Monday, January 26, 2009

Rod Blagojevich: Crazy Like A Fox or Just Crazy?

When I turned on The View today, I was taken a little by surprise. Part of it was seeing Barbara Walters “sitting” at the table with Whoopi, Joy, and Sherri. But she wasn’t really sitting there, they had a large TV screen there in her place, with her appearing remotely. It reminded me of the animated Fox show from years back – “Futurama” – where they used to have those famous heads in the jars. It was, well, weird. But Barbara was there because she was going to do a remote interview of Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich on the show. You see, Blagojevich decided to go on The View rather than stay in his home state while his impeachment hearings were being conducted.

Blagojevich had also appeared that day on NBC’s Today Show in a taped interview, and also earlier in the day on ABC’s Good Morning America. Clearly he wants to take his case to the people, seeing that he thinks he is being shut out of his own impeachment proceedings. He insists that he did nothing wrong, and thinks he cannot get a fair hearing in Illinois because he is unable to call witnesses on his behalf, who he believes can clear him.

According to CNN, Blagojevich missed deadlines this month for answering the impeachment charge and for filing a motion to dismiss, a spokesman for Illinois Senate President John Cullerton has said.”

Clearly, Blagojevich thinks that he can do better for himself by bringing his case directly to the public. I have to admit that his claims made me go back to look at the impeachment process. So in that aspect, Blagojevich may have made his point that someone can be impeached without apparently having a formal hearing where the person can present a defense. But what he forgets is that impeachment doesn’t necessarily mean he will be removed from office. In essence, it’s similar to an indictment process for criminal trials; it’s just a step in the process. President Bill Clinton was impeached, yet he remained in office and carried out his duties, as no further action was taken to remove him from office.

But while Blagojevich may be raising awareness of what may seem unfair about the impeachment process, he loses points for evading the issue when asked for simple answers on what he really did say. He continues to say that when all the facts are presented by relaying the full content of his conversations, the context of his comments will help vindicate him. For me, seeing Blagojevich’s need to state his case to any major media outlet that will listen, I’d have to say he doth protest too much. I also believe that where there is smoke there is fire, and it will be very hard in my mind for Blagojevich to be able to put some of his recorded comments in context to the point that they would vindicate him.

Now he’s had his chance to state his case to the public, I think at this point he needs to zip it. If he feels his rights are being violated, he needs to get an attorney and file his complaint through legal channels. Maybe if he’d done that earlier, he wouldn’t have missed a chance to make his motion to dismiss.

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Monday, January 19, 2009

Barack Obama and Managing Expectations

With the inauguration of Barack Obama to the highest office in the land – President of the United States – his clock starts ticking to turn the country’s economic situation around. But he has already been working to manage expectations. In his latest speech on Sunday at the Lincoln Memorial (transcript here) he made his latest comment on the issue:

I won't pretend that meeting any one of these challenges will be easy. It will take more than a month or a year, and it will likely take many. Along the way there will be setbacks and false starts and days that test our fundamental resolve as a nation. But despite all of this - despite the enormity of the task that lies ahead - I stand here today as hopeful as ever that the United States of America will endure - that the dream of our founders will live on in our time.

While the country is becoming swept up into all the inauguration excitement and the pomp and circumstance, we all have to be cautious that we don’t expect the Obama administration to fix everything immediately. The economic problem the country is experiencing right now did not occur overnight, possibly even getting its beginnings in the Clinton administration and picking up a full head of steam with the Bush administration. I place a lot of blame on Alan Greenspan, whose tenure dates back to the Reagan administration, and who may have set interest rates too low and for too long during the George W. Bush administration.

We must give our new president the time he needs to make things right. How long? I have no idea. The United States didn’t pull out of the Great Depression overnight, and I suspect that while we may see some signs of recovery within the first year, I think there will still be some hard times ahead for at least Obama’s first full term. My biggest concern is with Congress, which has historically served as a roadblock to many good things that would serve the country well. If we hold anyone’s feet to the fire, it should be them.

But we also need to look at ourselves to look to make change. People must stop living beyond their means. Even if credit loosens, people should still be cautious and not spend money that they know they don’t have. The era of “he who dies with the most toys, wins” is over.

The inauguration doesn’t mean the work is over. It is only just the beginning.

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Monday, January 12, 2009

Ann Coulter “Guilty” of Being The Vilest Woman in American (Maybe The World?)

Guilty - of being vile?
Ann Coulter is hitting the talk and news show circuit in order to promote her book, “Guilty.” Yet each time she opens her mouth, the only person I can find guilty is Coulter herself - guilty of being vile and despicable.

Part of the latest brouhaha started when the Drudge Report had claimed that The Today Show had canceled her appearance and banned her for life because of their liberal media bias and comments made in her book. Coulter appeared on the Hannity & Colmes show prior to her originally scheduled Today Show appearance and talks openly about NBC’s action in booting her from The Today Show which she seems to think is a setup: (See video, more afterwards.)

Coulter on Hannity & Colmes

Of course, when NBC's The Today Show called the bluff and had her on the day after her originally scheduled appearance, she denied saying that she made any such comments, saying "I didn't say that. That was from a reliable news report that, by the way, has never had to retract a report on exploding GM NBC." She added, "It apparently took the 'Today' show eight hours to remember that there was a Wednesday show that I could be invited back to." But Coulter went on to show what I think is her intolerant side in this video: (more after the video.)

Ann Coulter on The Today Show January 9, 2009

She then went on to CBS’s Early Show and continued her style of being close-minded and intolerant. In fact, at one point, she goes on and on so much that Harry Smith has to repeatedly tell her to “take a breath”: (more after the video)

CBS Early Show January 9, 2009

And today on ABC's The View, the whole panel – even Elizabeth at one point - was on the attack, clearly disgusted with Coulter’s intolerant view of things. They took exception to her rigid opinions on single mothers, who Coulter seems to blame for all crime in America, and said she had the statistics to support her views. At the very end, a clearly annoyed Whoopi Goldberg said to Coulter something like “You can dish it out but you can't take it, can you?” Here's the video:

It’s obvious that Coulter doesn’t seem to care who she alienates, because she thinks all this TV exposure will help sell her books. Coulter’s books may appear to be best sellers, but one has to watch the “bulk sales” numbers, which often come from specific groups who buy the books to distribute as “freebies” or incentives. Of course, I would imagine even the staunchest Republicans may be getting tired of Coulter’s increasing escalation of extreme intolerance and divisiveness. Personally, I think the party is going to begin to distance themselves from Coulter. As Elizabeth Hasselbeck’s recent trip to the White House to visit with the president was featured on The View the same day of Coulter’s appearance, I found myself wondering if the likes of Hasselbeck is what the Republican party prefer to have as an unofficial representative? With the trouncing that the party received in the last presidential election, it would not be a surprise that they would want a kindler, gentler woman to be their torch bearer than the harsh, closed-minded Coulter.

After seeing Coulter's recent television appearances, I think that I have officially become sick of her and the ugliness of what she represents. She may have a valid opinion somewhere in what she says, but it is certainly hard to find them when she seems hell bent on pointing fingers at everyone else. She may be the vilest woman in America, and I think the tide is turning against her and others with her closed-minded opinions. Hopefully her book will do nothing but gather dust, eventually to end up in someone’s recycle bin. That may be the only good it would ever offer.

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Saturday, January 10, 2009

Blagojevich Impeachment – It Should Have Come Sooner

Sometimes our government agencies – local, state, and federal – move at a snail’s pace. The news release on Friday January 9 that Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich was impeached was welcome news. But the Illinois elected officials took way too long to take this action. Their delay allowed Blagojevich to appoint a replacement for Barack Obama’s senate seat - Roland Burris. Mr. Burris may be a very capable person, but his appointment by a man who allegedly was trying to sell the senate seat and who was arrested for his actions certainly can cast doubt on Burris’s worthiness for the job. As I mentioned here in early December, I think we need to change the whole process of allowing a governor, or any one person, to appoint replacements for senate and congressional seats.

But the secondary part of this issues is the fact that the Illinois state government seemed to move at a snail’s pace. Blagojevich was arrested in early December and released on bail, and it seems it took the state officials a month to decide to impeach him. Sure, a person is innocent until proven guilty, but maybe the standards should be set just a little higher for our elected officials.

My opinion is that if you are an elected official and are arrested or indicted for a crime – ANY crime – then the people should have the right to suspend potions of your authorities immediately. And by immediately I don’t mean it should take a month to do it. Our elected officials must find a more expedient way to protect their constituents from other elected officials who are not operating within the confines of the law. We can’t afford a government that moves like molasses and makes life just as sticky!

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Monday, January 5, 2009

The Israeli-Hamas-Gaza Mess: One We Need To Keep Out Of

The Israeli-Hamas conflict/war that erupted over the New Year is just another battle in a long line of battles that have taken place in that region over the last several decades. If I understand things correctly, this current situation started with Hamas firing rockets into southern Israel, and the Israelis are retaliating in an attempt to shut down the tunnels and areas that Hamas is using to move its weaponry.

I have to admit, though, when I first heard of trouble in this area, my brain immediately shut down. It seems that for several decades there have been problems in this region, and I think I have become deaf to hearing about them. In fact, I am not even sure any more what these people have been fighting about over all these years because the reasons seem to change. Is it a simple dispute over whom the land belongs to? Is it a religious conflict due to intolerance of the faith of all the inhabitants in the area? Is it simply a long fueled hatred between people whose ancestors and theirs before them for centuries have never seen eye-to-eye? Someone told me long ago that the conflict between Arab and Israeli began centuries ago over disputes about land and water.

The truth is, anytime I try to find information on this subject, it is hard to find anything that isn’t slanted or biased one way or the other. And it seems when this matter comes up for discussion on Internet forums, usually verbal flame wars erupt. Clearly this is a hot button issue with no simple answers, maybe because over the years the issues that these people fight over are constantly changing.

One thing is for certain, this is another case where the United Nations shows that it is ineffective, with what appears to be no action on their part to do anything to broker a peace with the current situation. My fear is that Iran will use this situation as the excuse to involve themselves in this conflict, and we know that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had once said he’s like to wipe the Israelis off the map.

This whole situation can grow into a huge mess if handled poorly. My opinion is that right now, this is a mess we need to stay out of – and so should every other country. I am saddened that innocent people – on both sides – are being killed by this current conflict, but I do not think that anyone, other than UN military, should be moving in and helping at this point in time. This could only be like throwing gasoline on a flame. I hope cooler heads will somehow prevail, although I won’t hold my breath.

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