What's All This Then?
Wednesday, June 29, 2011
A FAREWELL TO BLAGO
Since I have written about the trials and tribulations of Rod Blagojevich on at least a half dozen occasions - sometimes humorously - sometimes with serious advice - I feel obligated to make some comments about his conviction on seventeen of the alleged criminal acts contained in his indictment. If you have read any of my previous comments about the man and his two trials, you will not be surprised to learn that I disagree with the verdict. Meaning no disrespect to the members of the jury who convicted him, I think they were bamboozled into their decision - not so much by the evidence but by the weight of the accusations and the conduct of Judge Zagel. I wasn’t at the trial and I haven’t read transcripts of the proceedings - but I pretty much know the nature of the charges and I have read news accounts of some of the Judge’s rulings - such as telling the defendant what he can and can’t say in his own defense - a ruling that I find mind boggling.
The problem facing the jury, one that was extremely difficult for them to overcome, was the assertion that many of the activities described in the indictment were criminal in nature. What for decades was known and accepted as the down and dirty business of politics has in recent times been endowed with the label of criminality - and without someone in the jury room questioning that kind of interpretation, the outcome was inevitable. I’ve said it before an d I’ll say it once again - I’ve been where Blagojevich was. I was once indicted on multiple allegedly "criminal" counts. Nothing alleged in the indictment was true and nothing alleged was criminal - but had the judge before whom the indictment was presented allowed it to proceed to trial, a jury might well have accepted the assertion that perfectly normal business activity was in fact "criminal.". Blago was about as unsophisticated as one could be in his pursuit of a political career - and he probably crossed the line of acceptable political discourse and behavior on multiple occasions, but in the end no individual was harmed and no actual damage was done to the business of the State.
The assertion of the prosecution and of the judge was that the mere stated desire to accomplish something, the accomplishment of which would be illegal, is in itself a crime - but sifting through all the recordings and live renditions of Blago’s unfortunate affliction of Diarrhea of the Mouth secondary to Flights of Nonsensical Fancy - who could really tell at what point he may have crossed what I would think of as an imaginary line between the ramblings of a fool and the cunning plans of an arch criminal? But even if his looking to be rewarded for naming a desired candidate fill the President’s unfinished Senate term and even if his efforts to squeeze campaign contributions from those needing or entitled to some help from the state had the smell of freshly manufactured sleaze - was that enough reason to expose him to the possibility of a jail term of ten years or more - which will certainly be the result of those seventeen guilty verdicts?
I’m no fan of Blagojevich. I agree with Chicago Tribune columnist Eric Zorn that he had no business being Illinois’ chief executive. He was totally the wrong person for the job - and that was almost bound to get him in trouble. But I also agree with Zorn about the argument that Blago and his lawyers couldn’t raise at his trial. The "Oh Come On." argument. It’s an argument that I would have advanced had I been sitting in that jury room. He’s a clown who didn’t know any better. He’s been disgraced, kicked out of office, broke and in debt with his political career over. with no sure way of making a living and there are no dead or broken bodies in his wake. Enough already. Not guilty of being an arch criminal who deserves to rot in jail for the next ten or more years. But I wasn’t on the jury, nor was there anyone skeptical of the prosecution’s theories or the neutrality of the judge. So it’s farewell to Blago. And look out Governor Quinn. Nice guy? Honest? Maybe, but can he spell Patrick Fitzgerald?
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
A DIFFERENT WAY TO LOOK AT PALESTINIAN "REFUGEES"
A few weeks ago I read a news item in the Chicago Tribune about Palestinians clashing with each other in a Lebanese based "refugee camp." Those facts were revealed in the opening sentence of the piece. Casually. Total acceptance. Sixty three years after the Arab world tried to destroy Israel, Palestinian "refugees" are part of the world landscape - that claimed status almost never questioned when reporters write stories such as the one mentioned here. I thought it was tine once again for me to question this astonishing status quo and since I didn’t remember the date of the story or the headline, I tried to find it by querying Google with "Palestinians clash in Lebanese refugee camp." I got 4,400,000 hits. Most of them probably had little to do with the information I was looking for, but on the first page there was story after story of such clashes over a period of years. I would have proceeded with comments on these stories except for the fact that while in the Google site I checked on current news stories and found a Wall Street editorial titled "WHAT IF JEWS HAD FOLLOWED THE PALESTINIAN PATH’ by Warren Kozak. I would like to have written as clever a look the true nature of the Palestinian "refugee problem as Mt. Kozak has penned in his editorial - but since I didn’t and he did, here it is with my admiration and endorsement.
It is doubtful that there has ever been a more miserable human refuse than Jewish survivors after World War II. Starving, emaciated, stateless—they were not welcomed back by countries where they had lived for generations as assimilated and educated citizens. Germany was no place to return to and in Kielce, Poland, 40 Jews who survived the Holocaust were killed in a pogrom one year after the war ended. The European Jew, circa 1945, quickly went from victim to international refugee disaster. Yet within a very brief time, this epic calamity disappeared, so much so that few people today even remember the period. How did this happen in an era when Palestinian refugees have continued to be stateless for generations?. No doubt there will be pro-Palestinian responses to this interesting way of looking at why there have been Palestinian "refugees" for the last 63 years - and if I find any, I might reproduce and comment on them here - but I can’t imagine any of them making the kind of sense Mr, Kosal has fashioned.
Friday, June 17, 2011
BYE BYE WEENIE
As I said a couple of days ago, people who were otherwise disgusted at the revelations of Anthony Wiener’s sick behavior and angered at the week of lies he spun to try to cover it up were perhaps beginning to feel a little sorry for him because of the relentless demands for his resignation from members of his own party. After yesterday’s resignation circus, I doubt that there’s much sympathy left for the sexting Congressman. I would imagine that even his strongest supporters were dismayed at his decision to resign in a press conference type of setting in front of what was likely an array of international media. A simple letter of resignation would have sufficed and added little fodder fort the late night comedians. Instead he provided them with at least two or three more nights of weenie jokes.
To the end, this guy wanted to hog a microphone and as many cameras as could fit into the room he chose to use to make his exit and to publicly admit to "mistakes" while pledging to continue to do good works on behalf of ordinary folks. What is it with politicians who get caught with their hands in the cookie jar and who then apologize for making mistakes? How is having a compulsion to take pictures of your body parts and send then unsolicited to women you don’t know a "mistake?" Or maybe he meant that not keeping his sicko activities sufficiently hidden from public view was a mistake. It’s no wonder Congress is held in low regard by so many
And yet there are television and radio and assorted pundits who are predicting that we haven’t heard the last of Anthony Weiner - that he may even have a second political career. And I’ve been hearing the same thing from at least one left leaning talk show host who had not just joined the daily Democratic call for Weiner’s resignation but may have beaten some of them to the punch with his own call for the Congressman to go away. And apparently he still has supporters among "social medias" users - Twitters, Facebookers and the like.
Personally I’m glad he’s gone and that there’ll be nothing else to persuade me to devote another paragraph of this blog to discuss this idiot’s shortcomings - no pun intended but look for a flock of them to emerge from the aforementioned late night comedy television shows.
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
DEMOCRATIC LYNCH MOB CREATING SYMPATHY FOR WEINER?
I didn’t think I would be among the countless bloggers, columnists and assorted pundits writing about Anthony Weiner but Nancy Pelosi, Debbie Wasserman Schultz and a few other Democratic politicians made me do it. Like the late great Flip Wilson’s devil.
My first reaction after Weiner admitted he’d been lying for a week was that I wouldn’t vote for him for dog catcher. I can’t exercise that rejection of course since I live in Illinois. But my concomitant reaction was that he’ll either get his comeuppance from the voters of his district of they’ll give him a chance to rehabilitate himself. More than that I had no interest in thinking, talking or writing about this sicko - and indeed that’s what he is. But then Nancy and Debbie and a whole bunch of others started piling on - and while that didn’t evoke any sympathy in me for Weiner, it made me a little disgusted at their combined behavior.
If you recall Weiner’s initial lying reaction when the first picture and first recipient surfaced - it wasn’t an outright lying denial. For whatever reason, he couldn’t bring himself to deny that the picture of his bulging underwear was real and that the bulge was his. He spoke gobbledygook about "photo shop" - sort of hinting that it was him but maybe an altered him. Maybe he knew he was going to be totally exposed - no pun intended - or, as some likely amateur psychiatrists in the world of punditry have suggested - he wanted to be caught - but just couldn’t bring himself to admit his problem right away, though he must have known the gig was up. And of course, like a long line of sinning politicians before him, he forgot that it’s always the cover up that sinks you - not that which you are clumsily attempting to cover up.
I don’t think I’m playing amateur psychiatrist when I call Weiner a "sicko." What he’s been doing is about as sick as it can be - not that far removed from idiots who expose themselves in front of girls and women on public thoroughfares. Some people have tried to say that his actions weren’t as bad as something like being caught with a hooker. He didn’t actually DO anything with these girls they say. I think that what Weiner has been doing is far worse than being caught with a hooker. You can sort of understand that kind of weakness in a man and almost forgive it. And if it happens to be a single adult male, there’s little to forgive in my opinion. He may be breaking the law but he’s not cheating on anyone or breaking any vows. But sending pictures of yourself grabbing your crotch to someone completely out of the blue isn’t a weakness - it’s just plain sick.
Now, having neatly condemned the New York Congressman, let me turn around and sort of defend him. It was to be expected that members of his own party and some members of the liberal press would express shock and dismay and disapproval at the revelations of his strange private life. After all, they’re Democrats. But then they began to pile on. As successive female recipients of his body parts reproductions were revealed - the cries for his head on a block grew exponentially. "Twitter" correspondence with a seventeen year old became "the last straw"- even though police - how did they get involved? - assured the world that nothing "inappropriate" had taken place in his exchanges with her. Even though it appears that she was a fan of his and he politely responded to what would have amounted to fan mail in another era - the fact that she was a kid was enough for Nancy, Debbie et al to insist that Weiner go away and stop embarrassing his Democratic colleagues who have hopes of re-taking the House next year and don’t want to have a "Weinergate" to muddy up their campaign strategy.
Sure it’s appropriate for the Democratic leadership to adopt a "high road" approach to this scandal - but there are a lot of Democratic and independent voters who are looking at this growing lynch mob and asking themselves what kind of party they’re being asked to support. The Republicans have been condemning of course - but for the most part, they’ve just watched from the sidelines as the Democrats make a bad situation worse - and now the President has chimed in saying he would have resigned if he found himself in the same kind of situation. I don’t recall any leading Republican members of Congress saying similar things about the behavior of David Bitter or John Ensign or Larry Craig. There was no day after day after day public outcry from Republican Congressional leaders that they commit political hari kiri after their embarrassing and in one case potentially illegal activities were revealed. There was always the underlying feeling that Republicans weren’t about to throw one of their own under the bus unless there was no other option available to them..
No question that a great many supporters of the Democratic party are disgusted with Weiner. He’s been a champion of the liberal wing with his emotional floor speeches and his frequent television appearances on left leaning programs. That adds to the disappointment. But, like me - an independent who more frequently votes Democratic than Republican - they are probably becoming just a little bit sorry for the Congressman because he has been so totally "dumped" by his own party and perhaps becoming more sympathetic to the idea of letting his constituents decide whether he should stay or go. If they want to re-elect a sicko - that’s their prerogative - and if you think that because he’s an obvious sicko there’s something wrong with that and something wrong with the voters in his district - just look at some members from both sides of the aisle that voters keep re-electing. I’m tempted to name a few names but I’ll leave it up to my sophisticated readers to pick their own favorites from this category. Non sophisticated readers who have landed here by accident - take a pass.
Weiner wants to take some time off to seek therapy for his addiction and if the Democratic leaders are as politically smart as they think they are, they should let him do it and stop their daily calls for his resignation. It’s making them look way too ready to throw one of their own under the bus even though there’s no indication that he has committed any ethical violation or done anything criminal. They should heed the ancient admonition that there are times when you should not only be careful what you wish for - but you should do your wishing less loudly and less frequently. It could wind making them look more like villains and Congressman Weiner more like a victim
Friday, June 03, 2011
ADVICE FOR BLAGO
From what I’ve read of Blago’s testimony so far , he’s well on the road to losing his case - and of course his freedom. Unless the eleven women on the jury are moved by his family history testimony and his and his wife’s tears. But I doubt it. They’re more likely bored by the stories of his rise to and fall from power. And as I warned here a month ago, Blago’s having trouble with Judge Zabel. He’s acting like a member of the prosecution team, telling Blago what he can and can’t say about why and how he believed he was doing nothing wrong in discussions with his aids and others that the prosecution alleges were criminal. Not my idea of what a fair trial should look like when a judge can tell a defendant how he can defend himself - but then I’m not a lawyer so it isn’t that easy to understand the world of courts and judges.
But if I was a lawyer representing Blagojevich and he’s decided to testify in his own defense, my advice to him would be simple. Do not just deny. Tell the truth about what prosecution witnesses have testified to - just make it your version of the truth. When people testify about meetings at which they say potentially damaging things were discussed - don’t say you don’t recall what they said took place - or in one instance that you don’t recall any such meeting ever taking place. The jury isn’t going to believe that these witnesses are creating stories out of whole cloth. They’ll be asking themselves what I would ask. Why would they do such a thing? O.K. Maybe Jesse Jackson . After hearing the disparaging things Blago said about him, he’d have reason to put an anti Blago spin on his testimony - but even so don’t deny that you said he should have given you a $25,000 donation if he’d wanted you to appoint his wife to be head of the Illinois lottery. Just say that you were ribbing him and that Sandy Jackson was never on your "A" list for that appointment.
Backed by all the telephone recordings, it’s likely that the jury will agree with the prosecution that a number of the things they allege in the indictment actually happened. It’s the interpretation of those things on which a verdict will hang - and the task of Blago and his lawyers is to get the jury to agree that however bad it might look in the surface - no crimes were committed. But that task won’t be made easier by Blago posturing as one with only the noblest of intentions, for example wanting only the best for Illinois in his selection of someone to fill Barrack Obama’s Senate seat. It just doesn’t fit the picture of the man as portrayed by those testifying against him and by his own actions since his indictment. His lawyers need to portray him as a flawed, narcissistic individual who had wild eyed ambitions - but who isn’t a criminal.
If I’m representing Blago, I would advise him how to answer questions on both direct and cross examination based on what I would be telling the jury in my summation - and part of that summation would include the following.
And of course, even though Judge Zabel would come down on me like a ton of bricks - I would try to bring up the absence of Rob Blagojevich from the defendant’s table to emphasize the point that prosecutor Fitzgerald doesn’t necessarily care that much about guilt or innocence. He just wants to nail Rod Blagojevich and if letting his brother off the hook in order to achieve that goal succeeds - even though last year he maintained that he too was an arch criminal - justice - or Federal Prosecutor Fitzgerald's version of justice, will have been served.
And in case you’re wondering why I’ve written several pieces more or less defending the ex-Governor, it’s simply because I don’t believe he’s a criminal - just a clown - and sending a clown to jail for clownish activity serves no useful purpose. He’s already been disgraced by his impeachment - the genesis of which was highly suspicious. He’s through in politics. All for being a clown. It should be enough. I just hope for Blago’s sake that there are one or two jurors who will see it that way - more possible if HE heeds the sage advice offered here.