March 15, 2016
February 18, 2011
August 21, 2009
You step into your designated polling place with the proud determination to perform your civic duty and exercise that greatest of American rights – casting your ballot in an election. You are confident that your vote, and the multitude of others cast, will fairly elect a representative to be your voice in the county district in which you reside.
You might be wrong if you live in Lee County, FL.
Decades ago, around the time the civil and voting rights acts were made law, it was determined that Lee County Commissioner elections would be changed from “Single-Member-Districts” to the “Voting-at-Large” system. In simple terms, what this meant is that someone voting in another district, miles away, could cast the determining vote on whom would represent your district. This was made possible since a ballot allowed a vote to be cast in every (5) district, not just the voter’s district of residence. I’m sure you’re sitting there shaking your head saying, “That’s just not possible.” Unfortunately, in the case of Lee County, it is.
According to Lee County Charter Review studies this is in fact what has occurred in 13 of 30 elections studied. Voting-at-Large allowed the district’s choice to be changed by the overflow vote of another district. Picture this – John Doe and Jane Smith are running in the election for District A Commissioner. Jane Smith has 200 more votes cast by the district’s residents. She’s the new Commissioner for District A! Not necessarily. John Doe has garnered 500 votes from outside the district (combined votes from districts B,C, D and E) as compared to the 100 Jane received. Now John wins. Is this truly representative of what the voters have decided in their district? When it comes time to vote on issues that affect his district, do you think John Doe will remain accountable to the people of the district or to the folks that live miles away but cast a vote for him? In a perfect world you would hope that John does the right thing. However, we know that politics is far from perfect…and involves a lot of money.
Let’s talk about the money. If John Doe and Jane Smith were able to limit their campaigns to a single district, the costs would run approximately $35,000. This includes media, printing, office supplies, yard signs, mailings, gas etc. Since they must run a county-widecampaign the current estimated costs now escalate close to $200,000. Either John and Jane have to have very deep pockets or know quite a few friends county-wide that do! (Note: remember those votes from outside the district) This is the reason Tom Jones, without a doubt the best candidate for the job, never made it to the ballot. The cost was too high.
It’s time Lee County changed back from the flawed “Voting-at-Large” system to Five (5) Single-Member Districts. In 2008, this change was recommended by the Lee County Charter Review Commission by a 9-6 vote. Single-Member Districts were vastly supported at public hearings and by the ACLU, NAACP and LWV.
Justice and fairness are not being served by the current system. While we vote, we do not necessarily elect. If the value of one vote is somehow discounted, democracy is lost.
Only Single-Member District voting insures that every vote will count!
June 2, 2009
span>After the serious upset on Wall Street, questions began to be asked by many Americans! Just as his two predecessors did before him, President Hoover went to the Secretary of the Treasury Andrew W. Mellon (who would be considered a modern day Warren Buffet) to no avail. It had been speculated that “Short Selling” (the anticipation of making a profit from declining prices…expecting a drop in price. Selling the stock and buying it back later at a lower price leaves the difference as the profit). On November 23, 1929, The Economist asked: “Can a very serious Stock Exchange collapse produce a serious setback to industry when industrial production is for the most part in a healthy and balanced condition? … Experts are agreed that there must be some setback, but there is not yet sufficient evidence to prove that it will be long or that it need go to the length of producing a general industrial depression.” History later revealed that the experts were wrong, and it would only be World War II that would bring us out of the depression caused to the improprieties of those on Wall Street.
Just as the Economist was misguided, or shall we say wrong, in its publication almost eighty years ago, on Feb. 10th, the New York Times Reported that Sirius XM was in danger of filing for bankruptcy (implying a dire situation). Coming from such a trusted source (with its own stock dropping at the time, and the next month laying off 100 employees, cutting the salaries for the rest of the year by 5 percent) many share holders were surprised to hear that the company they had bought stock (NASDAQ: SIRI) at inviting rates, were decreasing while the company itself could boast in growth with a successful merger and an increase in subscribers. Something just was not adding up!
While the New York Times was letting go of employee’s, a press release came from the Sirius XM, with this quote from its president, “In the fourth quarter 2008, the company’s first full quarter of combined operations, SIRIUS XM made remarkable financial progress…For the first time in company history, we reached positive pro forma adjusted income from operations of $32 million, as compared with a loss of $224 million one year ago. Fourth quarter 2008 revenue of $644 million grew 16% over the year ago quarter while total cash operating expenses declined by 22%, a clear demonstration of our focus on improving profitability. Despite challenges in the overall economy and in the auto sector, we look forward to continuing to deliver on the synergies of the merger.” Can anyone remember what was happening around the last quarter of 2008? I can tell you! 1. GM, Chrysler, and Ford stood before Congress requesting a “Bail Out” 2. Bernie Madoff caused Billions of Dollars worth of damage to the pockets of investors due to his Ponzie Scheme and 3. Lehman Brothers was liquidated! What FACT would cause The New York Times, MSNBC, and other news channels to predict the demise (or bankruptcy filing) of their “Competition”, resulting in apparent stock fluctuations in the market?
With GM and Chrysler both declaring bankruptcy, common shareholders within Sirius XM Radio are asking questions, demanding answers, and not allowing other media outlets determine their fate, and why would they? With subscription rates second only to Comcast, Sirius XM appears to be a “Leader” in the industry, with no signs of letting up and neither is Liberty Media. Liberty Media CEO Greg Maffei stated, “We are excited to be investing in Sirius XM. We have been impressed with the company, its operations and management team…Sirius XM’s ability to grow subscribers and revenue in a difficult financial and auto market is indicative of how listeners view this as a ‘must have’ service.”
This “Must Have” service is being defended in the new documentary “STOCK SHOCK: The Short Selling of the American Dream” http://stockshockmovie.com/ . Directed by Sandra Mohr and Narrated by Richard Keane, it appears as if they are taking pieces of the puzzle from Stock holders, industry professionals, pages of history, a glimpse of the future, and are carefully putting them all together. This documentary expounds upon how easily the public can be, and has been fooled by propaganda initiated through the NYSE, profiting only a few while causing millions of others to lose countless hours of sleep and money!
This documentary reveals the not so obvious future that many, who are in competition with this service, would rather the people overlook; Sirius XM Radio will be around as long as the United States Government is backing automobile warranties and IPhones are giving subscribers the option to listen to this service outside of the car. It is the observation of this blogger that Sirius XM will be taken much more Seriously within the upcoming months. With both Michael Moor (Untitled production and currently filming) and Oliver Stone (“Money Never Sleeps” in Pre-Production) preparing to come out with films, also dealing with the American Financial system in some aspect, “Stock Shock” appears to be a precursor to many untold truths finally revealed this year!
Perhaps a President who silently guided America through the “Roaring 20’s” could share some basic truth upon our situation:
“After all, the chief business of the American people is business. They are profoundly concerned with producing, buying, selling, investing and prospering in the world.”
May 21, 2009
When President Woodrow Wilson went to Paris in 1918, he had one goal in mind. This goal was restoration and peace. Restoration to those oppressed nations that had suffered horribly during the Great War, and peace among all nations. As he introduced his 14 point plan, he spent 6 months in Paris negotiating, compromising, and holding true to the values revered so much by his American convictions! Once an agreement was made, all parties went home and frankly were happy the whole negotiation process was over. With negotiations quite strenuous to many parties, especially to Wilson, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, Wilson convinced Europe to join the League of Nations but was unsuccessful in convincing the United States Congress…especially those within the Senate. It is said that the stress behind not having the Senate’s support, brought on the severe stroke that left him paralyzed on one side and in bad shape during the final years of his administration.
Barak Obama got a taste of “making promises assuming that he has the support”, but when coming down to the vote, the Senate takes another direction. He had vowed on his second day in office to close the prison within a year as part of his effort to repair America’s tarnished image abroad. This vow will now be coupled with his game plan when he speaks at the National Archives; ironically former Vice-President Cheney will be speaking at the same time.
My question is: Why did the Senate turn their support from the President. A poll done at “The Escapist” (http://www.escapistmagazine.com/forums/read/18.90564?page=3) showed that 63.7 percent of those surveyed approved of the President’s move to close down the facility while 19.6 percent were against it. A CNN poll showed after asking the question, “Do you think the policies being proposed by Barack Obama will move the country in the right direction or the wrong direction?” Those who believed his proposed policies were in the right direction 63%, those who thought they were the wrong direction 35%. If these polls are the true voice of the American public, should not the representatives who represent these constituents also reflect these results?
The major concern spouted by Senate members stated that they were opposed to the prisoners being transported to prisons on American soil. Michele Flournoy, Pentagon policy chief, says it’s unrealistic to think that no detainees will come to the U.S., and that the U.S. can’t ask allies to take detainees while refusing to take on the same burden. Senator Harry Reid stated, “We will never allow terrorists to be released in the United States…Part of what we don’t want is for them to be put in prisons in the United States. We don’t want them around in the United States.” Where do you place the POW’s?
For members of congress to question the ability and strength of the American Prison System is walking a tight rope, and it also sends signals to our enemies that our domestic security is weak, and can be penetrated…which couldn’t be further from the truth. The United States has the highest incarceration rate in the entire world. As of the year 2000, our facilities include: 3,365 local jails, 1,558 state facilities, 146 federal facilities. As of January 17th 2007, 245 prisoners remained at Gitmo equaling to 1.67 persons going to each one of our Federal Facilities.
There is one member of the Senate that stood in support of the Presidents efforts. Dianne Feinstein, who not only gained in wealth during the war (by 2005 her net worth had increased to between $43 million and $99 million), had pretty good reason to stand behind her statements to bring the prisoners to US prisons. Stating, “I believe that American justice is what makes this country strong in the eyes of the world. American justice is what people believe separates the United States from other countries. And American justice has to be applied to everyone, because if it isn’t, we then become hypocrites in the eyes of the world.”, the Senator just stated what she was vested in emotionally and financially. Feinstein holds stock in the URS Corporation, which as a major U.S. federal contractor, URS provides critical support to the Departments of Defense (DoD), Homeland Security (DHS) and Energy (DOE), as well as to National Aeronautics Space Administration (NASA), Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and other federal agencies. (No wonder she’s on the Senate Intelligence Committee!)
Obama’s showdown today will tell whether or not Congress will stand behind the promise he made to the American People. Perhaps, he could use a little advice from a former President who has approached this similar problem:
“I would rather lose in a cause that will someday win, than win in a cause that will someday lose.”
~Former President Woodrow Wilson
May 19, 2009
Politics ought to be the part-time profession of every citizen who would protect the right and privileges of free people and who would preserve what is good and fruitful in our national heritage.
President Dwight David Eisenhower
During his address to congress, our president brought up an important point that has been largely lost in the debates that have followed. Barack Obama touched on the personality of America that has defined so much of our history and threatens our future.
Our president pointed out that we talk about lots of important issues but do little in our rush to the future. As President Obama pointed out we have talked about health care issues for almost 40 years but have done little. We have talked about reducing dependence on foreign oil for over 25 years. We have talked about improving our educational system for over 50 years.
The problems we are facing today are not new. They are the same problems we talked about yesterday and last year and the year before. The current economic situation is a great example.
There are no surprises with our current economic problems. Every 3 or 4 years since the inception of trickle down, or Reganonmics, we have had a financial crisis. Every 3 or 4 years since the beginning of deregulation and mega mergers there has been a financial situation that cost tax payers billions of dollars. Remember Black Monday. Or how about the Savings & Loan melt down with Silverado and the Keating Five. And Enron, and Worldcom, and the dotcom bust. Our recent history is strewn with economic disasters. Brought about by the economic philosophy that has dominated for the last 25 years.
Our president has a new vision for America. A vision that sees caring for our infrastructure instead of watching 70 year old technology crumble in the face of Hurricane Katrina. Earthen levees and aging pumps left as the Maginot line of defense for a major American city. Following Katrina many pictures appeared showing modern systems in European and even African countries of updated systems that efficiently controlled water and produced beneficial results like electric production and irrigation. President Obama is suggesting we care for and upgrade our infrastructure so there are no more bridge collapses ( a recent article suggested that up to 60% of bridges in the United States are deficient from lack of maintenance). Invest in America first.
For all of our talk about ending dependence on foreign oil, we have stood by and witnessed the rape of the planet we call home. We have watched her resources plundered at increasingly alarming rates. We stand idly by as the planet is destroyed in the name of progress. Clear mountain streams are turning into fetid flows of polluted waters that no longer cool and refresh. Our lust for the earth’s treasures that are then burned creating a second destructive force of released carbon gases that alter the atmosphere, is unquenchable. One spill of the plundered resources can destroy an entire ecological system that took millions of years to develop and balance. The current administration wants to stop talking about dependence on foreign oil by advancing renewable energy sources. Solar systems, wind power, wave power, hydrogen cells. Jobs for Americans using technology developed by Americans. Germany, France and Japan are leading the world in renewable energy usage, all with technology developed in the United States.
The second major issue our president is addressing is health care. We lead the world with medical technology, but we lag the world in the area of efficient health care administration. Untold hours of unproductive time are spent completing insurance forms because every company has a unique form. Access to medical records is time consuming because they are not computerized and transmittable. The cost of maintaining antiquated billing and record keeping systems adds millions to our health care costs. We have the best health care system in the world. We ought to listen to our president and find ways to deliver it as efficiently as possible.
Education was the single greatest factor in building a middle class America that was the envy of the world. Our education system is based on the early 1900’s idea of identifying and nurturing future managers and supervisors. The system allowed all others to struggle along until they either gave up in frustration or completed required courses at a minimal level. The administration envisions an updating of educational objectives and approaches to meet the needs of today. Modernizing education is the first step to a rebirth of the middle class. Ubder the present structure there is a declining middle class that comes closer and loser to the national poverty level.
Eliminating the economic uncertainty of tomorrow by creating new jobs to lower our dependence on fossil fuels, improving our quality of life by renewing our infrastructure with an attention to environmental issues; updating and modernizing the administration of healthcare to match the quality of available care; and insuring our future by improving education. Huge but obtainable goals that can lead us out of the morass that we face today and into a future where the American dream and the reality of America come closer together. It is not about the dollars or how much we pay in taxes. Countries that have tax rates over 50% currently have some of the highest living standards in the world. Look at Sweden and Iceland and Denmark. Like everything else it is about what you get for your investment. We can get the best by investing wisely in the programs President Obama has advocated.
The missing piece is us, the American public. Our hands off approach to government must come to an end. Our chosen form of government requires citizen intervention. Some of the most famous words of President Dwight Eisenhower and President John Kennedy encourage us to be involved. It is acceptance of lesser standards that allow the abuses of government functions. As citizens we have a higher calling than to just show up to vote, we have a patriotic duty to be aware, and be involved. We have a responsibility to future generations to pass on the best that we can do.
May 18, 2009
With a cool breeze coming from the St. Joseph River, excitement filled the air in South Bend, Indiana. South Bend has come a long way since its “Fur Trading” days and now supports a population of over 300,000, with steep economic ties to its main draw…The University of Notre Dame. Not surprisingly, the “Fighting Irish” was first an all male institution, just like many in its’ day, but today its founders would not have imagined, that an intelligent young lady would be giving the valedictorian address and representing the class of 2009. I am quite sure that there was another player in today’s ceremonies that the founders did not have in mind; a pro life, African-American, United States President, receiving a honorary doctorate from a university shrouded in Catholic Tradition. As the crowd descended upon the campus, all were there for different reasons, but all could not deny that one common thread tied their purposes together…Dr. Obama.
The act of awarding Honoarary Doctorate’s is a tradition that has been in practice since the Middle Ages. Within the United States, we can see the practice affecting even our forefathers (Ben Franklin received an honorary doctorate from the University of St. Andrews in 1759 and the University of Oxford in 1762 for his scientific accomplishments.) Controversies surrounding these awards have been also become somewhat of a custom, especially in America.
Students seemed to be up in arms when the Southampton College decided to bestow an honorary doctorate to a figure that had reshaped the lives of children across the world…Kermit the Frog. Although some students objected to awarding a degree to a Muppet, Kermit delivered an enjoyable commencement address and the small college received considerable press coverage. On the 300th commencement ceremony at Yale University, it was thought only fitting that the sitting President and also former Yale graduate George W. Bush, be awarded an honorary doctorate; walking out of the ceremonies, some students and teachers did not agree with the University.
The year’s old debate of pro-choice and pro-life fueled the fire of some protestors who protested outside of Notre Dame University as the President received his Honorary Doctorate. Being fully aware of their concern, Barack Obama stated “head on” his stance and feelings regarding the matter, “Maybe we won’t agree on abortion, but we can still agree that this is a heart-wrenching decision for any woman to make, with both moral and spiritual dimensions. So let’s work together to reduce the number of women seeking abortions by reducing unintended pregnancies, and making adoption more available, and providing care and support for women who do carry their child to term. Let’s honor the conscience of those who disagree with abortion, and draft a sensible conscience clause, and make sure that all of our health care policies are grounded in clear ethics and sound science, as well as respect for the equality of women.”
Although disrupted twice by hecklers, his message was received by those in which the message was intended to reach…the graduates. Little was said regarding the demeanor kept by the graduating class, when protests began around the campus this past week. Although interviewed by pundits and news anchors, the students approached this matter in a very mature manner…by welcoming the voice of a person that, although not always in agreement with, they were willing to pull out the nuggets of truth and wisdom from the advice he was willing to share with them on this, their historic moment.
One may ask; Are the students that took part in the ceremony today, examples of the kind of diplomacy that we can expect to see in our future? If so, can peace at home be a tangible reality as well as peace in the Middle East?
Perhaps Dr. Kermit the Frog stated this situation best, and how we can approach it:
“…you are no longer tadpoles. The time has come for you to drop your tails and leave this swamp. But I am sure that wherever I go as I travel around the world, I will find each and every one of you working your tails off to save other swamps and give those of us who live there a chance to survive. We love you for it.”
Dr. Kermit the Frog
May 14, 2009
When trying a murder trial, evidence can make or break the decision which could determine one’s freedom. It is for this cause, prosecuters try their very best to have as much evidence as possible when pushing a jury for conviction. This evidence is important because no one in the courtroom were present at the time of the incident, no one but the defendant; and his/her integrity is in question. Proving his/her guilt or innocence would be much easier if there were some type of evidence that could paint a clearer picture of what happened during the incident. In many cases, a picture of the crime being commited “in the act” would easily acquit or convict, but having that picture is a rare find to a prosecutor…except for those prosecuting against the treatment of prisoners at Abu Ghraib. Some (but not all) pictures were released before, giving insight to the treatment of prisoners at the detention facility, but this month the rest of the pictures were scheduled to be released…until The White House told the press that Obama would fight the release of dozens of photographs showing the abuse of terrorism suspects. What’s in the photo’s?
Barack Obama received some unexpected praise today from Republican Senator Graham regarding his decision. Harshly criticizing the President’s stimulus package during the beginning of the administration, and questioning the “Change” Obama touted during his campaign, the Senator praised Obama for choosing to act as Commander in Chief without letting politics sway his decision. In another surprising move, the Senator admitted defeat in challenging the Stimulus Package, and encouraged South Carolina Governor to accept the stimulus money.
The American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU and advocating for the photos’ release, expressed outrage and said the decision “makes a mockery” of Obama’s campaign promise of transparency. “It’s absolutely essential that these photos be released so the public can examine for itself the torture and abuse that was conducted in its name, and so that high-level officials who authorized or permitted that abuse can be held accountable,” ACLU attorney Amrit Singh said.
A poll done by the Los Angeles Times Indicated:
Should President Obama release the photos showing alleged abuse of detainees by U.S. personnel?
Yes, release all the photos. We need to know the full extent of detainee abuse under the Bush administration.
Yes, but with caveats. The administration should be careful about which photos it releases.
No. Obama is correct: Releasing the photos would put our troops in Afghanistan and Iraq in more danger.
2005 total responses
The President has defended his actions by stating that releasing the photo’s “would not add any additional benefit to our understanding of what was carried out in the past by a small number of individuals…In fact, the most direct consequence of releasing them, I believe, would be to further inflame anti-American opinion and to put our troops in greater danger,” Obama told reporters. “Moreover, I fear the publication of these photos may only have a chilling effect on future investigations of detainee abuse.” With a future trip to Egypt planned later this month, Obama is clinging to National Security as his main reason for blocking the release of the photo’s; while also discouraging a truth commission from being formed, which is supported by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.
One must wonder, what actions are depicted in these photo’s that would reignite anti-American feelings? It has been hinted that these pictures are not as vulgar as the pictures released before hand. If this is the case, why drag out this painful part of America’s past and get these photo’s out and into the hands of American people.
Witholding these photo’s only further ignite conspiracy theorists, and clouds the transparency of this new administration with dirt from it’s predecessors. Would these pictures further sway public opinion towards influencing their representatives to prosecute members of the former Administration. A bigger question is; if the previous administration broke the law, why are we hesitant to prosecute? Could it mean that many more representatives(other than the republicans associated with the Bush Administration) were fully aware of the going on’s within the prison, and did not stand up for right?
It has been argued that the descisions made by the former administration, was made swiftly with only the concern of preventing the death of more American lives. Did this protection warrant us to break our treaty signed with the United Nations; and if this treaty endangers America’s National Security…why do we honor it?
Perhaps that fine General could shed some light within our current plight:
I am concerned for the security of our great Nation; not so much because of any threat from without, but because of the insidious forces working from within.
General Douglas MacArthur
May 12, 2009
Contests typically draw controversy. At the present moment, Al Franken and Norm Coleman are currently winding down a very closely run contest for the Minnesota Senate seat. Some controversies can last for decades, while others can last for days. There are even instances where the public will never be aware of the controversies surrounding some contests whose results are made public.
The latest Controversy, was in part brought to an end today, but raises some very interesting questions, and could affect the progress related to the agenda of Human/Civil Rights Campaigns.
Today in a Press Conference, Donald Trump (Owner of the Miss USA/Universe Contest) announced that regardless of the public comments made by Miss California and Miss USA Runner up, Carrie Prejean, that she would retain her crown. This decision came not 24 hours after the administrators of the Miss California Contest “fired” Ms Prejean, due to “Violation of Contract”.
During the Miss USA Pageant, blogger Perez Hilton , who was described as “doing his thing” by Donald Trump, asked a question regarding her support of Gay Marriage. She responded, predicated with her intent not to offend anyone, that in “My America” marriage is defined between a man and a woman. Today, she was encouraged to reiterate her belief, aligning herself with the current belief of the President and Secretary of State (who was also a Presidential Candidate). Supported by Mr. Trump (who refused to answer questions regarding his own personal belief on the subject) , Ms Prejean proudly encouraged others to use her experience as inspiration when standing up for their beliefs, regardless of the negative backlash that might accompany it.
A very serious question must now be posed: When does one’s opinion regarding the Definition of Marriage infringe on the obstruction of civil liberties? And; will the denial of Same-Sex marriage be looked at in the same manner as we look at inter-racial marriage today (which is still looked upon negatively in certain parts of the country).
One must remember that it was a little over 40 years ago, that it was still illegal for interracial couples to be married. Leon Brazile (who was a trial judge in the case) echoed the rhetoric of German Physician Johann Frierich Blumenbach who stated, “Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And but for the interference with his arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix.” The pivotal vote taken by the DC City Council to recognized such marriages, sparked the legislation that was seen before the Supreme Court, which in turn descended that, “Marriage is one of the “basic civil rights of man,” fundamental to our very existence and survival…. To deny this fundamental freedom on so unsupportable a basis as the racial classifications embodied in these statutes, classifications so directly subversive of the principle of equality at the heart of the Fourteenth Amendment, is surely to deprive all the State’s citizens of liberty without due process of law. The Fourteenth Amendment requires that the freedom of choice to marry not be restricted by invidious racial discrimination. Under our Constitution, the freedom to marry, or not marry, a person of another race resides with the individual and cannot be infringed by the State.
During the Press Conference, the President’s view of marriage was touted by both Mr. Trump and Ms Prejean. Another important question must be posed: Will President Obama support legislation to legalize Gay Marriage? If he does not, does this make him as bigoted as those who did not support his candidacy because of his color?
Today, the celebrated “opinion” of Miss California, has placed the Human Rights Campaign in an awkward position. They could use this decision to press the Gay Marriage Debate to the forefront to gain definite results, or they could regroup and reanalyze their stance on the subject, which could result in the whole subject to be dropped all together. What do you think?
Perhaps a voice from the past could help shed light on this subject:
All, too, will bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will to be rightful must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal law must protect, and to violate would be oppression.
For 89 years, the White House Correspondents Association has been hosting a dinner at the Washington Hilton. Some of the biggest names our time have played this event, singing, dancing, and roasting the President of the United States. Jimmy Durante (and his nose) made the crowds laugh, while Bob Hope’s criticism was always taken in stride…he usually golfed with the President. Yakov Smirnoff had a unique play on words that tickled the funny bones of correspondents, while Al Franken was busy making as many friends with the core as possible (he would need their assistance in the future). None of these legendary performances were talked about in the media on Monday, it was the comments of Wanda Sykes and President Obama that took the show.
Wanda Sykes made comments during her big night, that some considered a step too far, about one of the most outspoken conservative radio talk show hosts in America, Rush Limbaugh. A reference to a remark made by Limbaugh at the beginning of the President’s term, caused Sykes to weight in on what sounded like a personal opinion of Rush Limbaugh. While in a statement Limbaugh stated that he hoped the President fails, Sykes gave her remedy in the hopes that the radio host’s kidney’s would fail. This joke received mixed reactions, but no one from the correspondence dinner left the event in protest, or even disgust. Sykes was congratulated for giving a “stellar” performance, and the night went on.
When does a joke go too far?? One may ask, if the word “joke” is replaced in that question, perhaps we could get to the bottom of a lot of problems. For instance:
When does policy go too far?
When does bigatry go too far?
When does war go too far?
When does torture go too far?
There are many questions, once again I reiterate, that must be answered long before we question the seriousness of “Jokes” told about a man who is accused weekly of offending at least 1,000 people. For an example;
On the October 23, 2006 edition of his radio show, Limbaugh imitated on the “Ditto Cam” (the webcam for website subscribers to see him on the air) the physical symptoms of actor Michael J. Fox, who has Parkinson’s disease. He said “(Fox) is exaggerating the effects of the disease. He’s moving all around and shaking and it’s purely an act … This is really shameless of Michael J. Fox. Either he didn’t take his medication or he’s acting.”
With the boldness to criticize the disabled, I think Rush Limbaugh does not need the press to “stand-up” for him…he’s a big boy!
While journalists today debated whether or not Wanda Sykes took her jokes to far; U.S.-born journalist Roxana Saberi was set free today after an Iranian appeal court cut her eight-year jail sentence for spying to a suspended two-year term. Saberi, a former Miss North Dakota, looked thin and tired at Sunday’s hearing. Last week, her father said she had ended a two-week hunger strike and was “very weak.” The judiciary denied she had refused food, and said she was in good health.
Althought correspondents had the chance today to reflect on a “risque” joke they heard while enjoying some fantasic food and being surrounded by celebrities, Saberi was in prison, refusing food, and listening to the daunting noise of imprisonment…my how our priorities have fallen.
Priorities in the media vary, but regardless of how far the envelope is pushed, comedy will still be comedy. Perhaps that great comedian could shed some light on how to view the status of this situation:
“Satire is tragedy plus time. You give it enough time, the public, the reviewers will allow you to satirize it. Which is rather ridiculous, when you think about it” ~Lenny Bruce