitutional thing, you know?

Entreprenuer - That's me. Or maybe I'm just getting rid of stuff. Anyway, I've put a couple of books up for auction on eBay. I sold one, but relisted three that didn't sell. I would like to make some money at this, but the goal is just to get stuff out of the house. If I can just cover the expense of the listing fees and shipping, I'll be happy. I didn't make any money on the first sale. The listing fee and shipping were a bit more than the sale. But, it's all good. I learned a lesson. Don't suggest having a yard sale to get rid of stuff. Dale and I did an outdoor flea market type place a couple of years ago and made a bit over $200. That was nice. But, with his medical problems, it's difficult and I just can't do it myself.

Don't suggest a yard sale, I did that once and I doubt if I'd do it again. I had one guy say, "Well, I sell at the flea market. How do you expect me to make money there if you won't sell this to me at my price?" My answer? "I really don't care if you make money or not. It's worth this much to me and if you don't want to pay it, someone else will. You want me to just give it to you and, like you, I want to make some money today." The very next person did. He also complained that I gave someone a deal. I told him that he was correct, I did give her a deal, but she had also just bought $50 worth of other stuff and I wanted to thank her. I also told him that if he bought anything, I might give him a deal on something too. And also that it wasn't going to break me if he didn't buy. Shortly after, he left without buying anything. He thought I would just give it to him to get rid of clutter and stuff. Nope. Not him. He wasn't looking to buy. He was looking for something for nothing. I made deals with lots of people that day, but I refused to deal with him. I'm not a capitalist for nothing, you know.

Friday, January 21, 2005

A Million Thanks

Shauna Fleming, a 15-year-old California high school student, decided that she wanted to have a way for Americans to show our appreciation to our troops for what they have done for us. They have send over 1,000,000 (yes, that's one million!) messages of thanks.

If you are wondering what you can do now that the holidays are over, A Million Thanks is collecting letters, cards, and emails, to send to the troops for Valentine's Day.

Even if you don't want to send thanks through Shauna's site, go and visit. There are examples of lots of ways to show appreciation. It's a great site. And, there will be a link on the sidebar.

I saw Shauna tonight on On The Record with Greta Van Stustern on Fox. Shauna was talking about how this site came into existence and about meeting the President. She's a very attractive, personable young lady with a very big heart, a pure soul, and a wonderful attitude about life. I can see nothing but good for her.

Good work Shauna!

Wednesday, January 19, 2005


Amber Alert Issued for 11 Year Old Florida Boy
Posted Wednesday January 19 6:25 AM CT

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Marion County Sheriff's office issued the Amber Alert early Wednesday after the boy was apparently abducted on Tuesday in Dunnellon which is about 75 miles northwest of Orlando.

Adam Kirkirt, 11 yrs., white male, 5', 100 lbs with brown hair and brown eyes and is believed to be in danger

Police are looking for Frederick Fretz Jr.,42 yrs., white male, 5; 11" with brown hair. Fretz is a known sex offender in Pennsylvania and Arizona.

The suspect vehicle is a white 1993 Chevy Lumina with FL temporary tag number K930950 taped on the left side of the back window.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Marion County Sheriff's Office at 352-732-9111 or dial 911.

Photos of Adam and Fretz can be seen here.

UPDATE: The Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Marion County Sheriff's office canceled the Amber Alert after the boy was recovered safe in Bartow County Georgia on Friday afternoon. The suspect is still at large at this time.
Inauguration Day

Am I the only person who would like to see both Inauguration Day and Election Day made into national holidays? I would like to have tomorrow off to watch the inauguration, but I have to work. Because of all that's going on, it's almost mandatory this year. I'll plan better in four years and put in for the day months in advance.

I'm not advocating for Inauguration Day to be a national holiday just because I want to see Bush sworn in for a second term, although, as a certain Domestic Diva would say, it's a good thing. I've felt this way about Inauguration Day for many years. I love the pomp and ceremony and would like to be able to see it from start to finish. I don't really care who's being sworn in, Democrat or Republican, I love it because it's the culmination of the whole democratic process. The inauguration is once every four years. I don't think it would hurt to make it a National Holiday.

The entire world will be watching. I admit, some will be watching to see if there will be any terrorist attacks, either home-grown or from another part of the world. Others will be watching to see if anyone does turn their backs as the Presidential motorcade passes. I think it's silly, but it's their right to express their opinion. Part of that pesky First Amendment thing. It's also their right to do silly things that won't make a bit of difference, such as the Not One Damn Dime Day thing.

If I had the day off, I'd make it an open-house party for any of my friends who wished to visit, whether they agree with the election results or not. Sort of a 4th of July type thing, except we may have to do it inside because it's a bit chilly here. Not like most of the rest of the country, but still cold for Florida. The RNC was trying to get people to have inaugural parties. I think it would be fun.

As for Election Day, I would think more people would vote, but maybe not. I'd still like to have the day off. It might be harder to make a case for Election Day because it's every year, and with primaries, several times a year. After I retire in a few years, I plan to become a poll worker. I could now, but because I work for an elected official, I'd have to clear it though my Professional Standards office. I don't think it would be a problem, but, I think I'll just wait until retirement and then there won't be any question.

Actually, I think I'll take the day after Election Day off next time around. That way I can stay up as late as I need to watch the counts come in and not have to worry about my performance, or lack thereof, at work the next day.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Speaking of the Blue Bracelets

Here is a site to purchase Count Me Red bracelets if you want to show your support for the president. One package of 10 for $20.00

Anyone come out with lapel ribbon pins yet?

And I want one of these! Sort of off-topic, but I want one!

America Supports You has downloadable art that you can put on T-shirts or ballcaps or whatever to show your support of our troops.
A Blast from the Past

Those of you old enough to remember the Vietnam War will remember the silver bracelets we wore to represent the missing in action and prisoners of war.

Well, they're back. Hero is offering to help memorialize these brave men and women who have given their lives in the War on Terror. When you purchase a bracelet, you will help raise money to support their families. Every bracelet purchased will allow a minimum of $2 to be donated to the Fallen Heroes Fund, a non-profit, non-political fund instituted to provide aid to these families. The bracelets are $8.50 each.

Go. Buy one. Or more. Now.
My Final (Maybe) Thoughts on Rathergate

I was watching The Beltway Boys on Fox last evening when a thought struck me. Something someone said made me think that possibly Dan Rather has not seen the last of his "punishment" from CBS.

You know that there are four people who lost their jobs at CBS because of the Killian memo fiasco. The panelists were discussing that there were others, specifically named were Rather and Andrew Heyward, who should bear more responsibility than they have.

Someone on the panel said that Dan Rather will be stepping down from his anchor spot earlier than his announced retirement date of March, but will still be reporting on the Wednesday night version of 60 Minutes - if it's still on the air. That got me thinking.

Rather steps down and is replaced by - whomever (has it been announced?). Sometime between leaving the anchor desk and beginning his new gig at 60 Minutes II, or whatever it's called, CBS announces its cancellation. Rather can't go back to the anchor desk, and he can't go to his "new job" because it doesn't exist anymore. Oh, they may throw him some bones and let him do some 60 Minutes reports on Sunday, or investigative reports of some sort, or even let him report from Iraq or whatever the new hotspot is. But they will be few and far between air times. CBS has effectively solved it's Rather problem.

I can't tell you how many times I've seen similiar things happen in my job. A person messes up and because it's not a fireable offense, or the person is close to retirement or has friends who are willing to go to bat for him (or her as the case may be, but usually he), they are transferred to another position. Now, that position may be "created" for just this person, or they are placed in a position where they are "out of sight, out of mind" and can't really get into trouble. The transfer isn't for punishment, but everyone knows that person did something they shouldn't have and usually it gets out what happened. When other employees hear that so-an-so has been transferred, the first question is, "what did they do?" Eventually, everyone knows, but until then, it's fodder for the gossip mill.

We recently had a sergeant transferred to our unit to work from eight at night to eight in the morning as a roving sergeant between the three juvenile programs. Now, the youths are locked down at nine, so there's not much going on, especially from midnight to five in the morning. On the surface, the position is necessary, because the sergeants in charge of the programs are not on the grounds and having a sergeant on duty is good. The staff can call on them when questions arise or they need something, or when an actual problem occurs.

However, we knew in this particular sergeant had been caught campaigning for the opposition in the recent election. This is something that all employees of an elected official have to be concerned about. There is nothing that says you can't campaign for the other candidate, but you need to be careful that you do it very quietly and discreetly. You do sow what you reap. This sergeant wasn't as careful as he should have been and was found out. He was transferred from a Monday through Friday seven-thirty to four office job to a twelve hour night shift job where he has no office, works one weekend and has the next off. Not too bad if you're single, but can be tough on families when you're working night shift. Everyone knew he was being punished, but he couldn't protest it because it was a "necessary position" he was transferred to and we all know that we can be transferred at any time for nearly any reason. He did have options. He could have retired, he could have gone up the chain and pled his case, or could have taken it and waited it out under the "this too shall pass" concept. That's what he did. He did his penance and was transferred after just a few weeks when it was determined that he was more urgently needed elsewhere. All is forgiven (but not entirely forgotten). He can forget about ever being promoted. He'll be "just another body" on the personnel rolls. And he's at an age where he probably wouldn't have been promoted anyway, unless it was as a reward for a long, faithful, and loyal career. When you've campaigned for the other candidate faithful and loyal don't count any more. As a sergeant, he had probably reached the top of his career anyway. Most sergeants retire as sergeants. There are only so many lieutenant positions available.

I predict that this will happen to Dan: he'll step down from the anchor desk; 60 Minutes II, which apparently isn't doing well in the rating anyway, will be cancelled; and Dan will be put into a position of being just another body at CBS. He may be allowed to report on events and investigate stories, but will never regain the luster of his previous life at CBS.

His punishment will be to be "just another body" and a reminder to the rest of the staff that they too, can fall from grace.
Jeb's Diary

Jeb Bush, brother of President George Bush, and governor of our own great state of Florida, was asked to visit the Indian Ocean to assess the damage done by the Tsunami on December 26th. Jeb was asked because of the experience he gained this past summer in Florida after four hurricanes struck our state within weeks of each other.

While he was there, Jeb kept a diary of what he saw and who he met. Remember the Norwegian who was whining that the wealthier nations weren't giving enough? Jeb saw him. Here's what he wrote on January 5th:

Tonight, I saw the Norwegian guy who heads the disaster operation at the UN. He was speaking as though his agency was in charge of the Banda Ache operation. In fact, we saw no one from the United Nations on the ground.

No one from the UN on the ground? This was 11 days after the Tsunami. Where were they?

Given the magnitude of the need, the relief assets on the ground are not nearly enough. There is little organization either.

I won't focus on the death and destruction Jeb wrote about. We know about it and you can read it here. I will highlight what was said about US relief efforts.

Foreign Minister ...Surakiart and subsequently, Prime Minister Thaksin were very appreciative of the US support and said so publicly.

Foreign Minister Surakiart is running to be the next Secretary General of the United Nations. This could be a good thing for the US.

Foreign Minister Wirajuda of Indonesia ...was sincerely thankful for the support the US has given to Indonesia.

Our last meeting was with President Yudhoyono (Republic of Indonesia) at his Presidential Palace. He was grateful for our country’s support and expressed it publicly in front of the press gaggle. The guy was just elected President in October and now has to shift his focus on this natural disaster.

Just elected to office and now has to focus on a disaster. Sound familiar?

Our country is doing the right thing by aggressively lending a hand to the countries of South Asia. It is the right thing to do morally and is part of tradition of generosity which has defined our country. It is the right thing to do politically since the tsunami has created an opportunity particularly in Indonesia, the largest Muslim country in the world, that we are not hostile to them or their religion.

International relief is very different than disaster relief and recovery in the United States. The lack of a chain of command, the lack of clear lines of responsibility and the huge logistical challenges to provide assistance make it much harder to help. It is not like the county/state/federal relationship which while not perfect, functions faster and more effectively.
First Amendment Rights

I got to thinking after writing the post about the lawyer and the two guys arrested on disorderly conduct charges. Keep reading, you'll come to it right after this post. Anyway, I was thinking about how the First Amendment works. I hate hearing someone say their First Amendment Rights were violated. They usually don't know what they are talking about. Here is what the First Amendment says:

Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

That's it. The full test of the First Amdendment. The two men, Harvey Kash and Carl Lanzisera, were peaceably assembled, as apparently were the rest of the people in line. They made statement to each other, albeit within hearing of others, including the unnamed lawyer. And they will have the right to petition to have the charges dismissed when they appear in court. Apparently, this time someone who claims violation of their First Amendment rights is correct.

Now, by telling their lawyer jokes, whether they realized it or not, and I am sure they did, they were baiting others in the crowd. They wanted someone to react to what they were saying. And they got a reaction, perhaps more than they anticipated. This actually plays into their hands. They received publicity for their group and cause (read the next post) when they were arrested. They will receive more publicity when they appear in court. And they will be cited in law cases for years to come no matter how their case plays out.

I don't believe in confrontational tactics as a general thing. Confrontational tactics could lead to my person being violated in the form of a punch in the nose or worse, my ego. I don't like pain, either physical or to my ego. I personally believe that working within the system to make changes is the best way, but it is not the only way. There are times when confrontation is needed and necessary, and sometimes the only answer.

Making jokes about lawyers can have an unwanted side effect. Mr Kash stated he is due in court to answer a drunken driving charge from 2003. Unless he attempts to defend himself in court he will need a lawyer. And you know what they say about defending yourself in court.

Something about having a fool for a client.
How Can You Tell When a Lawyer is Lying?

Sorry, I can't finish this joke. At least not if I live in Hempstead NY. Seems a couple of guys were standing on the steps of the country courthouse waiting to go in and one started the joke. After they both said in unison "his lips are moving" a man up the line a bit, who happened to be a lawyer, told them to pipe down.

I'm guessing he is a honest, capable man who does the best he can for his clients in an ethical manner. No, I'm not joking, there are lawyers out there who happen to believe in ethics. There are lawyers you would admit to having as a friend. And I happen to know that lawyers have much thicker skins than this man showed. I'm guessing that he is tired of being tarred with the same brush as those other less-than-ethical colleagues who give lawyers a bad name. Maybe he had a bad night. Maybe he had a fight with his wife. Maybe his secretary quit. And now he has heard that old, tired joke that he has tolerated for years and it was the last straw. Whatever. He had had enough and told the two to pipe down.

When they didn't he reported them to courthouse personnel and they were arrested for disorderly conduct, a misdemeanors. Well, Harvey Kash and Carl Lanzisera, the men who were arrested just happen to be the founders of a group called Americans for Legal Reform which monitors the courts. They use confrontational tactics to push for greater access for the public. The pair said that for years they have stood outside courthouses on Long Island and mocked lawyers. "They just can't take it," Kash said of lawyers in general. "This violates our First Amendment rights."

Dan Bagnuola, a spokesman for the Nassau County courts, said the men were "being abusive and they were causing a disturbance." He said he did not have the name of the lawyer who complained.

I have to admit that I believe this does violate their First Amendment rights. I have a feeling that they have made obnoxious pests of themselves for years and the courthouse personnel were just looking for a reason to show them the way to the slammer. But, I also think that the charge will be dismissed.

I wonder if they will hire lawyers to represent them in court. I wonder if they will find a lawyer who will represent them in court.