I’m sure some of you have wondered where I have been for over 2 months… Well summer is here and there has hardly been enough time to get the chores done, yet alone research and write a blog… Ok, write a blog. Anyone who has followed my blog in the three years it has been up knows I do very little if any research… (That is a joke of course.) I will be returning as soon as School starts again and I have a few minutes to breathe… I hope you all have enjoyed the blog so far and thank you all for supporting it… See you all soon!!!
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The debate has raged on for years; Should Pennsylvania Abolish the Death Penalty? Since it’s reinstatement in 1976 only 3 people have been executed. Keith Zettlemoyer was executed on May 2, 1995 for 1st Degree Murder, Leon Moser, Executed August 16, 1995 for 1st Degree Murder and Gary Heidnik on July 6, 1999. Heidnik was probably the most famous of the three. He kidnapped, tortured and murdered several women, some of whom he made eat the remains of those killed before them, in the basement of his home.
My opinion is simple; Either use the death penalty or get rid of it. To let not only the inmates but the victim’s families languish for years with no result is not reasonable by any standards. Now the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has created a task force to study the death penalty and make recommendations to our judicial system. Really? When they say that the death penalty costs the state more money than a life without parole sentence, I have to say I agree. To pay a bunch of pencil pushing panty-wastes an exorbitant salary to study this is ridiculous.
For an example let’s use the Jennifer Daugherty case from Greensburg, Pa. Six people have been charged with the torture-murder of the 30 year-old mentally challenged woman. 3 have been tried and convicted with two of them receiving the death penalty. This woman’s family has had to endure 3 trials so far, reliving all of the gruesome, graphic evidence 3 times over with still 3 more trials to go. What will the outcome be? Will these shit-bags, sorry, criminals be executed? You have a better chance of seeing Dale Earnhardt and Neil Bonnett race at Daytona again.
Now let’s add in the groups that have never lost someone to a violent crime. Like the ACLU or Amnesty International. They claim that execution is painful and inhumane. So I guess kidnapping, torturing and murdering a mentally challenged woman isn’t. Some site the Bible where it says; “Vengeance is mine sayeth the Lord…” Maybe, but it also says; “An eye for an eye…” Amnesty International says that Pennsylvania has 194 inmates on death row. The breakdown is as follows: 106 blacks, 68 whites, 18 Hispanics and 2 Asians. They further state that the death penalty is racially biased based on police procedures, adequacy of representation and other factors. They also say that African Americans get the death penalty more than whites who commit the same crime. Now see, here is where I get pissed over the whole damn debate. These groups use race as their basis for the outcome. When you use race, most people are afraid to tread there. Well my dear readers, I am not.
Instead of really relaying factual information, they skew it to fit their one-sided argument. While there are more black inmates on death row, how many come from socio-economically depressed areas? Philadelphia, to name only one, has its wealthy sides as well as its depressed neighborhoods, like most large urban areas. To that end, a lot of these people are forced to do things to make ends meet. Some are forced to commit robbery, sell drugs, prostitute and even be forced into the gang lifestyle. While Amnesty International is bemoaning racial profiling, did they factually state that the last 3 people put to death in Pennsylvania, Zettlemoyer, Moser and Heidnik, were all white? Um, I can answer that; No. It makes their racially bigoted argument look a little shaky. I guess because those 3 men were white, it was no big deal. Instead of relying on cold hard data, groups like Amnesty International, the ACLU and Decarcerate PA, can’t fund themselves if they stick to the whole truth. To me it seems like they just want to tilt at windmills, ANY windmill. Thank you Don Quixote.
Does housing an inmate on death row cost more? Yes it does. A 2011 story in The Allentown Morning Call stated that the Pa DOC spends approximately $10,000 more per inmate to house them on death row. Now add in the cost of trials and re-trials. Because the death penalty is an option these are capital cases costing the Commonwealth between 1 and 3 million per case. No add in suck-bags, sorry, inmates like Lesko and Travaglia, who between them have had upwards of 14 re-trials. Each time they get re-convicted and sentenced to death the fall under Pennsylvania’s Post Conviction Relief Act (PCRA), allowing them an automatic appeal. Now here is where I have the problem. They keep getting new trials based on the defense they received in their first trials back in 1982. Each time, both of these assholes, sorry, criminals are convicted and sentenced, they get a new trial. Someone needs to put on their big boy or girl gutchies and say; “No More.” It’s easy to Monday morning quarterback and say Pennsylvania is bleeding money, but no one wants to do anything about it.
I think it’s easy. Instead of paying a bunch of over-educated wieners an obscene amount of money to do a “Study”, use the money to carry out the executions. By allowing multiple appeals you are causing the State to spend more money on an open wound so to speak. Limit the amount of appeals. I mean really, how many times does a jury need convict someone of murder and sentence them to death before the courts actually believe them? Lesko and Travaglia are only part of what is wrong with our judicial system. Why do we keep granting re-trials and appeals based on old information? Like with Lesko and Travaglia, there is nothing new here. What do we hope to accomplish by this act of futility? Easy, Lesko and Travaglia and all of the others getting new trials every other day are basically thumbing their noses at the judicial system knowing they will never “Ride the Lightning”.
Now on the other side of the coin, if the Commonwealth decides to abolish the death penalty then let’s change some sentencing guidelines. I mean some of Pennsylvania’s mandatory sentencing practices now need revamping. But onto where I was heading a minute ago. Instead of being sentenced to death, change it to Life without the possibility of parole. One appeal, that’s it. Stop clogging up the courts with these ridiculous appeals that 99% of the time has the same outcome. Is it possible that new information could come to light exonerating the inmate? Possibly. Since 1973 140 people have been released following the proof of wrongful conviction in the United States. That is compared to 1,329 executed in that same period. So in 40 years only 140 have been freed Nation-wide? Sounds like a pretty good ratio to me, but I digress. The change in sentencing guidelines is probably the biggest thing that needs to happen. Comedian Ron White from Texas said; In Texas, if you kill someone, we’ll kill you back. If there are 2 or more credible witnesses who saw what you did, you go to the head of the line. Most states are trying to abolish the death penalty, Texas put in an express lane.” Texas is not afraid to use the death penalty. Since 2010 they have executed 45. Since 1974 they have executed 492.
Ok, now that I have rambled on for what seemed like an unbearable amount of time, the bottom line for me is very simple. If the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is going to keep the Death Penalty on the books then use it. If they are not going to use it, dump it. It’s not of any solace to a victim’s family to see someone “ceremoniously” sentenced to death to then never have the sentence carried out. Someone needs to get off their asses and make a decision. Appointing a committee to “study” the death penalty is as stupid as it is reckless. The State whines about budget shortfalls but appoints committees to study how much poop ducks and geese shat out. Instead of telling teachers their pay will be based on the success of their students how about our politicians in Harrisburg and Washington have their pay based on the amount of jobs they created or social services they saved, not how much they can spend on lavish trips and other tax payer funded perks. Geeze, and they call ME crazy…
What does it really cost to be a Fire Fighter? I wrote an earlier post on fund-raising and donations to help out your local volunteers. That is a monetary cost. But what about the physical and mental cost? Thousands of hours each year are spent on training alone and then add in actual calls. Some of these volunteers are gone for hours each week, away from their families, jobs and other things while serving their communities. Then there is the ultimate cost. What about, God forbid, they are killed in the line of duty? Line Of Duty Deaths (LODD) occur every year in the fire service and are a devastating loss to the department, but what about to the fire fighter’s family? Was this person the bread-winner? Then you have kids losing a parent.
Volunteer Fire Departments are a staple in many towns and the only way to have adequate fire protection. Most little Boroughs, towns and villages can’t afford a paid or career department so the Volunteer Fire Department is their way to go. Okay, I can hear you now, “Is there a point to any of this?” Yes, actually there is. I am talking about the fertilizer plant explosion earlier this week in West Texas. The West Texas Volunteer Fire Department was the 1st due department on scene. They were engulfed in an explosion of 25 tons of Sodium Nitrate. They know of at least 5 Fire Fighters killed in the conflagration, not to mention Police and EMS Personnel also lost. There are still others unaccounted for.
Let’s put this in perspective. Timothy McVey only used 1 Ton of Sodium Nitrate when he detonated his bomb in Oklahoma. There were reports that homes almost 3 blocks away were decimated in the blast. West Texas VFD confirmed that 5 of their members have died and 11 more are hospitalized. For a department that only has 29 volunteers on its roster they have lost 55% of their department. The life lost is the ultimate cost, but what about equipment too? It was reported that the West Texas VFD was the typical small town department. They don’t have endless rivers of money pouring into their department so it is another hit to them.
Every Department in the United States is covered under their communities’ workman’s compensaation insurance and there is a death benefit paid, but then still others have supplemental insurance through other companies like VFIS. (Volunteer Fireman’s Insurance Service). This supplemental insurance is not free but it helps the family with the final expenses and hopefully provides a little cushion to help the family get back on their feet, especially if the fire fighter killed was the bread-winner. In this day and age of a tanking economy, a tragic event like this hits a family especially hard because like I said earlier, there is the emotional devastation but also a financial loss.
Okay, that was the somber, worst-case-scenario of being a volunteer. What about the emotional toll? Let’s just start with long hours. Many times I have found myself standing for hours in the rain or beating sun or freezing weather at a vehicle accident or other emergency. After a while it can have an effect on you. Hours spent on the fire ground after a bad fire are tough as well. First responders are forced to deal with raw emotions at the scene of a call and have to deal with them in a professional manner. Families are experiencing horrible emotions during an emergency and then add in the death of a loved one and you could have an explosive situation and volunteers are forced to handle them, often with no training at all. Imagine being on the nozzle in a burning house and finding a victim, perhaps deceased, burnt or even worse; a child. All these things affect first responders. It can lead to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD. We have heard a lot about PTSD since the war in Iraq and Afghanistan but first responders deal with it as well. Does PTSD have tragic results? You bet it does.
Some seasoned veterans of the volunteer fire and EMS service say they have seen too much to ever be affected by something horrific. I disagree. You can have 20 minutes or 20 years in and still be affected. You never know what it is that finally takes someone over the edge. I myself spent 15 years as an EMT and Paramedic and 4 years as a Deputy Coroner. I am in my 22nd year as a Volunteer Firefighter and can say in all that time I have seen many things that affected me. My wife spent even more time as a Paramedic and Nurse and she was able to help me through the bad stuff. Having someone to talk to about it helped me. My wife would ask me questions about what happened on the call and we would discuss it. I know the she helped me through and to where I am today.
Not everyone is as lucky as I was. Having someone to talk to who has been there is an even bigger bonus and I had that. Some are not that lucky. They end up keeping it all bottled up inside until it explodes or they hide in a bottle and try to drink their way to back to sanity. It ends up backfiring and bad things happen. Some first responders end up committing suicide. Others have committed murder or worse all because of something horrible they saw. Dealing with emotional issues after traumatic calls is a serious issue. Paid departments could conceivably have a person trained to deal with the issues in the aftermath. I don’t know of any Volunteer Departments that have that luxury. A lot of Volunteer personnel are forced to deal with their feelings on their own or pay for a counselor out of their own pocket. To that end, the feelings lie unresolved until they boil over and there horrific results.
While it might seem that I believe that being a Volunteer is more difficult than being paid, I don’t. I do however believe that it has its own set of unique challenges. Training is a big one though. While most career Fire Fighters and Paramedics receive their training for free, many Volunteers are forced to pay for their own training or just not have it. With things changing the way they are, even Volunteer departments are being forced to have the same training as paid departments. This is an ever-increasing problem. Many volunteer departments just simply lack the properly trained members or the money to get them trained.
I guess it mainly boils down to money. Some Volunteer Departments are forced operate antiquated or sub-par equipment or even worse just do without. Their membership base is just too economically strapped to help out much and in turn results in low Fund Drive Returns and poor showings for Fund Raisers. Has this resulted in Departments closing their doors? Yes it has. In just my 22 years as a Volunteer Fire Fighter I have seen several departments close their doors due to no money. Other departments have closed because of low membership numbers. You can’t operate 5 pieces of apparatus when you don’t have enough active members to even fully crew 1.
The next time you see a volunteer firefighter or EMT, take a second to thank them for what they do. Also think about what the real cost is to be a volunteer. Some people think they are in it to get to run a blue light and speed to calls. Really? And they call ME crazy.
I was granted a rare opportunity over the weekend. I was asked to interview Kim Jong-un, the dictator of North Korea. I was apprehensive at first because it has been 23 years since I set foot in Korea and back up at Panmunjom. I accepted and called my Uncle Duff. He was the one who got me started in blogging and used to host a blog called “One Man’s Tofu.” He said I should take the chance because it will probably be the only chance the American People have to hear from him on the situation going on there. He reminded me to take his interview kit with me so I would have a good trip.
So armed with my pad and pencil, a bottle of 20-year-old, single malt scotch and a package of Nutter Butters, I left for the airport. When I arrived in Seoul it almost felt like I never left. I was met by a representative from our Embassy there and escorted to a secure area for a briefing before the 45 minute ride up MSR 3 (Military Supply Route) for my interview. I was cautioned to not say anything that could escalate the current situation but then I was asked to try and gather any intel I could. Not escalating the situation might be hard for me with my propensity to be a smart ass but agreed and was taken out to a waiting car.
When we arrived at Panmunjom, I was escorted to the very room where the cease-fire was signed some 61 years ago and I visited 24 years ago in the winter of 1989. Armed guards from both the North Korean Army and Republic of Korea (ROK) were stationed outside the doors. A white line ran down the middle of the room to designate the 38th Parallel and signify the division between north and South Korea. There was a large oak table in the middle of the room with a chair on the north and south side of the table. I of course was seated on the southern side.
I was nervous as I sat there. I opened my notebook and put my pencil out. I set the bottle of scotch and Nutter Butters out as well. I was fidgety as I waited. I folded my hands neatly and sat there waiting. The door opened up on the Northern end of the room and in walked a portly little fella roughly about 4’ 10”. I stood up, trying to remember my diplomacy and extended my hand. “Sir, it is a great honor,” I said. He looked me over, up at me actually, and shook my hand. “It is a preasure to welcome you,” he replied. I noticed they had discreetly placed 3 books on his chair so he could see over the table. I opened the package of Nutter Butters and offered them to him. He took his share and slid the package back to me; with three left in it. “Sir,” I said, “Would you like a drink?” I motioned towards the bottle of scotch. “What you got?” he asked. “A 20 year-old bottle of scotch,” I said. “Hooch?” he asked. I smiled and felt the hair on the back of neck stand up. Hooch. It was better than the Soju they try and pass off as booze. Anyhow, with the pleasantries over with, it was time to get down to business.
ATCMC – You are currently under fire for ramping up your nuclear program and threatening a launch. Does this concern you in the overall picture of everything?
Kim Jong-un – (Through a mouthful of Nutter Butters) Me not worried what others think. Me running this prace, not the U.N. Hey, that my name. ha ha ha ha. He took a swig of scotch, belched, and continued. Your Plesident Balack Obama think he can treaten us with sanctions, he clazier then he rooks.
ATCMC – So you are saying the threat is real and nothing the United States does will hinder your progress, correct?
Kim Jong-un – Vely good, you understand compretree. There is nothing that can be done to stop us.
ATCMC – Is your nuclear program that far along that a launch is imminent?
Kim Jong-un – Not in so many words, but yes we are getting leddy for a major raunch. All our tests have been pletty plomising.
As he spoke, little cookie bits were flying everywhere. It was like standing beside the discharge of a lawnmower while you were running it over a gravel driveway. I put my glasses back on more for safety then vision.
ATCMC – Do you have a target in mind, or are you going to see where it hits?
He took another swig of scotch, finished it, and then banged it on the table for a refill. Apparently I was not only acting as an interviewer but a bar tender as well. I filled his glass and patiently waited for a response. He took another swig.
Kim Jong-un – (belch) You Amelicans tink you pletty smart. I not ter you where we going to shoot at.
ATCMC – A source close to you told the Associated Press that you had capabilities to hit Guam. Is that the intended target?
Kim Jong-un – I not terring you. You will just have to see the awesome power of our weapons. We have a contlact with a good weapons maker and he not messing alound. It cost us rearry big money. We show the world.
Kim Jong-un - What you mean not a threat? We have the most advanced technorogy on the pranet.
ATCMC - Pictures have been leaked showing what some might call, um, sub-standard equipment.
Kim Jong-un - It is all Plopaganda to make round-eyes rike you feel more secure. We are a super power.
ATCMC - Okay, what ever you say buddy boy, but I don’t believe that calling me names is called for.
Kim Jong-un - Well, I not aporogizing. You have to deal with it. Now to show you I not a bad guy, I want you to join me for runch.
ATCMC - What are you serving?
Kim Jong-un - My convoy hit a dog on the way here.
Kim Jong-un - Well, they apploached me and ask me if I could be a before picture? I not know what that mean, but I know they offer to pay me so I take job to fund nuclear proglam.
As we were talking his lunch arrived. There was enough food there to feed a small country. There was seafood, kimchi, noodles and vegetables and some kind of meat. I assumed it was the dog hit earlier. I graciously declined any of the offerings. He looked at me and said, “This mine runch, you say you not hungly.” I watched in horror as this little fella mowed through the food set before him like Chuck Norris through an entire brigade of commies. I’m pretty sure he ate the Nutter Butters wrapper and empty scotch bottle as well since I couldn’t find them when he was done. When he finished he pushed all of the empty plates and dishes to the side, and snapped his fingers. Two men came in and scurried around the room gathering up the empties from his lunch. He sat back in his chair and belched. Then he farted and acted like it was the funniest thing ever in the world. I cleared my throat and got ready to ask more questions.
He stirred in his chair, almost falling off the books he was sitting on. He got a strange look on his face. I wasn’t sure what was going on until he leaned to one side again and, um depressurized yet again. He sat back in his chair and smiled. “False ararm,” he said. “Is everything okay?” I asked. “Yes, no probrem,” he answered. “No probrem” my ass. The room smelled like the dumpster at a slaughterhouse in August. Nonetheless I pressed on because the hour was getting late and I wasn’t sure how much more time I would be granted.
Kim Jong-un - That is right. Rike I say before. We have new Weapons factory working for us and we have good maker. The missile is best money can buy.
ATCMC - Is Iran helping you at all with the development of your nuclear weapons? I mean, it has been said in the media that your missile launches have been failures.
Kim Jong-un - Why you ask so many questions about my missiles? You tlying to be funny guy?
ATCMC - It is the big thing on everyone’s minds these days. I mean no disrespect I just want to ease the American Public’s fears about a nuclear attack.
Kim Jong-un - You not need to worry who helping us. All you need worry about is when we strike. Like a cobra. But now I must ask you question of my own.
ATCMC - Certainly sir, what ever you need to ask.
I was afraid of what the question might be. He was such a weird one, it was hard to imagine what earth-shattering questions this little fella could have.
Kim Jong-un - You got any more of them cookies?
Realizing I didn’t eat the 3 that he had graciously left me, I passed them across the table.
ATCMC - Here you go sir.
Kim Jong-un - Thank you but it is getting rate, I must be going, time for dinner soon. And prease don’t take our missile program rightry. We are a nuclear super power. You just don’t go around thinking you better than us. We not messing around.
ATCMC - I hope you enjoyed the Nutter Butters and Scotch.
Kim Jong-un - Yes, yes, good hooch. I rike the cookie too. You must tell me where to get them. I think it onry fair. We give you Ramen, you give us cookies.
I asked a few more questions but Kim Jong-un was becoming uncooperative. Apparently since it was 45 minutes since he ate last he was getting hungry and cranky. He stood up and climbed down off of his chair. He did not shake my hand or say anything else as he left. I was glad I made the trip now just so I could discover what a tool bag he really was. The third one of this family to be in control of North Korea and just as effed up as the other 2. The third generation cuckoo doesn’t fall too far from the tree.
I realize now that people like Kim Jong-un is what is wrong with the world. They are bent on world domination instead of everyone working together. I also want to take this time to send a prayer out to Boston where they had the bombing near the end of the marathon yesterday. Too many crack-pots out there and all they are doing is turning the world to shit. Kim Jong-un is just another mental midget in a line of thousands. Geeze-o-man, and they call ME carzy…
It is that time of year again. The time when your local volunteer fire departments send out their fund drive requests. There are some who see the letter and immediately toss it in the trash without even reading it. That’s fine, but lets look at it from another stand point. Let’s say this is your house here on the left. What if your local department didn’t have enough money to fix a broken truck or even pay their monthly fuel bill? I can tell you that this house was mostly saved. The garage was a total loss and there was significant damage to the house, but because the local volunteers were able to respond quickly the house wasn’t a pile of charcoal and all of the home owners irreplaceable possessions, like pictures and other keepsakes, were saved. The home owner is having repairs made and getting ready to live there again. Now am I saying that you are expected to give $5000 dollars or even $100? No, you give what you can. In this age of skyrocketing gas prices, and pretty much everything else, there is very little money left for anything else. The local volunteers face the same problems.
To buy a new Pumper the base price is around $400,000. Now that is an Apparatus with little or no options added at the factory. The NFPA (National Fire Protection Agency) sets standards that the equipment must meet. That changes each year. Most of them are made for safety. We went from open cab trucks to fully enclosed cabs and that is just a basic change. But with changes comes added costs. Now lets add in the cost of outfitting the truck once it is built. Ladders, hose, fans and the miscellaneous other equipment all costs money. “Why don’t they just use the equipment and hoses from the truck they are replacing?” That is a good question. The answer is simple; they do for the most part. However equipment wears out or just becomes unserviceable.
Personal Protective Equipment is still more money with the addition of the above. A complete set of turnout gear, this includes boots, pants, coat, gloves, nomex hood and helmet, can start at $1200 per firefighter. I said stat at. Depending on the type of gear and other variables, the price can climb way past the $2000 mark for each set per man. Now add in portable radios needs serviced, batteries need replaced and that is just hand held radios, I didn’t get started on the radios mounted in the trucks. Plus all of the other other equipment that must be serviced, repaired and replaced. Let’s talk about training. Most volunteer departments make the member pay for the class up front, but will reimburse the member upon successful completion. All of these things cost money. Have there been departments that have closed their doors? You bet your sweet bipi! Does that hit a community hard? Yes it does.
Now if I have led to believe that if you don’t donate to you local Volunteer Fire Department or Volunteer Ambulance service they will shut their doors or not be able to respond, I apologize. While it is understood that most of us don’t have the extra money to give, even the smallest amount helps. Think of these guys getting up at all hours of the day and night, leaving family holidays and birthdays to go save the life or property of someone they never met. Listening to the agonizing screams as they cut someone out of their car; and they do it for FREE in all sorts of weather no matter when they are called. They do their own fund raising as well but the day-to-day expenses are astronomical. I hear you out there saying; “Well these guys have bingo’s don’t they?” Yep, they do. But there is expense added in there. You have to buy the equipment to host the bingo, promote it and make sure your bingo machine works. It all costs money. Yes I know, “It takes money to make money.” Also with everyone hurting these days, the turn outs at bingo’s and other fundraisers is dwindling. Once again, you are not being asked to donate thousands of dollars (although it would be greatly appreciated). Even $10 goes a long way. There are grants available to departments, but a department can be turned down for any number of reasons. Some departments have a grant writer to make sure that their request letter meets the requirements to go through each step of the process. Grant writers cost money, and even with one a department could still be turned down. Then each grant has specifics on what the money can be used for, and the department has to show it was used for the specified purpose or they have to pay it back.
Do I sound like I’m really plugging Volunteer Fire Departments? Well, as of May 1st, I will have been a Volunteer Firefighter for 22 years. I am a member of my local Volunteer Fire Department and I understand what it takes to make a department function every day. Even just basic office supplies are an expense. Remember too that this is a brotherhood. Hopefully you never need us, but if you do, think about what these guys are leaving to come to your emergency, and do it for no pay. They will respond to your call for help whether you donated or not. Saving life and property is what it is all about. At the end of the day if we have to use buckets to put the fire out, we will. Just keep in mind that it all costs money. Remember when you hug your spouse when that big red fire truck pulls up to your emergency, it was people like you who donated just a little but it made such a huge difference.
Remember from the Bible, Luke 6:38 – Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”
Kim Jong Un, the latest hater of the United States is threatening to launch a nuke at America. Really? Get in line behind every other country that hates the USA and threatens to nuke us off the map. Un succeeded his father who overdosed on Ramen and Kimchi in December of 2011. No, seriously, his father died of natural causes. Un is not the oldest of his father’s sons but he got the job anyway. (The brothers were probably too smart to take it). He says they have a serious nuke program and will be ready to launch a strike soon. Maybe, but I bet all your missiles say “Made in Japan” on them somewhere. This is not a stable man by any stretch of the imagination. So should we take this as a joke or be worried. Because he is a few fries short of a Happy Meal, I wouldn’t say worried is right word. Pensive, Alert, Cautious are probably better words. Our own government is more of a threat to us then this little fella.
Now for a little history lesson. Way back in February of 1989, yours truly was stationed on the DMZ in this very Guard Post. This is Guard Post Collier, approx 2 Kilometers from Panmunjom where the Cease Fire was signed way back in 1952. Yes, I said cease-fire. There was never an agreement to end the war signed. Technically, we have been at war all this time. Obama said we will go to war if we have to. Really, like anyone cares now when we say that. I think we need stiffer penalties then crushing them again like we did 61 years ago. Let’s take Oodles of Noodles, and DaeWoo and Kimchi out of our stores and that will fix them. I mean really. We sent a fleet over there as a show of force. If Mr. Miagi would try to launch a missile, it will be shot out of the sky. His bigger concern should be his haircut. I mean what is it about the crack pots bent on world domination. Hitler, Mussolini, Saddam Husein, John Kerry, they all had really bad haircuts. In all truthfulness, there should be a certain amount of fear because ANYTHING is possible. We never dreamed 9-11 could happen and guess what, It Did!
After all, its our own damn fault. We play kissey face with these countries and they are just biding their time until they get the opportunity to turn on us. I mean why don’t we stop sending them money and let them hate us for free. We always want to stick our noses in where they don’t belong and look what it gets us. Obama threatened action if Kim Jung Un continued with his plans to begin a nuke program again. Well B-Dawg, where’s the action? A fleet positioned off the coast is like hanging a Beware of Dog sign in your front window. After a while, When you don’t see the dog, you know it was a bunch of bull. Ask my daughter. I threaten to punish her or ground her when she misbehaves, she knows it ain’t gonna happen. Un knows it too. Obama just started getting us out of one war, does anyone really think he wants to go into another one? South Korea has an Army, why do we need to hold their hands, again? We need to be cautious but we should also expect other countries to handle their own problems… I mean really. Here is my solution for all of this…
I mean, it seems pretty simple to me… And They Call ME Crazy.
In an update from our last post; Justice for Jennifer – Part III – Another Conviction; Ricky Smyrnes, the purported ringleader of the Greensburg 6, was convicted to die of lethal injection. On Thursday a jury decided he was not mentally retarded, therefore, he was eligible for the death penalty. By law, a person that is mentally retarded can not be put to death. This stirs my earlier question; does that mean they can be kidnapped, tortured and murdered?
Smyrnes lawyer, Terry Faye, argued that he was mildly retarded, citing a defense expert. D.A. John Peck countered stating that Smyrnes knew what he was doing. He knew Daugherty would have to be held captive in that apartment. “I only ask that you give us justice in accordance with the law, based on a preponderance of the evidence.”
After Peck’s closing argument, the jury had to decide Smyrnes fate; Should he sent to prison for the rest of his life with no possibility of parole or should he be put to death. In less than 4 hours the jury decided death was to be the outcome. Peck said of the death penalty; “It is reserved for the worst of the worst murderers, the worst of the worst defendants…”
“I don’t care what he did, he’s a person,” Terry Faye told the jury during her closing argument, trying to spare Smyrnes the death penalty. “I’m not saying I feel sorry for him. I’m not saying I like him; I’m not sure if I like him, but you can’t ignore the evidence,” Faye said.
He’s a person? So was Jennifer Daugherty and she was kidnapped, tortured and murdered by 6 people she thought were her friends. Yes, she was living with a mental disability. Does that mean that she is any less of a person? What these 6 monsters did to her was inconceivable. Congratulations to D.A. John Peck on securing another conviction. The last 3 members of “The Greensburg 6″ are scheduled for upcoming trials and it is believed that 2 of them will cop pleas… Let’s get 6 for 6 and get “Justice for Jennifer…”
In a swift deliberation earlier this week, a Westmoreland County Pennsylvania jury found Ricky Smyrnes guilty of first degree murder in the death of Jennifer Daugherty in 2010 and will return Tuesday the 19th to decide if he should spend the rest of his life in prison or be put to death.
The jury deliberated roughly two hours before finding Smyrnes, the accused ring leader of the infamous “Greensburg Six” guilty on all counts including second-degree murder, conspiracy and kidnapping in the torture murder of Daugherty in Smyrnes shit-box apartment in Greensburg.
The speed of the verdict surprised Smyrnes’ lawyer Mike DeRiso. “It came back faster than any of us anticipated,” he said. Really? I didn’t think it was a real stretch to find him guilty. This writer believes that what these people did to Ms. Daugherty, the mentally challenged woman who was befriended by these monsters, is incomprehensible to anyone with an ounce of compassion.
DeRiso felt that the jury would come back with a guilty verdict for second-degree murder not first. Oh well. Maybe there are people who think and believe like the rest of society does and after hearing the pure misery, terror and pain Ms. Daugherty suffered at the hands of these six monsters, couldn’t find any result other than guilty of first-degree murder.
DeRiso himself did his best to lay the ground-work for an insanity plea when he was talking to the press. He said that Smyrnes is “nuts” when he’s off his meds. Since Tuesday is the penalty phase of the trial, Smyrnes’ mental capacity and criminal history will be at issue. Insanity is a common plea since you can’t find someone “bat-shit crazy” you have to say insane. It is the more politically correct way to say it.
No matter how you slice it they will be going balls to the wall to try and spare him the death penalty. It’s what defense attorney’s do. Do I agree with it? We’ll leave that one alone. I think all of the “Greensburg Six” should get the needle but that choice is not up to me. Then there is our state of Pennsylvania. While they re-instituted the Death Penalty they haven’t used it since 1999 when Gary Heidnik took the lethal injection for killing and eating his victims and feeding them to the others he held captive.
What I truly believe is that if the great state of Pennsylvania is never going to execute another death row inmate then let’s do away with the death penalty all together. What is the point of ceremoniously sentencing someone to death to never execute them. Then to allow these cretins to file appeal after appeal does nothing but clog our justice system and cost the Commonwealth millions of dollars to put these convicted killers back on trial again and again. Lesko and Travaglia of Westmoreland County are the poster children of countless appeals. The have had somewhere around 15 appeals between the two of them since their 1981 “Kill for Thrill” spree in Pittsburgh, Armstrong, Indiana and Westmoreland Counties where their victims included a female who picked them up hitchhiking, a police officer shot down in cold blood and a church organist who they beat and drowned in an Indiana County Park Lake.
Kevin Foley, the disgraced PA State Police Trooper, was convicted of the 2006 murder of his girlfriend’s estranged husband John Yelenic in his Blairsville home. Yelenic was beaten, stabbed and his throat was slashed so savagely he was almost beheaded. Foley was tied to the murder by bloody foot prints and security camera footage from a nearby convenience store. He too is filing appeal after appeal although he was not convicted to die he was still sentenced to life in prison.
Pennsylvania has what it called Post Conviction Relief Act (PCRA). Once an inmate has been convicted and sentenced, they are granted one appeal. For some reason the legal system allows for appeal after appeal after appeal. Apparently being found guilty umpteen times is still grounds for an appeal. My point is simple though. No matter what the crime is there should only be a certain amount of appeals before they are out. I mean really, how many times do Lesko and Travaglia need to be found guilty and sentenced to death before the courts realize; “Hey, these guys might really be guilty…”
The bottom line is simple; We need to change sentencing guidelines and limit the number of appeals someone can have. Two other members of the infamous “Greensburg Six” have already been tried and convicted. Melvin Knight was convicted and sentenced to death late last year and Angela Marinucci was convicted and sentenced to life in prison. Since she was under 18 at the time of the crime she was not eligible for the death penalty. Now Ricky Smyrnes will wait for the same jury that convicted him of his crimes to decide the outcome of his sentence.
A second defense attorney Terrence Faye will argue that Smyrnes is mildly retarded. The same argument Mr. DeRiso made at trial on Thursday during his closing. Under the law, mentally challenged people can’t be put to death. Does that mean they can be kidnapped and murdered?
DA John Peck argued that Smyrnes knew exactly what he was doing. During his closing Peck described him as a conniving schemer who incited his 5 roommates, including his girlfriend Angela Marinucci, to hold Daugherty captive for two days while beating and torturing her. Peck said it was Smyrnes who held a “Family Meeting” to take a vote on whether or not Daugherty should live or die, then ordered co-defendant Melvin Knight to kill her with a knife. Peck then said Smyrnes pitted Marinucci against Daugherty in a bid for his affection in what amounted in a twisted love triangle. Then Marinucci and the other assholes, sorry, accused, then ganged up on Daugherty and killed her according to the prosecution.
As I end this I am glad to see that so far Westmoreland County DA John Peck is 3 for 3. These people need to pay for what they did to a woman with mental disability is unbelievable. While I think that life in prison is too good for these pieces of shit, sorry, that was insensitive, The final judgement is God’s. The judge in the court room has judged them and now there is only one judgement left. “Vengeance is mine says the lord…” Although I say; “An eye for an eye…”
Well here we go. Super Bowl 47 is set. The San Francisco 49ers Will face the Baltimore Ravens. It has been dubbed “Harbaugh Bowl”. I call it the battle of the ball bags. The Harbaugh Brothers are known throughout the NFL for crying to the officiating staff after every play. Jim Harbaugh surprised everyone but the bookies in Las Vegas with his team’s come from behind victory against the Atlanta Falcons. Of Course his brother showed that Baltimore can win… Even a fixed game. Tom Brady played worse than Paul Crew in the movie “The Longest Yard”. I’ve seen poor performances before but New England’s Poor Play last Sunday against Baltimore was the worst acting job since Jean-Claude Van Damme in ANY of his movies. No my dear readers, the outcome of both Championship Games was decided before any of the teams ever took the field.
Can the Harbaugh Brother’s coach? Well, they are not the worst coaches in the NFL but I would like to see less crying and whining during the game. Yes, there will be questionable calls, but that is part of sports. Should the referee’s be stepped to when they blow it? Absolutely, but I mean really, after EVERY PLAY? Now I must digress. Do I like John Harbaugh? No. He is coach of Pittsburgh’s most hated opponent; the Baltimore Ravens. Yes, we split the season with them but They are still our most hated rivals. I mean c’mon, the Ravens are the old Cleveland Browns. Jim Harbaugh used to play and he was good. I just don’t like the arrogance they both display. Harbaugh even made a comment last year about living in California. He has no idea what the STFU Filter is. But now the question remains; Who do you want to win the Super Bowl? Is it the Hated Ravens or San Fran who can equal Pittsburgh’s record of 6 Super Bowls Rings. Here’s how I look at it. If San Fran wins they will only be TYING Pittsburgh’s record. If Baltimore Wins then We’ll just have to beat up on the Super Bowl Champs in the regular season next year. Of course I’ll be more interested in the commercials anyhow.
In other Football News, Anna Welker, wife of New England Patriot Wes Welker made some unsavory comments regarding Raven’s Ray Lewis. Yes, we all know Lewis was acquitted of a murder in 2000 and obviously Anna Welker is not a member of the Ray Lewis Fan Club. She made her comments then apologized for them. They were: “Proud of my husband and the Pats. By the way, if anyone is bored, please go to Ray Lewis’ Wikipedia page. 6 kids 4 wives. Acquitted for murder. Paid a family off. Yay. What a hall of fame player! A true role model!” Do I like Ray Lewis? No. I also think that any regular Joe, accused of Murder as Lewis was would have never been acquitted. Should Anna Welker be worried about legal repercussions from Ray Lewis? I doubt it. What could he really get her on? Definition of Character?
It will be an interesting Super Bowl to say the least. The very least actually. But I have also heard some of Steeler Nation saying they will be cheering for Baltimore this year. And I guess if one of the two bothers have to win I guess I’d rather see Baltimore then San Fran. I mean this is Ray Lewis’ final season. Pittsburgh went through it when Jerome Bettis retired so I understand what it means to Baltimore. Let’s just have a safe game with no injuries. I mean all joking aside, Winning the Super Bowl the year you retire is special. Ray Lewis would be going out on a high note I guess you could say. I just hope the money he gets from it won’t affect his AARP and Social Security benefits. I mean what kind of retirement could he have if he breaks a hip or something. I’m sure if Baltimore wins the Super Bowl Ray Lewis’ party will be killer. Oh, sorry, I guess that was a bad choice of words.
We’ll see Pittsburgh there next year. It was tough sledding this year what with all the injuries they suffered. No matter what happens, Steeler Nation is still the greatest bunch of fans in the world in any sporting event.
Well, here it is; my favorite blog of the year. I truly love to drive around and look at Christmas lights. I also love to point out how way out of control some people get when decorating. Suffice it to say, some of you are still not paying attention. It’s not that I think the fewer decorations you put out the better, but for those of you who have read this blog the last few years you know that there are a few rules for tasteful decoration.
#1 rule: Don’t use every decoration you have. I mean really, if planes are diverting from their flight paths because they think your yard is the runway, you have too many lights out. If your electric meter is spinning so fast you can barely see it, too many. If you get accolades from the International Space Station, too many.
Here is a local example from near where I live. It is neatly done and the lights are straight but good Lord! This falls under the; “You don’t need to put out every decoration you own,” category. Yes Virginia, it is a blinding mess. It is not the worst one I have ever seen but for all intents and purposes, it’s very loud and almost painful. I also hate the lighted shapes. They are really ugly and you can get away with one or two tastefully selected ones but some people go way, way out of control.
Lighted shapes are ugly and if you live in a housing plan with a covenant, this could get you tossed from there. Of course, if you live in a nice neighborhood this could get your house egged or vandalized in some other way. Decorating your house like this can make property values in your entire neighborhood drop. Thankfully there are no houses decorated like this near me, this year, but there are those who have no idea that they are committing first degree eye-slaughter for doing this. Now hopefully I’m not giving you the idea that I abhor certain kinds of decorations and will hammer anyone who uses them. Not true. I like all kinds of decorations but if you misuse them, I will let you know about it. I guess it’s just like anything; moderation is the key. If you go overboard with anything it is not good. Christmas decorations are the same way. I feel that decorations are meant to heighten the holiday experience, not horrify and frighten those exposed to them. I know some of think I’m out of my skull but nonetheless, I enjoy doing this and I will probably continue.
Inflatable decorations can be attractive and a nice way to decorate if you are short on time or room. But I digress, This example of what not to do with inflatables is one I could consider an extreme case. However it is not the most extreme. I guess my next pet peeve with these kinds of decorations is that you should make sure they are working properly. Lights burnt out, not inflated or laying over in your yard make your display look like something out of “Hllbilly Digest”.
Like I was saying. Make sure your your inflatables are properly working and secured in your yard. This little scenario could be very traumatic to some poor little tot who would happen to see Santa laying in your yard. Now our weather has been a little funky the last couple of weeks, but I know even I will periodically check my decorations mainly to be sure they haven’t blown away but also to be sure they are still where I put them to start. The last thing I want is to find my reindeer across the street in my neighbors yard. Now this year I saw a new inflatable decoration that I think I like as much as Santa in the trailer; Santa in an outhouse. I thought it was really funny and will probably seek one out. I still threaten my neighbor that I’m going to get a Santa on a Harley inflatable.
I guess the next peeve I have is lights. People, lets make sure they are working. some people have their decorations out from Thanksgiving or earlier but if you are going to do that you will more than likely have to perform some maintenence on them. I know myself I have a couple of bulbs out that need replaced but it is not really noticeable. This example to the left is really obvious. Another one I’m not sure I took a picture of was the mixing of lights. LED is the new craze and that is fine. I don’t like the mix of LED and incandescent. The light from the LED is harsher I think and doesn’t go well with the Incandescent. However, the blue LED icicle lights seem to go with the white incandescent lights the best. My wife likes to decorate for the season, not just necessarily the holiday and we use blue for winter so the blue LED icicles would be a nice addition to our winter themed house while the snow flies.
As I get ready to end this I guess it’s not fair that I’ve only shown you the bad and the ugly. It would only be fair to show you the good as well.
As I leave you for yet another year I plead with all of you to safely decorate this year. Remember, you are not the only one who will see your display. Let’s stop those needless decoration injuries from those exposed to the most hideous. I hope you all have a nice Christmas and New Years and with all the chiding I did here today, lets keep the true meaning of Christmas in the season and keep Christ in Christmas. Peace to all from all of us here at ATCMC.