Archive for the ‘Lawsuit’ Category

Live Analysis of President Obama’s Health Care Speech to Congress

September 9, 2009

I know it’s been a while since I’ve done a blog post (other than the one I did yesterday), but I figured this was an important issue to talk about, and I’ll probably be writing a column on health care sometime this week, so this will help me get some ideas down a little early.

President Obama is about to give  a speech to a joint session of Congress, and I’ll be giving my live analysis of his speech.  And this is live, so excuse any typos – I’m not always great at typing quickly.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has just gaveled the session into order, so we’ll begin in about 10 minutes here.

The President’s speech is expected to last about 45 minutes (not including applause), so I’m guessing that it will run close to an hour (maybe a little over) when it’s all done.

Speaker Pelosi has now called the session to order – Vice President Joe Biden by her side.

The Escort Committee is now leaving to follow behind President Obama when he enters the chamber.

Michelle Obama is now arriving.  The Cabinet is now coming into the chamber.

President Obama is now coming into the chamber – and he’s getting a lot of applause (as every President does during these joint sessions).

He’s now up to the podium – Speaker Pelosi is trying to bring the chamber to order.  She is now introducing President Obama.

He’s talking about the last time he spoke here – that it was during the worst economic situation we’ve faced since the Great Depression.  “We are by no means out of the woods … a full recovery is still months away.”  He’s saying that he won’t let up until “those who seek jobs can find them.”

Wow – Hillary Clinton looks out-of-place – she’s wearing this red suit and she’s surrounded by men in black suits.

President Obama is thanking Congress for their help and support in trying to fix America’s economy.  He’s talking about building a future for America, and that health care is central to that future.

“I am not the first President to take up that cause, but I am determined to be the last.”  It’s a nice quote, but there’s always going to have to be reform – things change – nothing will ever be perfect.

He’s talking about Teddy Roosevelt talking about health care reform, and Representative John Dingell (D-MI) introducing a bill every session to reform health care.

Talking about the hardships facing those who are uninsured – not those on welfare, but mostly the middle class.  He’s talking about people being denied insurance because of previous conditions.  “We are the only democracy … the only wealthy nation who allows such hardship for its people.”  But we’re also the democracy who other countries turn to for certain health care needs (such as Canadians needing some quick emergency treatments).

Talking about insurance companies dropping patients in the middle of treatment for bogus reasons such as having acne and not claiming it – and I’ll agree with him here – that’s a problem that SHOULD be addressed.

Talking about insurance premiums going up, and leading to businesses not being able to open/survive because of health care costs.

It’s “placing an unsustainable burden on taxpayers. … We will eventually be spending more on Medicare and Medicaid than every other program combined.”  Again – he’s right here – Medicare/Medicaid costs are getting out of control – it’s just the solution where I disagree with him.

Talking about a single payer system like Canada’s or a plan that individuals should buy their own health care, but both of these are radical shifts that would disrupt the health care system.  He’s saying we should use what works as a template and fix the problems in our current system, rather than switch to a Canadian-style system or a completely individual style system.

He’s now talking about the 5 committees coming up with health care bills in Congress – an amount of reform that has been unprecedented in history – and again – this is a good thing – if we have multiple ideas, we have more to choose from and more discussion going around.

Now he’s talking about opponents to reform using scare tactics and just trying to score political points.  “The time for bickering is over.  The time for games has passed.”  Games and bickering are part of the American political system – it’s a sad fact, but it’s true.  And both parties do it, but getting into a “Well the other party did __________” kind of mentality is bad for America.

“If you already have insurance … nothing in this plan will require you to change what you have. … What this plan will do is make this insurance that you have work better for you.”  It’ll make it illegal for insurance companies to deny you based on a preexisting condition.  And that got a LOT of applause.  It will be illegal for them to drop you when you get sick.

“No one should go broke because they get sick. … Insurance companies will be required … to cover routine check ups … and preventative care. … It saves money and it saves lives.”  And that was all for people who already have insurance.

For those who don’t, this plan will give you an opportunity to get quality insurance.  “We’ll do this by creating a new business exchange.”  Insurance companies will want this because it gives them more customers.

And for those who still can’t afford insurance, tax credits will be provided.  The exchange will take effect in 4 years.

He’s talking about immediate relief for those who get sick before then, citing a plan that Senator McCain proposed during the plan during the 2008 campaign – and Senator McCain just got a huge grin on his face.

He’s saying that some people may not want to pay for insurance, but when they get sick, we wind up paying for their health care when they wind up in the hospital.  “Under my plan, people will be required to carry basic health insurance” just like states require people to have basic auto insurance.

And this is where I disagree with the President.  Personally, I don’t think we should be forcing people to buy insurance; however, I also don’t think that we should then be paying for their hospital visits.  If someone decides not to get insurance, and they get sick, then we shouldn’t be footing the bill – they should just have to pay for treatment themselves or not get it.

Now, moving on to “key controversies that are still out there:”

  • Saying that there won’t be plans to try to kill off the elderly who are sick.
  • No money will go toward illegal immigrants. – and somebody just shouted “Lie!” and Speaker Pelosi gave him a stare of death – whoever it was, that was pretty unprofessional and immature.
  • No money will go toward funding abortions.
  • This will not be a takeover of the entire health care system.

These are all good points, and I’d encourage EVERYBODY to read the bill that finally gets introduced instead of just listening to either the Democrats’ talking points or the Republicans’ talking points.

“Consumers do better when there’s choice and competition.”  And he’s absolutely right about that – but instead of setting up a government program to do this, we should open insurance markets to cross state lines, so that companies can compete nationwide, adding more competition all over the nation.

He’s saying that he doesn’t want to drive insurance companies out of business, just hold them accountable.

He’s saying that he would like a non-profit public option (which that surprised me that he still pushed for that – I figured that he wasn’t going to try to push that tonight).  It would be an option for those who don’t have insurance, and people wouldn’t be forced to chose it.  He estimates that less than 5% of Americans would sign up.  He’s saying that this public option wouldn’t be funded by the government, but would have to be self sufficient.

But what would happen if it stopped being self sufficient?  Would it essentially turn into a Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac?

He’s saying that some are suggesting that the public option only go into effect where insurance companies aren’t competing well, or that we have a private co-op instead.  Saying that he won’t back down from giving a choice to people who can’t afford health care.

And the screen just panned over to the Republican section and they really do not look happy about this.

“Now he’s talking about how we’ll pay for the plan – “I will not sign a plan that adds one dime to our deficit – either now, or in the future. … Period.”  He’s saying that in his plan, there will be a section that will require spending cuts if the means of saving money aren’t there.  He’s now talking about the past administration making a mistake in passing tax cuts that we couldn’t afford as well as the Iraq War.

And while he does have an excellent point with the Iraq War part (which is a whole separate issue), I don’t think that that jab at the Bush Administration is going to help win any Republicans over – and with Senator Kennedy gone, they’re going to need an additional Republican vote in the Senate.  That was a bad strategic move on the President’s part.

Talking about ensuring that Medicare will be there for future generations.  Saying that seniors pay too much out-of-pocket for prescription drugs.  Saying not to pay attention to “scary stories that your benefits will be cut.”  GOP members don’t look happy.  “I will protect Medicare.”

“Making [Medicare] more efficient will [help make] the entire system more efficient.”  Saying that if we reduce waste in Medicare and Medicaid, that will pay for his plan.  Well why don’t we just reduce waste in Medicare and Medicaid anyway!  Why do you need to add one “good” thing to get rid of one bad thing?  Why not just cut waste out of M&M whether or not the other health care reforms pass or not.

Talking about malpractice reform bringing down costs of health care – and all the GOP members stood up and started cheering – even Biden stood up for that one.  Saying that we need to put safety first and let doctors focus on practicing medicine.  Saying that the Bush Administration wanted to test some of these ideas in individual states, and he likes that plan too.  So now he’s playing to the Republican side a bit – which is good because he’s going to need to do that if he wants this to pass the Senate.

Now talking about it’ll cost $900 billion over the next 10 years, but that’s less than the Iraq War…and I think he said something about the Bush tax cuts – I didn’t catch it.  Whatever it was, the Dems liked it, but the Repubs looked pretty pissed off – Rep. Thad McCotter (R-MI) really didn’t like whatever was said.

Saying he won’t stand by as the special interest groups fight to keep things the way they are.  “I will not accept the status quo as the solution.”  And he’s right – we DO need reform – I just disagree with him on the type of reform we need.

Talking about reforms leading to saving lives.

“We cannot fail … there are too many Americans counting on us to succeed.”

Talking about the late Senator Kennedy (D-MA) on his death bed talking about this year being the year that health care reform will be passed.

Health care reform has been a source of “rigorous and intense debate”.

Obama’s talking about Senators Hatch (R-UT) and McCain (R-AZ) and Grassley (R-IA) working with Senator Kennedy.  That his p”assion was born out of his own experience … having 2 children stricken with cancer.”  He’s saying that “concern for others … is not a partisan” issue.  “We are all in this together, and when fortune turns against us, others are there to give us a helping hand. … Sometimes government has to step in.”

Saying that Republicans and Democrats joined together in 1965 when they created Medicare.

“When any efforts to help people in need are attacked as unAmerican … and we can no longer engage in a civil conversation” … I missed that last part.  Whatever his point was (I’m sure it was something about engaging in civil debate) – I agree here – we need to discuss it, not try to drown one side out.

“I still believe we can act when it’s hard.”  Saying we need to have “civility” and not gridlock the process but make progress.

“I still believe we can do great things, and that here and now we will meet history’s test.  Because that is who we are.  That is our calling.  That is our character.  Thank you, God Bless You, and may God Bless the United States of America.”

Now the Republican response by Representative Charles Boustany (R-LA):

Republicans are ready for reform.  We’ve lost jobs since February.  “Americans want health care reform … [They're saying] it’s time to start over with a … bipartisan plan.”

He’s saying that Obama’s plan will cost Americans more – that even the Congressional Budget Office agrees – it’ll create 53 new bureaus and raise the deficit.  It won’t make the program better for seniors.

“The President [could have] taken government run health care off the table, but he didn’t.”

Americans should be able to get insurance with preexisting conditions.  We should give incentives for healthy choices and preventative care.

“We’re grateful that the President mentioned medical liability reform.”  “Junk lawsuits drive up the cost of medical care.”

We should establish a plan that would enable people to buy insurance across state lines – and that was one of McCain’s big pushes during the ’08 campaign that I really agreed with.

“This Congress can pass meaningful reform soon … working together in a bipartisan way, we can lower the cost of health care.”

Alright – I wasn’t able to catch that much of the response because there weren’t any pauses in that speech, but it was basically the same thing that McCain said during his Presidential campaign.

Overall, I think the President did a moderately good job.  I wish he would’ve gone into detail a little more than he did, and there are some things that I definitely disagree with, but there were some good points:

Malpractice/tort reform is a huge part of the plan that will help lower costs of health care.  Eliminating waste in Medicaid and Medicare is another great thing that we need to do.  Ensuring a way that people can keep their coverage even when they get sick is another necessity that almost everybody agrees with.

I disagree with the public option, and I disagree with forcing people to have some sort of insurance plan.

I wish that he would consider adopting the plan to allow people to cross state borders to purchase health care plans.

Overall, it was a good speech, but I think he took a couple too many jabs at Republicans and the Bush administration (he’s going to need some Republicans’ votes, and that wasn’t a way to win them over).  I also wish he would’ve had more details of his plan, but with only having 45 minutes, that’s hard to do.

I’m not sold on the President’s plan, but I do think there are some good parts of the plan that I’d like to see develop.

We’ll see what’s introduced and what Congress does with the bill(s).

Done Analyzing,

Ranting Republican

Lucie Kim Frivolously Sues Miley Cyrus Over “Racist” Picture

February 16, 2009

Alright, so I heard about this story yesterday, and it really got my blood boiling.  Not because I’m terribly offended by Miley Cyrus, but because lawsuits in America have reached such an asinine stage.

Here’s what happened: Miley Cyrus offended some Asian Pacific Islanders by making “squinty eyes,” imitating someone who is Asian:

0202_miley_cyrus

The tabloids got that picture and kaboom! it’s all over the place.

Well, some idiot figured that they could make some money off of this.  And that idiot is Lucie J. Kim.  She filed a lawsuit in the Los Angeles superior court stating that every Asian Pacific Islander in L.A. County deserves $4,000 for civil rights violations because of that photo.  That totals $4 million.  Kim says in the suit that Cyrus “knew or should have known that her image would be publicly disseminated via the media, which Cyrus knew would focus on her private life, specifically TMZ [they're the ones who leaked it first].”  She also claims that Cyrus knew the face was “racist.”

Cyrus originally said she was “simply making a goofy face,” but later apologized.

Comedian Margaret Cho wrote a blog post about it (that’s available here: http://www.margaretcho.com/blog/2009/02/11/oh-miley.html), and the Organization of Chinese Americans (OCA) released the following statement:

The photograph of Miley Cyrus and other individuals slanting their eyes currently circulating the Internet is offensive to the Asian Pacific American community and sets a terrible example for her many young fans. This image falls within a long and unfortunate history of people mocking and denigrating individuals of Asian descent.

“Not only has Miley Cyrus and the other individuals in the photograph encouraged and legitimized the taunting and mocking of people of Asian descent, she has also insulted her many Asian Pacific American fans,” said George Wu, executive director of OCA. “The inclusion of an Asian Pacific American individual in the photo does not make it acceptable.”

“OCA hopes that Miley Cyrus will apologize to her fans and the APA community for this lapse in judgment and takes the opportunity to better understand why the gesture is offensive.”

OCA is a national organization dedicated to advancing the social, political and economic well-being of Asian Pacific Americans in the United States.

OK, so first off, anybody who needs $4,000 to make themselves feel better because of this picture really needs to spend that $4,000 on counselling to get some therapy and self esteem.  So, my message to Lucie Kim: GET SOME MENTAL HELP!  YOU NEED IT!  Uh oh, I’m gonna get sued now for being offensive to people with low self esteem.

Second, why is nobody yelling at the Asian kid in the picture?  He was going along with it.  He wasn’t mad that the people around him were “mocking” his heritage.  So, is he racist against Asian Pacific Islanders too, or is this another double standard similar to how African Americans can use the N-word?

I can deal with what the OCA said.  Sure, it was offensive, but honestly, I doubt that that many Asians really care.

What I can’t deal with is the greed and utter stupidity of Lucie Kim.  Kim is an idiot who’s trying to make a quick buck.  Go out and find a real way to make money, instead of trying to sue the crap out of a teenage girl for offending you.  And you know what, if you’re so desperate for money, I invite you to come here and talk to me.  If you can actually convince me that you deserve $4,000, I will personally give you $250.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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Wisconsin Court: Cheerleading Is a Contact Sport; Participants Can’t Be Sued for Accidents

January 28, 2009

Yesterday the Wisconsin Supreme Court unanimously ruled in a lawsuit brought by Brittany Noffke, a varsity basketball cheerleader at Holmen High School in western Wisconsin. While practicing a stunt for the first time before a basketball game in 2004, she fell backwards off the shoulders of another cheerleader and suffered a head injury.  She then filed a lawsuit against the 16-year-old male cheerleader who was supposed to be her spotter but failed to catch her, as well as the school district and its insurer.  Noffke claimed that the coach was negligent for failing to supervise the stunt and not making sure that mats were being used.  (The court ruling can be found here.)

Justice Annette Ziegler rejected Noffke’s argument that contact sports were limited to aggressive sports.  In her opinion, she wrote that lawmakers meant to limit liability for “any recreational activity that includes physical contact between persons in a sport involving amateur teams.”  Zeigler said that cheerleading involves “a significant amount of physical contact between the cheerleaders that at times results in a forceful interaction between the participants.”

This decision means that cheerleaders can only be sued for acting recklessly in causing injuries, and that Noffke’s teammate’s actions were only a mistake.

Ziegler also said that the district cannot be sued for the coach’s behavior under Wisconsin law that shields government agencies from lawsuits for the actions of employees.  The coach had no duty to make sure a spotter was in place or to provide mats and the stunt was not a “known and compelling danger,” the court said.

I have to say, when I saw the headline on the bottom of the TV: “Court rules cheerleading is contact sport,” I thought, “Come on, what’s this about!”  But as I read over the case and thought about it, the  court is right.  Nowhere in the law does it state that the contact has to be between members of different teams.  It’s a law meant to protect students from accidents (not negligence), and that’s what happened here.

If you fail to catch somebody, that’s not on purpose (normally).  It is possible to let somebody fall when you’re there to catch them, and that should be protected under the law.  Cheerleading isn’t a simple and easy sport, so I think the dangers do need to be carefully looked at, and if you take the risk of participating, you have to live with the fact that you might get injured.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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Detroit’s Bond Rating Now Matches the City: Junk Status!

January 8, 2009

Well, here’s more bad news for the city of Detroit: Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services downgraded the city’s bond ratings to junk status.  The ratings on approximately $2.4 billion of unlimited and limited tax debt were cut to BB.  They had formerly been BBB and BBB-, respectively.  S&P analyst Jane Hudson Ridley told reporters that the new rating “reflects a downward trend in some revenue sources that has made balancing operations difficult and the continued difficulty in assessing the city’s financial position, given its chronically late audits and its historical tendency to end the fiscal year with results that compare unfavorably with initial projections.”

The downgrade could mean higher interest rates for the city, but it also allows investors with which the city engaged in credit swap agreements to request a payout from the city.  That payout could total up to $400 million.

Meanwhile, Mayor Ken Cockrel Jr. told reporters, “We are resolved to ensure that Detroit is financially stable.”  Right.  I’m sure that means a lot to the citizens of the city who’s bond rating was just downgraded.  He later continued, saying, “Ultimately the only way to deal with the problem is to fix it.”  Yes, Mr. Mayor – the only way to fix a problem is to fix it.  Who elects these people?

Joseph Harris, the city’s chief financial officer told reporters that city officials are putting together a plan so that creditors won’t demand their money.  He said, “We won’t be able to come up with $400 million.  We don’t expect anyone to ask us for $400 million.  What we expect them to ask us for is some guarantees or some assurances.”

You mean guarantees like, “I didn’t cheat on my wife and cost the city millions of dollars in a whistle-blower lawsuit”?  Oh wait, those guarantees were false.

Irvin Corley Jr., the City Council’s fiscal analyst, told reporters, “I would think they would understand that the city is not in a position to come up with $400 million.”  So, wouldn’t that make them want their money ASAP even more?

The reason S&P downgraded the status, was that the city was turning in yearly audits late.  This comes after former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick had about S&P raising the city’s rating from negative to stable.  Cockrel shares a different sentiment, saying that S&P officials feel that they were deceived by the city.

Harris continued his chat with reporters, saying, “We’ve got to put together a budget whereby our revenues either equal or exceed our expenditures.”  HOLY CRAP!  A budget where you bring in more money than you spend?  IS THIS LEGAL???  The fact that the city’s CFO has to actually say that statement troubles me.  Isn’t it common knowledge that you’re expenditures should be lower than your revenues, otherwise you LOSE MONEY?  Seriously, where do these people come from?

Perhaps Councilwoman Sheila Cockrel will be able to enlighten us.  After telling reporters that this is “as serious as you can get,” she said that “We as a City Council, as a community and as a group of city leaders are going to have to address the fundamental restructuring of city government.”  That might have been the smartest thing any city official said on the issue.

But in all seriousness, this is just sad.  Sure, other cities (New Orleans, for example) are in the same situation, but that doesn’t excuse it.  The city of Detroit needs COMPLETE overhaul.  I still say Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson the Great should just annex Detroit and become Supreme Ruler of it so that he can clean it up a bit.  I don’t know, maybe I’m asking for too much.  Maybe a balanced budget just isn’t in the cards for Detroit.  Maybe Detroit’s fate dooms it to utter disaster.  But maybe, just maybe, this isn’t a problem of fate or stars or cards, but a problem with GOVERNMENT, a corrupt government to be exact.  If Detroit cleaned up it’s act, I guarantee that it could get a better bond rating.

But Detroit can’t do this when it’s citizens continue to vote scum like Kilpatrick into office.  Detroit, the blame, for now, rests on your own shoulders – it’s your dumb mistakes at the ballot box that cost you this time, and now, it’s up to you to fix it.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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Parents of 2 Suspended Cheerleaders File Lawsuit Over Nude Photos

December 8, 2008

Alright, so here’s a story I heard about that’s supposed to be featured on the news tonight, but I figured I’d go digging and just do the story now: On Monday the parents of two Bothell High School cheerleaders filed a lawsuit in the King County Superior Court against the Northshore School District (in Washington).  The suit alleges that school officials acted unfairly when they suspended the girls from the squad earlier this year after nude photos of the teens circulated through the student body via text messages.

Here’s the background on the case (according to the lawsuit):

  1. Summer, 2005: A topless photo of one of the cheerleaders is taken and sent to her then-boyfriend’s phone.
  2. Summer, 2005: The picture is accidentally sent to other BHS students.
  3. June, 2008: The other teen’s photo was taken when she and another cheerleader used their cell phones to take totally nude pictures of themselves.  Those photos were later accidentally sent to other BHS students.
  4. Shortly after the June pictures were taken: BHS school officials heard rumors the pictures were circulating the student body, especially within members of the football team, so the school sent a letter to all of the cheerleaders’ parents.  That letter said that if inappropriate photos were found, the consequences could be suspension from the squad.
  5. Football players were also told to delete the pictures from their cell phones if they received them
  6. August: BHS administrators received copies of both photos.
  7. Some dispute has arisen over who contacted the police first, and whether or not the school properly notified the girls’ parents about the photos.
  8. One girl is suspended from the squad for 30 days.  The other is suspended from the squad for the year.

Attorney Matthew King, representing both families, told reporters that  the lawsuits allege that BHS administrators violated the girls’ due process rights by needlessly sharing the photos with other school staff members and failing to promptly report the matter to police as child pornography.  King also said that it was unfair that the teens were suspended, but that football players and other BHS students who sent/received the texts were not punished.  King told reporters, “We’re not technically challenging the sanctions as being too strict, we’re saying they weren’t evenly enforced across the school.  There should have been some punishment meted out to those who were in possession of the photos. … It seems like the girls are getting the brunt of it.”  King wants the disciplinary action expunged from both girls’ school records.  Additionally, he wants the girl who was suspended for the whole year to be reinstated to the team, and he is demanding an apology from BHS officials for their lack of discipline on other students.

Northshore spokeswoman Susan Stoltzfus disagrees, saying that the school acted appropriately, reporting the photos to the police and giving the girls a chance to appeal their suspensions to both a disciplinary committee as well as the School Board, saying, “Everyone along the line agreed the discipline was appropriate.  Obviously, we take these things seriously, but we really don’t believe this [suit] has a lot of merit.”

King also claims that the district’s student handbook doesn’t specifically prohibit what the girls did, and that it doesn’t outline outline potential disciplinary action for a case like this.  He told reporters, “My clients fully realize what they did was stupid,” and that they never wanted the photos to be distributed.  King said that he still does not know how they were accidentally sent out.

Northshore officials again disagree, saying that the girls violated the district’s athletic code  According to Stoltzfus, “When you sign up to be a cheerleader–or for any student activity–you agree to certain codes of behavior.We consider them student leaders, and we want them to be role models.”

I took a look at the athletic code, and although it doesn’t expressly prohibit the production or distribution of child pornography (or any pornography), it does state the following:

Northshore School District
Student Athletic Code

The opportunity to participate in the athletic program in the Northshore School District is a privilege available to all students. Because of the public nature of athletic programs sponsored by the district, students choosing to participate are expected to conduct themselves at all times during their season of participation and between consecutive seasons in a manner that will reflect the high standards and ideals of their school and community. These high personal standards for conduct promote maximum achievement, safe performances, commitment to excellence in health and conditioning, and fulfill responsibilities as student leaders by setting a positive example for other students.

The regulations below are included in the Addendum of the Statement of Rights and Responsibilities Concerning Pupil Conduct. In addition to this Code of Conduct, individual schools may establish other expectations specific to their own individual programs.

Students must meet the standards for interscholastic eligibility as outlined in Article 18 of the Washington Interscholastic Athletic Association handbook, the KINGCO League and the Northshore School District and their individual school. Copies of these rules and regulations may be obtained from the school Athletic Director upon request.

The expectations for being a participant in a schoolʼs athletic program, including specific eligibility requirements, training rules and team rules shall be communicated to team members at the beginning of the season of participation. All program expectations and team rules shall be in writing.

Any athlete in a District-sponsored athletic activity who willfully performs any act that substantially interferes with or is detrimental to the orderly operation of the Districtʼs athletic programs shall be subject to discipline. As participants in extracurricular programs, students are faced with choices. If a studentʼs choices interfere, impede, hinder their personal or group/team performance or render the individual as unfit to serve as a representative(s) of the districtʼs schools, they forfeit the privilege to participate. Misconduct by participants in the athletic program at any time, on or off campus, school related and/or non-school activities during the season of participation and between consecutive seasons of participation constitutes cause for discipline including denial of participation in and/or removal from the athletic program. Seasons begin with the first turnout and conclude with the season ending recognition/awards program in the individual sport.

II. Consequences for Athletic Code violations;

A. Student Athletic Code violations are accumulative during grades seven and eight and then again in grades nine through twelve. Any ninth grade student shall be considered a high school student.

B. Consequences for specific violations:
Probation is a period of time in which an athlete may be given time to correct deficiencies that could result in denial of participation for a given period of time or removal from athletic team participation. Denial of participation means that the athlete is allowed to practice but not compete in games. The loss of athletic eligibility, which may carry over to subsequent sports seasons, means the athlete will not participate in interscholastic competition or be in uniform. During the period when a student is assigned a suspension from school, the student is not eligible for any form of participation or attendance at school activities including athletic program participation.

So, although it doesn’t expressly ban what the girls did, I think what they did falls s under “any act that substantially interferes with or is detrimental to the orderly operation of the Districtʼs athletic programs.”

So, where do I stand?  I stand on the side of the girls; however, I disagree with what they want done.  I agree that BHS officials were way too easy on pretty much everybody other than the 2 girls.  I think that the girls should be suspended (or have other disciplinary action taken against them) for failing to follow the athletics agreement.  In addition, ANYBODY who possessed the pictures (other than the administrators, who I’ll discuss in a minute) should have been charged with possession of child pornography, and should have had disciplinary action taken against them if they were in a sport (but it had to be a sport that was in season at that time).  Obviously, it would have to be proved that the person kept the pictures.  I wouldn’t charge anybody just because they received the pictures.  The administrators, if they really did report it to the police, did nothing wrong.  HOWEVER, if additional copies were passed around for no reason, those responsible should be charged with possession and distribution of child pornography.  I do think that BHS officials are wrong in not punishing the football team and other students; however, the way to solve this is NOT to expunge the records of the girls, but to punish ALL who were responsible.

EDIT: I’ve been talking with some people about this, and the argument has come up that perhaps the girls were of age so that it wasn’t child pornography.  In addition to the fact that the names are not being released because the girls are minors, I found this photograph from July 4th, 2005, courtesy of the Woodinville Rotary Club.  Now, of course this isn’t official, but to me, none of those girls looks 18 (except maybe the one on the left in the front row).  Additionally, the one picture was taken in 2005, so we’re guaranteed that that girl wasn’t 18 when the picture was taken:

bothell_parade_07_04_05_019_-_bhs_cheerleaders

Done Ranting,

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Illinois City Bans Trick-or-Treating for Teenagers

October 27, 2008

Well, this is about the most ridiculous thing I’ve heard in a while.  Belleville, Illinois passed an ordinance last Monday that restricted trick-or-treating.  That sounds normal, right, most cities limit the time that kids can trick-or-treat.  But the city isn’t just limiting when; they’re also limiting who can trick-or-treat.  And it also limits the wearing of masks, to only Halloween (unless you’re under 12).

Here’s an overview of the ordinance (unfortunately, Belleville is a little slow in uploading their meeting minutes, and all they have right now is a copy of the agenda, so this isn’t the exact wording of the ordinance):

  • Limits trick-or-treating on Halloween from 5:00 P.M. until 8:30 P.M.
  • Bans anyone in above the 8th grade (anybody older than 13 or 14) from trick-or-treating on Halloween, unless they are a “special-needs” child, and then they must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.
  • Allows children age 12 and under to wear a mask and/or disguise any day of the year, but restricts anyone above 12 to being able to wear a mask and/or disguise only on Halloween.
  • Prohibits any and all child sex offenders from going to any event and/or holding any event for Halloween where any child (other than his/her own) will be present. Child sex offenders must also turn out their outside lights on Halloween night, and they are banned from handing out candy.

OK, so bullet points 1 and 4 I have no problem with.  It’s 2 and 3 that I have an issue with.

But before I go on, let me give you some quotes that Mayor Mark Eckert told reporters:

We believe that Halloween is for little children.  We just feel that we need to go that extra mile to protect the children.

We were hearing more and more about bigger kids knocking on doors after 9:00 at night and the people who lived in the homes were scared.  The seniors were especially scared.  They didn’t want to be the recipient of some kind of trick, but they didn’t want to open their doors late at night, either.

Sexual predators can’t have parties.  It’s not right, it’s wrong.  They lost that privilege.

OK, so I get the principle behind this, but here’s where you have a problem: Those teenagers out after 9:00 P.M. would be out past the overall curfew anyway, so they’d already be breaking the law.  What is the need for another law here?  If they’re out past 8:30, they can be arrested (I’m assuming that’s the punishment).  So that right there would solve your teenagers out late problem.  Banning trick-or-treating for anybody above the 8thgrade is simply ageism.  You cannot discriminate against somebody like this.  I’ll accept a curfew (although I have problems with those at times too), but to ban outright the practice of trick-or-treating for ANYBODY (other than felons who lose some rights when they’re convicted) is discrimination, and in my view, illegal!

Now, the mask/disguise ordinance.  You’re telling me that a 16-year-old kid can’t wear a mask outside at a Halloween party the night before Halloween (Devil’s Night if you live here in Detroit)?  Or what if a Star Trek convention comes to Belleville?  Are you telling me that masks aren’t allowed?  It’s ridiculous!  Unfortunately, without the ordinance I don’t have the city’s legal definition of “disguise” but would this apply to people dressed up as Santa Clause?  Are you going to haul away the Salvation Army Santa for being in a “disguise” on a day other than Halloween?  It’s dumb.  It restricts the Freedom of Speech (this isn’t a dress code in school we’re talking about here – this is just being out in PUBLIC generally!)!  It’s asinine, ridiculous, and it’s unconstitutional.

I hope somebody old goes out and trick-or treats, or wears a mask the day after Halloween so that this can be taken to court and overturned.  I’m a Law and Order Conservative – I abide by the laws.  I don’t speed.  I don’t drink underage.  I’ve never stolen a candy bar.  But when the law goes against Constitutional principles, it MUST be disobeyed so that it can be challenged in court, and this is one time where I say, “Break that law!”

Done Ranting

Ranting Republican
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Federal Judge Orders Ohio Secretary of State to Purge Voter Rolls

October 10, 2008

Today, U.S. District Judge George C. Smith ruled in a suit filed by the Ohio Republican Party filed in September.  He ruled that Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner (Dem) must adhere to the Help America Vote Act by matching newly registered voters’ information against the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles and/or Social Security Administration databases.  She must alo tell the Board of Elections which voters’s registration info doesn’t match the databases.  Brunner was also ordered to establish a process by which county election boards could do the sameSmith wrote in his ruling (unfortunately I can’t get the whole thing), “Plaintiffs assert, and the court agrees, that it is hard to imagine a public interest more compelling than safeguarding the legitimacy of the election of the president of the United States.”

Ohio Republican Party Deputy Chairman Kevin DeWine told reporters, “For some reason, Jennifer Brunner does not want these new registrations checked.  Her refusal to comply with federal law raises serious concerns about her ability to objectively oversee this election.”

Meanwhile, Brunner is appealing the ruling (the appeal was filed by Ohio Attorney General Nancy Rogers (Dem) on Brunner’s behalf), saying that this ruling will inhibit voters from casting absentee ballots at the Board of Elections, since parties could get lists of voters who don’t match up with the databases and challenge the validity of those votes.  Brunner told reporters, “My office will do everything within its power to ensure that the state’s 88 county boards of elections can continue to allow early voting to proceed and to assist them with their preparation to ensure a smooth election for the voters of Ohio.”

With all of the stuff that’s going on with ACORN, I say that this is a great ruling.  I want everybody to be able to vote, but people should only be voting once (that’s not what the NAACP will say about voters in Detroit – they want all African Americans to be able to vote, even the dead ones!).  There’s no reason that this should keep any LEGAL voters from voting.  It’s a good ruling, and I hope it’s upheld by the next court.  Unfortunately, the deadline to challenge absentee ballots is coming up soon, so there fraudulent votes may make it through, and that’s a shame.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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Connecticut Supreme Court Overturns Gay Marriage Ban

October 10, 2008

The Connecticut Supreme Court has just ruled in a lawsuit, filed by 8 gay couples back in 2004, on gay marriage.  The Court has overturned the state’s ban on gay marriage, making Connecticut the third state to allow gay marriage (Massachusetts and California being the other 2).  I’ll have an overview of the Court’s opinion once it’s out later.

Done Reporting,

Ranting Republican
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Teachers Sue Detroit Public Schools for Firing Them Illegally and Disobeying a Court Order

July 17, 2008

Here’s a story that I wanted to break last night, but because I only heard 2/3 of the story when the 2 teachers went on the radio, I decided to hold off until a newspaper article was printed, so I could catch the whole story.

The husband and wife teachers, Steve Conn and Heather Miller are suing the Detroit Public Schools (DPS) “to finally put an end to the Detroit Board of Education’s witch hunt against them.”  They claim that they “have had to endure” a “yearlong attack … at the hands of the board and DPS administration and [violations of] their First Amendment rights of free speech.”

The pair was accused of allowing students to be put in danger during a protest against school closings that the pair participated in at Northern High School in May of 2007, according to (at the time) school board president Carla Scott.  DPS spokesman Steve Wasko said, “These are two individuals who knowingly and against parental permission took children out of school and put their safety at risk.”

Doyle O’Connor, an administrative law judge for the Michigan Employment Relations Commission, ordered DPS “to cease interfering with employees’ rights to pursue grievances, hold union office or participate in lawful public protests.” (Source: Detroit News)

DPS ignored that ruling and fired the teachers, who had previously been placed on administrative leave.

One quote that I did get while listening to the radio (WJR 760) was from Steve Conn: “DPS is not above the law.  They must follow the judge’s order and put us back into the classroom.  This is going to end up costing the district millions of dollars it simply cannot afford, all because a few board members want to silence us and stop us from exposing the conditions in the schools.”

And I ABSOLUTELY agree.  This is the reason that DPS is broke.  It’s people like Connie Calloway who refuse to admit when they’ve made a mistake (or when they’re wrong), and they’re driving the system into the ground.  They waste money on stupid court cases like this.  So they go more into debt, meaning that they cut more schools and teachers, meaning that more kids leave, so they get less money, so they go more into debt…

It’s a cycle that’s never going to end until Detroit as a whole gets its act together and shapes up.  Either that or annex it to Oakland County, give L. Brooks Patterson sole control over it (so no Detroit government whatsoever), but Detroiters would never go for that “because people like Kwame are our friends.”  Bull crap.  Half the Detroiters (the half that reelected Kwame after all the scandals he had in his first term), DESERVE what’s happening now.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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Central Michigan University Impliments a Ban on Professors Running for Public Office, Including Congressional Candidate Gary Peters

May 19, 2008

This is part 2 in a weekly series on the race for Michigan’s 9th Congressional District.  This was supposed to be a post about fundraising, but we’ve had some interesting developments come up in the past week.  Central Michigan University proposed a policy that would go in effect on July 1st, that would require “full-time employees of the university … to either resign or take an unpaid leave of absence when they comply with candidacy filing requirements, 60 days prior to the date set forth for the election relating to the sought-after public office, whichever date is closer to the elections” (source: CM-Life).

The CM-Life reported that this policy was implemented as a result of the Gary Peters issue: “It’s a political year and questions were raised about political candidates (on campus). … That’s when the questions began, in relation to the Gary Peters reaction, but it goes deeper than that.  The university realized the need for a policy.” ~~Steve Smith, Director of Media Relations

There are some exceptions to the new policy:

  • Candidates for unpaid or temporary offices
    • Municipal charter revision commissions
    • Delegate to constitutional conventions
    • Positions on a city or county board where the position is unpaid
  • Candidates for any part-time local offices where the position would not demand work during university-working hours

Smith said that the policy is not final, saying, “We are still waiting on input from the on-campus community.”

Contrary to what I had heard earlier (as I will explain later), the faculty union will be subject to this policy.

Now, I had heard about this policy being in the making back in late April.  I had been told by somebody inside of CMUthat this policy would not apply to faculty who are union members because their contract would have to be reworked through the union, and the union would never let this happen, so instead of fighting with those faculty members, they were just going to leave them exempt.

Dennis Lennox, former Student’s Against Gary Peters spokesman told the  CM-Life, “I think it’s a great proposal that should have been implemented months ago.  This is a victory for students and tax payers who wanted to hold Gary Peters accountable.  It’s a huge vindication.  It’s just unfortunate it took 10 months and a whole host of horrible events for this resolution to occur.”

Now, how does this affect the race for the 9th District?  Well, as I’m sure you all know, Gary Peters obviously falls under this policy.  He will either have to resign or take a leave of absence.

What do I think?  I think the policy is completely stupid, but I think it will stand in court.  From what I’ve seen, since CMU gets federal money, the policy can legally fall as an extension under the Hatch Act of 1939, which has been held up in 2 Supreme Court cases.

Personally, I think this is a violation of free speech.

Ideally, CMU would have a policy that would allow professors to run for office but make sure that no time or resources that belong to CMU are used.

I don’t know if Peters will resign or take a leave of absence, or if he’ll challenge it.  The source that talked to me in late April told me that he/she thought that the ACLU might get involved.  Now that it applies to union faculty members, I think the union will fight back as well, which is a great help for their cause.  They could turn this into quite a battle.  Of course, if they went on strike, I would consider that way over the line and probably add them to my long list of hated unions.

I’ll keep you updated if any more news comes out about the policy.  Next week (maybe), I’ll be talking about fundraising.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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