Memorial Day 2015: Never Forget

Soldier, rest! Thy warfare o’er,
Sleep the sleep that knows not breaking,
Dream of battled fields no more.
Days of danger, nights of waking.
-Sir Walter Scott

Begun on the 30th of May 1868, Decoration Day began as a way to honor those who died during the War Between the States. That war killed 623,026 total from both sides of the conflict, the costliest war in this great nations existence. (Source)

The first state to officially recognize the holiday was New York in 1873. By 1890 it was recognized by all of the northern states. The South refused to acknowledge the day, honoring their dead on separate days until after World War I (when the holiday changed from honoring just those who died fighting in the Civil War to honoring Americans who died fighting in any war).
It is now observed in almost every state on the last Monday in May with Congressional passage of the National Holiday Act of 1971 (P.L. 90 – 363). (Source)

Each generation of Americans has experienced the effects of war and, based on my observations of the human condition, will continue to do so.

When I think of this day each year, I am reminded of the men I’ve known who gave their all. I also then feel the weight of all the sorrow that those men’s deaths caused for so many in their families and friends.

We must never forget the sacrifices of our fallen.

The greatest glory of a free-born people is to transmit that freedom to their children.
-William Havard

“Dead Man Walking” An Enlightened Perspective

Since the 23 Apr scheduled Texas execution for Richard Vasquez was stayed, I thought instead I would post a fascinating article by John Nantz at Townhall.

To preface the article, I have found it fascinating and troubling over the past decade to encounter the various arguments opposed to the death penalty. I concluded many years ago that whether they were people with uninformed good intentions or intentionally determined to destroy society, the result is still the same.

The anti-DP arguers often make reference to Christianity and that we should be forgiving, or mock those of us who are Christian and fully support execution. Many won’t refer to the Old Testament and instead focus on the life and teachings of Jesus, while ignoring or never realizing Christ himself stated clearly that he did not abrogate God’s laws that came before him.

That said, there are some fascinating Biblical references in the Nantz article, which can be found HERE.

For me, this quote by a man that has had to deal with his sister’s murder is worthy of recognition:

“But I believe the gift of life and freedom he took from my sister precludes him from ever being allowed to enjoy that gift for himself,”

Execution Watch: Manuel Fernando Garza, Jr. (TX)*Updated*

garza

 

 

 

 

 

 
*UPDATES*
Last Meal: For his last meal, Garza had a grilled pork chop, sweet potatoes, green beans, black beans, cornbread, and peach cake, with a choice of water, tea, or punch to drink.(per Last Suppers Book)
Last Words: Garza said he was sorry for causing pain to his family, friends and “especially police officers.”
“Y’all probably hate me,” he said, looking at three friends of his victim, dressed in their navy blue San Antonio police uniforms. He wished them “peace and love and hope y’all find God like I have and I’ll see you on the other side.”

*Thug: Manuel Garza, Jr(20 at time of offense)
*Date of Execution: April 15, 2015
*Date of Crime: February 2, 2001
*Victim: John “Rocky” Riojas, 37 (San Antonio police officer)
*Last Meal and Last Words TBA

Some time after 6p.m. CDT this cop killer will cease to exist. Unfortunately for the family of Officer Riojas they have received a life sentence of sorrow due to the murder. It has been fourteen years since Officer Riojas was murdered, his daughter was two years old and his son eight weeks at the time. Mrs. Riojas has not married again.

HERE is a nice piece on Officer Riojas and the effect it has had on so many.

HERE is the Texas Attorney General’s media advisory for Garza’s execution. Make note of the lengthy criminal history for such a young man, the future looked bleak for the citizens of Texas had this cretin not been stopped.

At this time there are no known last minute appeals, the procedural process seems to have reached its conclusion and Garza will become the sixth murderer to be executed in Texas this year.

My sincerest best wishes for the Riojas family and the SAPD. May this service of justice assuage some of the agony they have endured for the past fourteen years.

Execution Watch: Kent Sprouse (TX)*Updated*

sprouse

officer steinfeldt

 

 

 

 

 

*UPDATES*
*Last Meal: Since death row inmates there are no longer allowed to order special last meals, Sprouse was given the same food as others in his unit. For his last meal, Sprouse had beef noodle casserole, peas & carrots, black beans, and cornbread, with a choice of punch, tea, or water to drink.(per Last Suppers Book)
*Last Words: He apologized to the families of slain Ferris police officer Marty Steinfieldt and Pedro Moreno, an innocent bystander who was also killed in the 2002 shooting spree, “for all the trouble I have caused them.” He also apologized to his own family.

“I guess that’s it,” he said. (per WFAA)

*Thug: Kent William Sprouse
*Date of Execution: 9 Apr 2015
*Date of Crimes: 6 Oct 2002
*Victims: Police Officer Harry Marvin “Marty” Steinfeldt III, 28 / Pedro Moreno, 38
*Last Words and Last Meal TBA.

Sometime after 6p.m.Central, this murderer will be given final justice. It hasn’t taken as long as too many others on death row to reach this point. All his appeals to the various courts have been denied and with the Supreme Court refusing to even hear his plea it seems certain Sprouse will soon be no more.

His conviction and sentence can be summed up in this statement he made shortly after he murdered Officer Steinfeldt:

Court records indicate that Sprouse told an officer who accompanied him to a hospital that he believed Moreno was an undercover officer, so he shot him.

“And I shot the other officer that was in uniform,” Sprouse said, according to the records.(Source)

There was some gum-flapping that he was insane after using methamphetamine, but he took responsibility for his actions to follow before he used illicit drugs and clearly understood what he had done afterward.

HERE is another article that addresses his use of meth.

As for the pentobarbital supply, the TDCJ received a fresh batch on 25 Mar 15 and should be an adequate supply for the next three executions set for this month.

My sincerest best wishes for the family of Officer Steinfeldt and his fellow officers.

Happy 60th Birthday Chevy Small Block V8

sbc

I came across an excellent article celebrating the birthday of this fantastic engine.  Whether or not you are a gear head or a fan of another car maker, your life has been impacted by the small block Chevy V8.

It has powered family vehicles, hot rods, commercial vehicles, boats and even motorcycles.  Revolutionary in its design, made possible by numerous advances in technology and fuels after WWII, the basic design of the engine is still being used in the modern version.

While most car companies have turned to the overhead cam engine designs to actuate the valves, the SBC V8 continues to use the push rod design and has managed to maintain an efficient and powerful engine that produces more torque than the OHC design.

Personally, I have owned numerous vehicles powered with the SBC V8 and have never had a problem with them.

May the “Mighty Mouse” engine live on for decades to come.

The article mentioned can be found HERE. It is well worth the read.

Execution Watch: Manuel Vasquez(TX) *UPDATED*

I have to apolgize for not posting on the last execution, Donald Newbury, which took place on 4 Feb 15. Work this year has been demanding.

Tonight’s scheduled execution looks like it will go forward, unlike so many stays we have seen recently.vasquez

*Thug: Manuel Vasquez(29 at time of offense)
*Date of execution: 11 March 2015
*Date of crime: 19 Mar 1998
*Victim: Juanita Ybarra (female, 51)
*Last Meal: For his last meal, Vasquez was served Pepper Steak, mashed potatoes, brown gravy, carrots, ranch style beans, sliced bread, and apple glazed cake, with a choice of water, tea, or punch to drink.(per Last Suppers Book)
*Last Words: thanked ‘the Lord for his kind mercy, faithfulness and unconditional love.’ ‘In Jesus’ name I pray,’ he said, then told the warden: ‘I’m ready.

After a violent criminal history in his short life, this contract killer for the Mexican Mafia will finally face justice some time after 6p.m. CST.

The media advisory from the State AG can be found here.
His criminal history was not only a violent one, it was extensive:

During the punishment phase, the State presented evidence regarding Vasquez’s violent criminal history, including (1) Vasquez’s receiving a 10-year sentence for aggravated assault for his role in the Aug. 31, 1986, death of Robert Alva during which Vasquez (along with his younger brother and others) choked Alva with a belt, beat him with a crowbar, kicked him, and set him on fire after dousing him with gasoline; (2) Vasquez’s commission of robbery by threats on Aug. 31, 1986, for which he received one year probation; (3) Vasquez’s March 5, 1992, execution style murder of drug dealer Richard Pacheco in retaliation for Pacheco’s failure to pay the [organized crime gang]’s “tax” on proceeds from the sale of illegal drugs; (4) Vasquez’s nearly fatal stabbing of Hector Zacharias on May 31, 1992, and resultant conviction and 8-year sentence for attempted murder; and (5) Vasquez’s participation with several other individuals in a series of burglaries and a pair of unsolved robberies committed in September – October 1996.

The State also presented evidence regarding Vasquez’s potential for future dangerousness. A Bexar County Sheriff’s Department officer testified that Vasquez was “a disruptive, violent, aggressive and dangerousness inmate” who was kept in segregation or isolation for the entire period in jail as a result of his assaultive behavior towards staff and inmates. Vasquez continued to associate with an organized criminal organization while he was awaiting trial for capital murder and was found in possession of a letter from a general of the criminal organization and a pair of treaties executed by the criminal organization with other prison gangs. Finally, while Vasquez was incarcerated at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, he obtained disciplinary actions for possessing a weapon, inciting a riot, and engaging in a fight.

The details of the crime he is being executed for is as follows:

On June 10, 1998, a Bexar County grand jury indicted Vasquez for the March 19, 1998, capital murder of Juanita Ybarra, charging that Vasquez intentionally killed Ybarra by strangling her with a ligature(a telephone cord) while in the course of committing and attempting to commit the offense of robbery.

Vasquez was attempting to collect a ten percent tax on Ybarra’s drug sales for the Mexican Mafia, a “dime” as they call it.

Finally, his violent criminal history that began almost thirty years ago(as far as we know) will come to an end. Our state and our cities will be just a little safer.

For Vasquez, the words from our old friend Robbie ring true…”Some people are just no damn good.”

I Love Football, Which Is Why I Despise The NFL

I always find it interesting when I meet someone from the North East area of this country and ask them if they are football fans. It is a set-up by me, as I know what they will say. They invariably talk about the NFL and expect to get in a jab at me by mentioning the Dallas Cowboys. The looks on their faces when I tell them I don’t follow the NFL, because I love football, is priceless.

I love football, which to me means high school and college. The NFL is just Hollywood and is as equally morally bankrupt,

I will elaborate, and whether you agree with me or not I think you can at least follow my reasoning.

My interest in football began fifty nine years ago. Football then was very different than today in terms of the rules, popularity and the player’s size and speed. Regardless of those changes it is still a physically violent game based on team goals.
As a young boy I admired the best players and teams at every level of play, and while the NFL was still in its infancy it too was played by men who loved the game and not money, as the sport didn’t pay very well.

As time went by the game has gotten more popular, at every level, and the potential for a very small group of men to make enormous amounts of money at the professional level has made it an attractive goal for the youngest football players.

I followed the NFL from the mid 1950’s until the NFL finally turned me away in 1993. I saw the very first nationally televised NFL Championship game between the NY Giants and the Baltimore Colts in 1958.

I can no longer support the NFL because of what it is, a morally bankrupt organization that I refuse to contribute to, as I will make no purchase of any product that displays the NFL’s official logo, nor will I watch their games. On what has become a national holiday of sorts, “Super Bowl Sunday,” I always tune into the “Puppy Bowl” on Animal Planet channel.
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