Two Sides Of The Same Coin.

In our post from February 10, 2012 entitled “Can’t Stand The Heat – A Cautionary Tale,” we used the example of a local city council as an example of not trusting people just because they say they believe in something.

In the case we examined, a newly elected member of the City Council who had run as a member of the Tea Party and espoused Tea Party ideals of smaller government, more efficient government and the Rights of the people had suddenly joined with two others members of the City Council to silence political speech that was critical of City Council members and their actions.

After the radio show on Saturday, our friend Steve Bussey received an email from someone asking if his blog or the show had covered the Satellite Beach City Council meeting. As Steve was out covering anther political event and we had gone to the council meeting, he directed the emailer to this site. We have to admit that we got more hits than normal and the “Cautionary Tale” post was one of the most read posts for that day. (We also got a comment from someone and we responded to that comment as well.)

To be clear, our impression was that some or maybe even a majority of the charges leveled at the new members of the City Council were distortions of the truth. However, in the world of politics, people will lie, distort and make all sorts of allegations. While we find such actions wrong and reprehensible, at the same time the overt actions and threats of at least two members of the City Council and the Mayor to deprive citizens of their rights to free speech on political issues to be even more egregious.

Two wrongs don’t make a right and in this case, one action is clearly the greater wrong.

It was therefore interesting when over the past few days two letters to the editor of the Florida Today appeared in the newspaper.

The first appeared on Monday, February 13, 2012, and was written by City Councilman Scott Rhodes:

Stupid Letter To The Editor – Florida Today Edition.

Today’s letter comes to us from Vicki Impoco of Satellite Beach, Florida. Impoco used to write on a blog sponsored by the Florida Today where she showed her willingness to support anything from President Obama and the left. It is one thing to support something based on ideology. It is another thing to support something based on the type of ignorance Impoco demonstrates in her letter to the editor on February 7, 2012.

The letter gains the title from the editors of the Florida Today newspaper of:

Letter: Obamacare birth-control mandate draws support

We don’t see one letter from someone such as Impoco as “drawing support,” but that is a matter of interpretation.

The letter reads:

Kathleen Parker, in her Sunday column “Freedom of conscience,” states “Catholic institutions are under siege by the federal government vis-a-vis the Affordable Care Act, which requires nearly all em­ployers to provide health insur­ance that covers contraception.”

Religious employers whose “primary purpose is the inculcation of religious values and who primarily employ and serve those who share their religious tenets” are exempt from the new mandates.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and other anti-contraceptive groups want the exemption to include all religiously affiliated universities, hospitals and other nonprofits. This exception expansion would block birth-control coverage for millions of women and families.

Parker states, “This politi­cally inept and morally fungible step reveals utter disregard for religious liberty.”

I disagree.

The separation of church and state is clearly enshrined in the U.S. Constitution. To demand the state follow the dictates of some religious organizations while they receive federal tax dollars and benefit from a tax-exempt status is equivalent to the promotion of a state religion that tramples on the religious and civil liberties of us all.

Where to begin?

Quick Hits

Another lovely day and another “Quick Hits” post (replete with the obligatory Rule 5 girl.) “Quick Hits” are where we take a look at items of interest that are comment worthy, but don’t have enough “meat” to be a full fledged post.

Our first stop is in Tampa, Florida:

A man convicted of three counts of manslaughter while driving under the influence is now suing the estates and families of the people he killed.

David Belniak had drugs in his system and never braked when he slammed into the back of a family’s car stopped at a red light on Christmas Day 2007. Three people died.

This seems to be a bad joke, but it isn’t.

The suit asks for the victims’ relatives to pay Belniak, 38, for his “pain and suffering … mental anguish … loss of capacity for the enjoyment of life” and the medical bills he got as a result of a crash he pleaded guilty to causing.

Authorities said Belniak was driving between 75 and 85 mph when his pickup smashed into the back of McWilliams’ Chevrolet Tahoe. The SUV crumpled. Gerard Bassi died at the scene. Denise Bassi died in surgery that day. Linda McWilliams was taken off life support a week later.

Authorities said Belniak had alcohol, Xanax and evidence of cocaine in his system.

This is a two-fer for us. First, we can’t wait for members of the Ron Paul Collective who say anything they do to themselves is fine and all drugs should be legal to defend Belniak’s actions.

Quick Hits – A Christmas Edition

Once again we have some items of interest and for this holiday season, a Christmas Rule Five lady.

It has been a tough year for the iconic “Toys for Tots” program. The Marine administered program provides toys for underprivileged children through monetary donations and donation of toys throughout the country and has been a model of accountability and trust during its 64 year history so it is sad to see some of the stories coming out of the organization.

In Brevard County, Florida, a Toys for Tots area coordinator and volunteer of 16 years recently stepped down from the organization after admitting he had lied about his military service record and an investigation into the alleged rape of a 16 year old girl.

In Chicago, the Toys for Tots program was rocked by what appears to have been an embezzlement this past spring of funds marked for the purchase of toys this holiday season.

These types of setbacks are difficult to comprehend much less for the charity to deal with. After all, what kind of lowlife steals money intended for toys?

While it is easy to focus on the slimeballs, we should also applaud the people who have helped with the issues. In Florida, the Marines told the volunteer he was essentially no longer welcome in the program and thereby demanded accountability for the actions of a volunteer. The Marines did not wait for the result of the criminal investigation. In their eyes, lying about military service was enough to demand he walk away.

In Chicago, an anonymous donor stepped in and gave $25,000 to the charity to make up for the embezzled funds.

A generous donor stepped forward today, saving Christmas for a local charity after an alleged theft left organizers unable to buy toys for thousands of needy Chicago-area kids.

A man came in with a $25,000 check to cover the missing amount, said Toys for Tots Chicagoland treasurer Janet Malpede.

The donor’s only stipulation? That he remains anonymous and that the gift be in memory of Sid Luckman, the Chicago Bears quarterback during the 1940s who led the team to four championships.

After news became public this week, the phone has been ringing constantly, Malpede said. Beyond the $25,000, others have made generous offers, including a donor who gave $1,000 in toys through Target, Malpede said.


School “Zero Tolerance” Idiocy. Student Suspended for a Hug.

We have seen and heard stories of “zero tolerance” in schools. In theory, “zero tolerance” demands schools treat all children the same, lowering the chances of lawsuits by parents.

In practice, “zero tolerance” takes away the ability of school officials to look at the child and the circumstances surrounding the infraction. The results are often universally decried draconian punishments for kids.

For example, an eight year old boy was expelled for a year for having a toy gun in his backpack. Another eight year old was disciplined because a hat he made as part of an assignment had plastic “army men” glued to it. The plastic figures, according to the school, were inappropriate because the school does not allow guns and weapons onto school property.

A seventeen year old senior in North Carolina was suspended for the rest of the school year when she accidentally took her father’s lunch box to school. The father’s lunch box, which was identical to the girl’s contained a paring knife for cutting an apple. For her mistake, the honor student who had never been in trouble was charged with possession of a weapon on school property and barred from stepping foot on the school campus.

Texas schools have taken to issuing tickets to kids as young as the age of six:

“Disrupting class, using profanity, misbehaving on a school bus, student fights, and truancy once meant a trip to the principal’s office. Today, such misbehavior results in a Class C misdemeanor ticket and a trip to court for thousands of Texas students and their families each year,” says the Appleseed Texas report (PDF). It examined data from 22 of the state’s largest school districts and eight municipal courts.

Over six years, school police issued 1,000 tickets to elementary school children in 10 school districts.

A third grade student in Louisiana was suspended for drawing a picture of a soldier holding a canteen and a knife.

The principal of Lenwill Elementary School in West Monroe, La., is quoted as saying that the school “can’t tolerate anything that has to do with guns or knives.” According to press reports, school officials stand by their decision to punish the child for “a violent arrangement.”

The problem is not only the stupidity of “no tolerance” policies, but more and more studies seem to indicate “zero tolerance” policies have no affect or an adverse affect on kids.

Zero tolerance policy in schools — which can mandate automatic punishment for weapons, drugs, profanity and various forms of disruptive behavior — is failing to make students feel safe, contends a new study by two Michigan State University researchers.

The policy, established in the mid-1990s to address gun violence in schools, has become plagued by inconsistent enforcement and inadequate security, according to the study, which appears in the May issue of the journal Urban Education.

As a result, the very students zero tolerance was designed to protect overwhelmingly say the policy is ineffective, said Laura McNeal, assistant professor of teacher education and lead researcher on the project.

“Zero tolerance policy represents what happens when there is a disconnect between law on the books and law in action,” said McNeal, who has a law degree. “We need to reform existing policies such as zero tolerance to ensure every child receives a high-quality education in a safe and supportive learning environment.”

Which brings us to our latest “zero tolerance” stupidity.

Quick Hits

Back with another round of “Quick Hits – stories that don’t warrant a full post, but of are interest. And of course because it is an internet law or rule, we have posted a picture of a “Quick Hitting lady.”

This past weeks stunning announcement by CERN scientists saying they had witnessed neutrino particles traveling faster than the speed of light slightly opens the door for the very real prospect of time travel.

Citizens of Kissimmee, Florida no longer have any doubts whether time travel is possible. They are receiving parking tickets that are dated a week in advance. That alone would be strange enough. However the tickets are also being written for streets where there are no parking restrictions. Also included are tickets for parking on lots the city does not control.

Obviously either the ticket writing policeman is confused, or they have traveled back from a future date where the city does have parking restrictions and controls lots it currently does not have jurisdiction over.

Police don’t know how many unwarranted tickets have been issued, but the department said to bring any suspicious tickets to the police station. The department said it had already thrown out nearly a dozen tickets, as of Friday.

Yep. Go ahead and waste your time for the police department’s screw up.

That’ll make everything a-okay.

And as for those signs that warn about no parking?

Quick Hits

We are back again with another “Quick Hits” post where we comment on information that does not support a full post. We also get to include a “Rule 5” graphic, which supposedly helps the number of hits we get.

So off we go……

A few weeks ago we reported a class action suit had been filed on behalf of drivers who had been issued citations for flashing their vehicle’s lights to warn other on coming drivers to the presence of a speed trap ahead.

Police in Florida had been citing drivers for flashing their lights under a dubious interpretation of the Florida statutes. Several courts had already dismissed the citations but the Florida Highway Patrol was continuing to issue the tickets.

The FHP has now announced they will cease writing tickets for the alleged infraction while the court case goes forward.

Because of the ongoing litigation,” [Florida Highway Patrol spokesman Capt. Mark Welch] said, “we have directed officers to suspend enforcement actions for that type of driving behavior until the case has been resolved by the courts.”

You are now free to flash in Florida.

If you listen closely you can hear the weeping and gnashing of teeth from anti-smoking advocates who claimed smoking bans in public places would reduce the rates of heart attacks.

Two scientific studies are indicating other wise.

UPDATE! Thugs Who Attacked Official Arrested and Charged

A few days ago we reported on a referee that was tackled, punched and kicked during a youth football game for 13 – 14 year olds in Sarasota, Florida.

The fight started when 14 year veteran official Jayme Ream called an unsportsmanlike penalty on a member of North Port Husky’s who were leading the Sarasota Gators 30 – 6 with a minute and a half left in the first half of the game. An assistant coach for the Gators apparently thought the call was against the Gators, and yelled something at Ream. Gators’ assistant coach Dexter Austin continued to yell at Ream, despite rules that forbid assistant coaches from addressing the officials. Ream threw a flag for unsportsmanlike conduct on Dexter Austin who then threw a water bottle at Ream. Ream called another unsportsmanlike penalty which at the very least would have resulted in Dexter Austin’s ejection from the game.

After that, as they say, “it was on.” In the video shot from the stands, coaches can be seen rushing Ream and while Ream is walking away, a player from the Gators tackles Ream. In the melee that follows, Ream and another official are physically assaulted by the player and the coaches.

During the fight Ream, 41, suffered a broken shoulder. On Friday, in a prepared statement, he said in part:

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