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Archive for November, 2009

Tiger Woods Gone Fishing?

Monday, November 30th, 2009

Tiger Woods’ accident is causing the vultures to circle around him looking for meat.  As a private citizen, he doesn’t owe them anything  nor an explanation about his SUV accident. The problem is Tiger is a public person. Tiger Woods has guarded his privacy throughout his career.  The price he pays for his celebrity status is people poking into his private life. That’s what comes with fame as the world’s best known athlete.  Tiger has posted a statement of sorts on his website. Inquiring minds will still want to know more.

What is perplexing is why the Florida law enforcement want further information. No alcohol was detected by the police.  The accident occurred on  private property. Wherever Tiger was going is a private matter. It’s not against the law to leave your house at 2 am. The police infer that Tiger’s injuries appear inconsistent with his accident. They suggest his injuries are more serious than what might be expected from hitting a tree. Well, it was not a minor accident. Just look at his Cadillac Escalade. It’s well banged up too.  Legally, Tiger owes the police no further explanation. He must provide his driver’s license, registration and insurance information. He complied.

While Tiger may owe more to the public, he owes nothing more to the police. He has no higher standard than any of us as a private citizen. In police matters, he is a private person.  The Florida police are on a fishing expedition. And I hope Tiger doesn’t take the bait.

What do you think?

Movie Review- The White House Party Crashers

Friday, November 27th, 2009

We all remember the movie The Wedding Crashers  about two men who crash parties as uninvited guests.  It was fiction.  We all just saw the sequel to that movie called The White House Party Crashers. It is fact.  Fact is sometimes stranger than fiction. Two days before Thanksgiving an aspiring reality TV couple crashed the White House formal state dinner. Neither were invited. Nor were their names on the guest list. Yet, they boldly strut their stuff right past Secret Service on their evening escapade. Is it that easy to get into  a  formal White House event these days? Apparently, it is.  How did this happen? It’s quite simple.  Secret Service was not doing their job.

Reveling in their clever charade, the interlopers posted their photos on Facebook. These uninvited persons shook hands with President Obama,  posed with Vice President Biden, and was in the same room with Mrs. Obama, Indian Prime Minister Singh and other honored guests. This is no laughing matter.  And it should not be  treated as one. If we can’t prevent a couple of amateur, immature imposters from entering the White House, how can we handle terrorists or those who mean harm to President Obama?  Apparently, sadly we can’t.

As the couple knowingly entered the White House as uninvited guests at a private affair, they were trespassers. It is a crime. Trespassing on federal property probably carries a higher sentence. We prosecute adoring  crazed fans who enter uninvited the homes of Hollywood celebrities. This couple’s antics are far worse. Ironically, according to sources, the trespassers have a sign posted on their house that says trespassers will be prosecuted. So they will understand when they are prosecuted.  No ignorance of the law here.  You may recall we prosecuted another reality TV couple recently. Balloon boy’s parents were prosecuted and pled guilty to a felony for their bogus balloon hoax. There was actually more of an outcry against balloon boy’s parents’ hoax than this stunt.

More importantly, there should be a greater outcry of concern for President Obama’s safety and the noncompliance or breach of security measures. Secret Service agents responsible for the security breach should be severly disciplined. They were at fault in the worse way.  Just imagine if this happened during the Bush Cheney era. They would be charged with trespassing by now, conspiracy to commit an unlawful act or worse.   So where is the outrage now?

I just hope there will not be a sequel to this movie.  I’ve seen enough.

Postscript: 3 days after the incident the Secret Service issued a statement saying they are deeply concerned and embarassed by the incident.  Embarassment should be the least of their concerns.

SARAH PALIN AND ROGUE ETIQUETTE

Monday, November 23rd, 2009

Sarah Palin came out swinging with her Going Rogue book tour. Book stores are required to buy 2500 advance copies in order to sponsor a 3 hour advance ticketed signing event.  It worked.  Most copies are being sold. Yet many people stand outside looking inside without a ticket. At one Noblesville, Indiana store, people stood outside for hours in the rain hopiing for a chance to greet Sarah Palin.  And here’s where the rogue etiquette issue begins.  Palin strusts right past them without so much as a mere hello. She heads straight for her bus and next book signing event.

I recall being at American University in January, 2008 with Senator Ted Kennedy and then Senator Barack Obama. Unfortunately I was one of those on the outside looking in to get a glimpse.  Unlike the Palin onlookers, I got so much more than a mere glimpse.  Barack Obama decided to come outside and address the outside crowd after speaking to the packed full house inside. 

It was one of those memorable unforgetable moments for me.  Those people waiting outside in the rain for hours to hear Sarah Palin were disappoiinted.  She lost an opportunity to be forever etched in their memory banks.  In etiquette,  Palin’s no Barack Obama.

Baltimore-Where’s the Beef?

Monday, November 16th, 2009

Baltimore is best known for crab cakes, the Inner Harbor, the Ravens and now the trial of Mayor Sheila Dixon for stealing $1500 in gift cards. But where’s the beef?  Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon is on trial for allegedly stealing $1500 in gift cards intended as gifts for the poor and needy.  A former boyfriend and another real estate developer allegedly gave the cards to Dixon to distribute to less fortunate citizens of Baltimore according to the prosecution. The State Special Prosecutor’s office has relentlessly pursued Mayor Dixon for years. Taking millions of dollars of taxpayer money and many years to investigate and try this case seems like a vendetta to me. Now don’t get me wrong.  If Mayor Dixon took from the poor to buy for  herself that’s just plain wrong.  But will a Baltimore jury convict her for theft of $1500? Will the jury ask instead where’s the beef? Will it be much ado about nothing?

The prosecution stems from when Mayor Dixon was President of the Baltimore City Council. The jury heard from a developer who thought the cards were intended for the poor. But then the prosecutor didn’t call her former real estate developer  boyfriend who received probation to testify against her. Undoubtably he vanished in thin air just as  the  prosecutor’s case is going up in smoke.  Now really  where is the beef?

Recently many politicians have faced trials. Former Louisiana Congressman Jefferson was just convicted of taking $500,000 in bribes. Remember $90,000 was found in his freezer.  Former California Congressman Randy Cunningham was convicted of taking bribes of $2.4 million.  Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick cost the taxpayers almost $9 million in an elaborate scheme to cover up an extra marital affair.  He plead guilty to perjury. Then there’s Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich who was indicted for allegedly trying to sell President Obama’s Senate seat to the highest bidder.

But Sheila’s case, as she is affectionately known in Baltimore, reminds me of Mike Espy’s case in the 1990’s.  Former Secretary of Agriculture Mike Espy was tried for taking illegal gifts, sports tickets, airfare and hotel lodging from Tyson Foods amounting to $35,000. The Special Prosecutor’s   $17 million dollar investigation, 7 week trial and 70 witnesses added up to an aquittal for Mike Espy. Former jurors on his case said if the government has $17 million dollars for an investigation, they will find something on you too. And that’s the point with Mayor Dixon.  Will a mostly female  jury convict her of taking gift cards totaling  now $1000 and dwindling by the minute? As a former Baltimore prosecutor, I seriously doubt it. The jurors are probably wondering too…where’s the beef?

As of Tuesday, November 17, 2009 the judge tossed out 2 charges and $500 of the gift cards.  Could the case be going up in smoke too? We’ll know soon if it’s much ado about nothing.

Postscript:  The Baltimore Afro published this article as Commentary in their November 17-27 edition, p. A-8.

FAITH AND FIGHTING: SHOULD MUSLIMS FIGHT MUSLIMS

Wednesday, November 11th, 2009

We celebrated Veterans Day on November 11.  Yet one week before Veterans Day, a Fort Hood Muslim psychiatrist shot and killed 13 and injured 42 others.Was this about faith or a deranged mind?  Is this the tip of the iceberg or an isolated incident?

Suspicion against Muslims has grown since the September 11, 2001 attacks on us by Muslims.  Muslims are now the new police profiling group at airports, on airplanes and everywhere else. Many Muslims have been detained on the basis of suspicion as terrorists. A Muslim sounding name or looking appearance is cause for concern now. In a post 9-11 world, we cannot overlook the fact that Muslims have us on heightened alert.  And after the Fort Hood killings, they undoubtably will be on red alert. Should Muslim soldiers be allowed the option of seeking conscientious objector status in light of the Fort Hood developments?

Religion is a funny thing.  And yes, Islam is a religion, contrary to the utterly absurd remarks by Pat Robertson, that Islam is a “violent political system”. Yet, we sometimes make religion what we want it to be.  The killings of abortion doctors and bombings at abortion clinics were done in the name of Christianity against abortion. Then there’s the doctors, nurses and other hospital personnel who kill or  perform euthanasia as a so called “mercy” killing for the terminally ill. They kill claiming the Bible teaches us mercy.  Other religious groups violently protest and disrupt the sanctity of funerals of soldiers using their Biblical beliefs against gays. Do all Christians believe in killing abortion doctors, bombing abortion clinics,  killing the terminally ill and disrespecting, disrupting and protesting the funerals of soldiers? So is it any different with respect to Muslims?  Not all Muslims preach hatred and kill as not all Christians kill in the name of Christianity.

During the Vietnam war, Muhammad Ali,  sought conscientious objector status before being drafted. He was initially denied it and stripped of his Heavy Weight World champion title.  He sought conscientious objector status on the basis of his Muslim religion and beliefs.

During World War II, Asian American soldiers were looked upon with suspicion and distrust. Pearl Harbor was bombed by the Japanese.  Asian Americans  fought against  Japan  for our country. During World War II, blacks were treated as second class segregated citizens as they fought for our country. They were not afforded full rights here or abroad.  And then there’s the current gay and lesbian issue of don’t ask, don’t tell policy for fear of being further scrutnized.

The issues facing Muslims today are similar to the issues facing Asians and African Americans during World War II.  Muslims have difficulty in fitting in military and civilian life as much as African Americans did during segregated times. They’re not an easy fit for the times. And no doubt psychological issues stem from these issues then and now. This is where the effort should be placed. We need to get our service men and women regardless of their race, religion or sexual orientation the help they need to combat  their unique issues in the military.

Should Muslim Americans fight Muslims?  In today’s military, unlike Muhammad Ali, Muslim Americans volunteer to serve. They take the same oath all others take to defend our country. Let them do their job.

AFTERMATH: EXECUTION OF JOHN ALLEN MUHAMMAD

Wednesday, November 11th, 2009

John Allen Muhammad, known as the DC Sniper was executed around 9:00 pm on November 10, 2009. Did we get it right? Should we shout for joy or weep for sadness?  The eyes of the whole world were on us as we took an eye for an eye, a life for a life.  In the words of Mahatma Gandhi, taking an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.  None of the western European countries give the death penalty. We’re in the company of Iran, Iraq, China and the Congo. Is that the company we want to keep?  I was always taught to watch who you keep company with.  We no longer give 20 lashes for theft. We don’t give a rape sentence to a rapist. So why do we still kill a killer?

Were the victims’ families comforted by his execution?  I doubt it. When have we ever  been comforted by an act of violence? Violence never gives peace nor comfort.  Violence begets violence. We cannot restore life by taking a life. Coretta Scott King once said an evil act is not redeemed by an evil act of retaliation. She kew something about being the victim of a killer.

By taking the life of John Allen Muhammad, we risk taking the life of a truly innocent person somewhere on death row now.  That’s the problem I have with the death penalty. It’s like the movie trailer that says you can win a million dollars but someone has to die. We can kill a John Allen Muhammad but some innocent person somewhere else must die too.

Statistices show hundreds of persons on death row have been exonnerated. In the reverse, persons have been sent to death due to later discovered faulty DNA evidence. The loss of taking even one innocent person is not worth having the death penalty for one John Allen Muhammad. We value life in this country more than anything.

Should we shout for joy or weep for sadness over John Allen Muhammad’s execution? We should weep for our country. Until we get it right, we will never have it right. We will never have peace.

Did you weep, shout or remain silent?