Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Rather Refuses To Go Quietly Into That Good Night

Legendary CBS anchor Dan Rather has accused his former bosses of hiding documents that would show that his former network sacrificed him to appease the Bush Administration over alleged memos that question the president’s National Guard conduct.

Now Rather is suing CBS for a cool $70 million and he also claims the network is intentionally keeping the trial out of the public eye. Well, duh. Of course they are and you don’t need a long career in journalism to figure that out.

To recap what happened, in my little opinion, that forced The Dan into an early retirement is simple: Former Texas Army National Guard officer Lt. Col. Bill Burkett gave four memos to CBS in late August of 2004 that claimed that President Bush’s former senior officer, Lieutenant Colonel Jerry B. Killian, criticized the president’s service in the National Guard in 1972.

After CBS aired the story in early September of 2004, there were many accusations against the network and Rather of sloppy journalism and that the memos were fakes. Now initially, I supported Rather. My knee-jerk reaction was that even the best reporters get hoodwinked every once in awhile. But I had the good common sense to at least dig into some of these accusations against The Dan and discover why so many people were up in arms.

It turns out that the forensic document experts, including Marcel Matley who was interviewed by the network, that CBS used stated that they had problems with the memos because they were copies and not the originals, which makes it hard to determine how authentic they are. Something that CBS and Rather forgot to report. Other document experts interviewed by the media stated the memos were actually created on a computer and not a typewriter from the 1970s.

And that’s where my support ended, along with many other journalists’. And thank goodness for the power of the blog or this little story would still been considered true.

And what gets me is that Rather could have covered himself by saying that experts questioned the validity of the memos by Killian. It’s Journalism 101 folks: You report both sides of the story and let the people decide. And if The Dan did that, he would still be working today, in my humble, little opinion.

Now Rather is making an idiot of himself by suing CBS and saying the network is hiding documents that can clear his name. Sure, he was hell bent that the initial story and even the memos were true, but Rather himself was the one who said that he had no confidence in the memos. And never mind the fact that Burkett has a proven history of lying about President Bush’s service. And because Burkett lied about the memos and how he got them, it makes me question Rather’s journalistic integrity if he still believes in the story and the memos.

Rather is just embarrassing himself by trying to make this an issue when he and CBS were clearly in the wrong about this story. He should be enjoying retirement as much as he can and not make a spectacle of himself.

It’s time to say “Good Night,” Dan.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Northern Illinois University Shooting Only Shows One Side Of Guns

While it was certainly a tragedy that a crazed gunman silenced five lives before taking his own yesterday in a lecture hall at Northern Illinois University, many gun critics have said there is no more need for the Second Amendment because of the recent school shootings.

But the fact that gun critics are citing only recent school shootings, and some saying that one never hears about people using guns to protect themselves and their loved ones, paints a very false picture indeed.

While a homeowner using his or her legally-owned firearm to protect him or herself from burglars does not make national news, it does not mean it does not happen. In fact, it happens nearly every day. If one goes to the Web site Gun Watch, one will see links to news articles that show that in one month’s time guns have been used to protect people against criminals than a year’s worth of nationally reported school shootings.

Such as the case of 80-year-old Texan and W.W. II vet James Pickett. He heard a knock at his door and two men barged into his home with a knife, according to police.

He just came through that door, stabbing and beating,” Pickett told Dallas/Fort Worth Channel 9.

Thankfully for Pickett, he already placed a gun in his pocket before he went to answer the door. During the fight, Pickett turned and shot one of the alleged robbers and the bullet missed his spine. The other man ran but was later caught, stated police. The two alleged robbers are facing assault, burglary and robbery charges.

The sad fact is that school shootings have been happening for a long time in America, including the little known 1927 Bath School incident in Michigan where a man bombed the Bath Consolidated School and shot and killed three people. By the end of the incident, a total 45 people died, mostly children.

But during the aftermath of the terrible shooting at Northern Illinois University, now is not the time for knee-jerk reactions. As it has been stated before in The Times Observer, those who are calling for the stripping of the Second Amendment fail to realize that criminals will continue to get guns or use other weapons to inflict pain and death to the law-biding citizen.

What needs to be done is to enforce the gun laws that we have now or provide better ones to help law enforcement officials to properly do their job without inconveniencing gun owners with restricting new legislation.

Do not let the justified national media coverage of school shootings cloud the protection that the Second Amendment gives to many Americans every day.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

McCain A Better Uniter
Than Clinton, Obama

After the last bits of confetti have been cleaned up and chairs put back in their places, Super Tuesday was one hell of a party. But only one politician came out as the most recognizable winner and that’s Arizona’s Sen. John McCain.

And it’s clear too. A full day after Super Tuesday, people are talking about John McCain. At the moment, he is the leading Republican presidential candidate, beating former Governor of Massachusetts Mitt Romney and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.

McCain’s Super Tuesday victory clearly shows he knows how to beat his rivals and maybe it’s time New York Sen. Hillary Clinton and Ill. Sen. Barack Obama take a leaf from McCain’s political playbook.

Sure, all three of these candidates have been involved with heavy mudslinging with their opponents and only die-hard supporters eat that stuff up. For those of us who would rather have something of substance, we have to wait patiently in our wading boots and dodge the mud. And just like fishing, with great perseverance, we will catch a few words of inspiration and a plan to not only protect our nation but steer it out of the economic mess that it has found itself in.

McCain obviously has a message that Republicans can follow and embrace, while Obama and Clinton may not have that same unifying message if Democratic voters overwhelmingly could not decide on which one they could wholeheartedly support. And this has been the Democrats major downfall in the last few years.

With the many faults Republicans have, they can at least come together and support a single candidate. Sure, it still too early to say that McCain will get the nomination but he won more than half of the delegates. That really says something. Because the same can’t be said about Obama or Clinton. It’s still too close to call and it seems that Democrats are willing to choose a person who is the most electable. And how wise is that?

It certainly didn’t work when Democrats chose Sen. John Kerry to try to beat President Bush back in 2004. Democrats had been falling all over themselves in finding ways to beat Bush during the 2004 campaign.

After all, President Bush embarrassingly beat Al Gore in 2000 and the Democrats wanted to beat him in 2004 and get the White House, which they thought was rightfully theirs in the first place. In their desperate attempt, they selected Kerry, who during the campaign could not unite a number of Democrats since many jumped ship and decided to vote for Bush instead.

Now history is repeating itself and what’s worse, Democrats can’t decide which one to choose, Obama or Clinton. And that speaks volumes of Obama’s and Clinton’s abilities to be uniters.

Sure, there are many factors that go into why a candidate is either leading in the polls or is nearly tied with an opponent. But the number one factor that is most critical is the message and being able to bring a party together. Simply put, neither Clinton nor Obama can bring Democrats together if the voters cannot ultimately decide on which one of them to choose.

The two have been focusing on each other for so long that they failed to notice how McCain’s message united Republicans on Super Tuesday. It seems that they are more dividers than uniters and it was certainly apparent on Tuesday. The question now is: Is it too late to become a McCain for the Democratic Party?

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Tears May Help Hillary Win

Guess who will probably win Super Tuesday? That’s right, Democratic Presidential Candidate Sen. Hillary Clinton! Is it because of her dynamic presence, her political plans for this country’s future or how she can connect with the people? No, none of these respectful qualities. She’ll probably win because her eyes got watery yesterday in New Haven, Conn., during a speech.

Many will remember that people, including myself, said that her Democratic rival for the White House, Sen. Barack Obama, won Iowa because he was the Man of the People. He could connect to them in a way that she could not. More than one person said this and it would seem that Camp Hillary figured this critical piece of information out too.

Because the day before the New Hampshire primary, with many polls saying she would lose to Obama, Hillary choked back some tears when a woman asked her how she kept going during a tough campaign. Of course, we all heard from the New York Senator’s lips how hard it has been for her.

But hey, the trick worked and she won New Hampshire. She had to show people that she had a soft side to her and that she wasn’t some emotionless robot that many people have accused her of being over the years.

And apparently, the new motto at Camp Hillary is: If it worked once, it can work again. So, she became “teary” again yesterday. The senator was at a campaign event at the Yale Child Study Center when she had her “moment.” And it’s interesting to note that Obama was leading in the polls yesterday.

Many people, and surprisingly a good number of Democrats and women, cried foul when Hillary cried a little the day before the New Hampshire primary, saying it was just a political ploy to gain some votes. Others said the tears were genuine and it showed just how human Hillary really is.

Now, I’m of two minds about this. Personally, I think Hillary faked both incidents to help her win. At least she had the good sense not to give the same performance as last time and it shows. Less is more. This time around she only got teary. Last time the overacting went on for a little longer. And that just leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

We all know that politicians use any dirty or cheap trick in the book to gain votes but this was just over the top. Especially now that she’s done it a second time. Surely a reasonable person can see a pattern here. First time she won one state, New Hampshire, and this time around she may win multiple states.

Now, let’s say that these watery-eye moments are not a dirty trick to win over sensitive voters. For argument’s sake, let’s say it was genuine. Then I personally don’t want Hillary Clinton as president. If she can’t handle the stress of being on the campaign trail and duke it out with her political rivals, then she won’t be able to deal with the colossal pressure that the White House has to offer. Because once in office, Hillary Clinton will literally have the weight of the world on her shoulders.

Just take a look at any president when he has started his term in office and see how much he has aged when he leaves. Presidents age badly in a short amount of time because of the stress that’s associated with running the most powerful country on the planet. And Hillary will have an even tougher job than her husband, because we have the War on Terror going on and the Iraq war to be concerned with.

And before anyone accuses me of being a sexist pig, I would say the same thing if Barack Obama or John McCain started complaining how tough it was on the campaign trail and their eyes were getting moist. As a citizen of this country, I want a strong leader who can handle the stress and not break down when things get tough.

I want someone who will not use a cheap trick to his or her advantage and I certainly don’t want someone who will crumble from the crushing pressure that the Commander-In-Chief has to deal with in order to keep Americans safe.

Friday, February 01, 2008

School Board That Expelled Kissing Teens Says There Is More To It

The school board that expelled Blythewood High School junior Dominique Goyner and his unnamed girlfriend for kissing on a school bus is now coming out, saying that there is more to this than meets the eye but cannot release that information due to “legal reasons.”

Granted, there is always more to any story but the board members of Richland School District Two, in Columbia, S.C., did not handle the situation well at all. The board should have made it perfectly clear that from day one that there was another side to this story and that because of legal reasons, the situation could not be discussed. The school board would have saved itself a lot of headaches if it did that.

The Charlotte State reported that the officials stated that the kissing “… episode that resulted in the expulsion went beyond acceptable social norms.” If this is true, it certainly flies in the face of Jody Free, Goyner’s mother, who told the Associated Press that she saw the video recording of the “session” and said the two teens only kissed.

Sadly, because multiple parties are not willing to give full accounts of what actually happened on that fateful day last October, one is forced to speculate that the school board showed Free the video tape. So, either Free is lying about what she really saw on the bus’ video tape so she can help her son or the school board members saw something that they thought was inappropriate to them but not to Free. Or the other scenario is the school board members showed an edited, G-rated version to Free. Sure, that does not make any sense but at the moment, the whole affair does not make any sense at all either.

And it would be extremely helpful if we could hear the unnamed girlfriend’s side of the story in all of this. Or maybe the reporters could do some legwork and just interview the bus driver or the kids on the bus about what they saw. Since this whole affair is becoming a typical gossip mill found in any high school hallway between Goyner and the school board, reporters might as well get as much of the facts out as possible.

While many have found it hard to believe that the school board expelled two teens for kissing and insist that there is more to this story, they seem to be correct. But lately, school officials are making very stupid judgment calls.

After all, in today’s society we have teachers pretending to be hooded gunmen during class field trips and students getting detention for hugging, it truly does seem possible that a school board would allow such a ridiculous punishment to take place.