Roland Burris is now on hiatus...from the media.
And so falls a once highly-regarded public servant onto the sword of his own ambitions, as he takes the last refuge for public servants who cannot explain their misdeeds - hiding.
You may recall that Burris' entry into the Senate was paved by his testimony that he NEVER spoke with, nor offered anything to, anyone working with now-impeached Governor Rod Blagojevich This was a critical declaration, as Blago basically said he was trying to sell the seat to the highest bidder.
NOW Burris releases an affidavit saying he HAD spoken to several Blagojevich advisers, including Blago's brother and finance chair, Robert Blagojevich. Burris said Bo-Blago called three times last fall asking for fundraising help. Apparently, using the Clinton marijuana defense, Burris says he tried, but did not succeed, in raising money for Blago.
The U.S. Senate Ethics Committee is now investigating, and Democrats are calling for Burris' resignation and an investigation into perjury charges.
The Associated Press reports that Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin, said Wednesday that "the accuracy and completeness" of Burris' testimony and affidavits "have been called into serious question."
"Every day there are more and more revelations about contacts with Blagojevich advisers, efforts at fundraising and omissions from his list of lobbying clients. This was not the full disclosure under oath that we asked for," Durbin said in a statement.
Ever the avoider of hard political choices, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he's not calling for Burris to resign even though the account of how he was appointed "seems to be changing day by day."
Even Blago's replacement, Democratic Governor Pat Quinn, is weighing in. "It was a gigantic mistake for Roland Burris to even accept an appointment from Rod Blagojevich," said Democratic Governor Pat Quinn. "He's having to deal with that now." (Of course, in fairness, Quinn is probably just peeved that Blago snaked the right to appoint from him before he could get it.)
But there is no way this seat stays Democrat at a special election. Way to wreck your own state and sully your entire career, Roland!
Thursday, February 19, 2009
Roland Burris is now on hiatus...from the media.
Thursday, February 12, 2009
Friday, February 6, 2009
Not really. Not for our national hero, Michael Phelps. USA Swimming suspended him for three months, and Kellogg cancelled his endorsement contract after a photo of him using a marijuana pipe made internet rounds.
I don't use marijuana. But under the category of "youthful indiscretions," I list the single occasion when I tried it. And unlike Bill Clinton, I did inhale. As hard as I possibly could. But despite my best efforts, it had absolutely no effect. I didn't yell, "I'm a golden god" and jump from a rooftop. Nobody was funnier. Nobody crept up on me. I didn't even notice a propensity to say, "duuuuude."
People will say, "Oh, you didn't do it right," or "it wasn't good stuff." Really? Well, let's just say that I got it backstage at a concert from a guy who we'll call "Snizoop Dizzogg" to protect his real identity. And when the regular method failed, Mr. Dizzogg and his associates burned a batch in a crock pot that I put my head in and covered with a towel like I was treating a cold. Still nothing. Apparently, for straight-laced guys like me, marijuana is so subtle, you can't even tell you're using it.
But I know this. I've never heard of anybody dying from smoking marijuana -- not from operating while intoxicated, not from getting angry in a bar fight, and not from lung cancer. I'm not saying it's NEVER happened; I'm just saying I've never read about it. But I have heard of millions of tobacco deaths and hundreds of thousands of alcohol-related deaths.
But marijuana is the drug for which we spend hundreds of millions annually in law enforcement and Department of Correction costs?!? Dogmatic law enforcement types will tell you marijuana is a gateway drug. For some people, it is. But nowhere near as much as cigarettes and alcohol are.
Isn't it time to admit yet that, from a public health perspective, we've backed the wrong horses, and marijuana isn't serious?
Look at the statement issued by USA Swimming on Phelps:
"This is not a situation where any ANTI-DOPING rule was violated...."
You're telling me they aren't laughing at their own double-entendre?
USA Swimming goes on to say that Phelps has to "earn back our trust." How did Michael Phelps betray us? By showing that you can still destroy your competition while periodically being half-baked? By pulling back the curtain on this ludicrous American marijuana morality play?
All we can say is that Phelps broke the law by using a non-sanctioned drug. But, the older I get, the more the arbitrariness and hypocrisy of what we have chosen to criminalize (or NOT to criminalize) in this country disgusts me. It's not based on public health concerns; it's based solely on how much money is made by the politically-influential businesses that control those drugs. This is why underaged drinking will never be criminalized as heavily as marijuana possession at any age, even though the former results in people dying at colleges across America. (You see, beer sponsors are the cash cow that drives almost ALL of our hero-worship enterprises, a/k/a "the professional sports industrial complex").
Kellogg said it dropped Phelps because his behavior is "not consistent with the image of Kellogg." Are they serious? The only image anybody has of Kellogg is a tiger in a kerchief shilling for his frosted flakes by telling us how greeeeeeaaaaattt they are.
For his part, Phelps has acknowledged "bad judgment." But one can't help but wonder whether most people see the "bad judgment" as using marijuana...or using it publicly. I doubt most people would say, "Mr. Phelps, please stop. This is bad for YOU," had this been something only THEY knew. No, most would say, "Do what you want, Mr. Phelps, but don't EVER make us rethink what we've already made up our mind about, or force us to explain our great American hypocrisies to our kids." It's too disconcerting for most Americans to have their assumptions challenged.
Stay tuned for part two on American hypocrisy later in the week....