Showing posts with label George W. Bush. Show all posts
Showing posts with label George W. Bush. Show all posts

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

'All About Ann' - the beginning of the end

I love a good movie, especially if it has a good story behind it. I'm all about the story. This morning I watched "All about Ann: Governor Richards of the Lone Star State.

Those were the days!
CHBlog: Ann Richards
Texas Governor Ann Richards-Wikipedia
I remember Ann Richards very well, as her tenure in the Texas mansion, occurred during what was the dawn of my own political interest. I was in the thick of it--fighting Illinois Republicans' effort to build a new airport in Illinois--where even today, its only success has been on paper.
I admired Richards. She was spunky, unafraid, and really quick-witted, but with a caring side steeped in a love of the people she represented. It was easy to relate to her. All the cards seemed stacked against her, yet she continued to work hard, driven by what she believed in. She would not be bullied by the good ole' boys; those traditionalists we know today as the gods and guns crowd. She fought the good fight to become the first woman to be elected governor in the State of Texas. Texans were better for it too. She was a popular governor, accomplishing much of what she set out to do. She was a champion for women, minorities, and generally, all the people in her state. She established alcohol and drug abuse programs for prisoner inmates. She knew from where she spoke, as as admitted alcoholic. Such honesty and high achievements didn't sit well with the state's elite, who was used to doing it only one way; their way. They suffered through one term by the liberal governor, but were not about to deal with another. Thus began in my opinion,  America's darkest days, days for which we have yet to emerge.

Just a one-term governor, Ann Richards' tenure came to an abrupt halt in 1994 when she was defeated by George W. Bush.

I remember watching the election returns. Her defeat was a blow to me personally and to the country as a whole. Hers was one of the most important races in the country, because if she fell, others would too. And they did. 

As I watched the movie this morning, I could recall the moment I heard she was defeated. It was like a stake in the heart of everything I believed politics to be. After all, my own personal cynicism had not yet taken hold by that time.

I admit I was more interested in local politics then; I was just beginning to learn the players on the national stage. I hadn't watched the Texas governors' race closely, but I knew enough to know that defeating Ann Richards was big in 1994, and not in a good way. 

Looking back, I think that moment in time was the beginning of the end of our democracy. That one race made a difference that set in motion a destructive turn of events.

If only Richards had won re-election, Bush would not have been governor of Texas. That would likely have precluded his moving to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. I can only dream of how great that would have been. Imagine: no Iraq war, no Supreme Court nominees, no September 11, 2001, no homeland security, no Dick Cheney, no Rumsfeld's war machine, no NSA spying,... Al Gore would likely have been allowed to serve after being elected. The problems we are now facing with climate change would have been minimized rather than exacerbated. The things connected to Bush's presidency are mind-boggling and to me, represent everything I abhor in politics.

The movie portrayed Bush's campaign against Richards as a whisper campaign, orchestrated by the brilliantly devious Karl Rove. The campaign quietly, but effectively painted a false picture and used television ads and lies and innuendos on campaign fliers about Ann Richards. They called her a lesbian because she employed people who happened to be gay or lesbian. The National Rifle Association (NRA) opposed her, even though she had her own firearms and knew how to use them. Rove was relentless. These are people who want to win at all cost and don't have the ethics not to cheat to do it. Think hanging chads, a biased Supreme Court decisions, gerrymandered congressional districts, voter registration purges, Citizens United, and the latest campaign finance free-for-all. It all started with Karl Rove and George W. Bush. It continues with no end in sight.
 
Whisper campaigns are nothing new; these types of campaigns have gone on for as long as the country has held elections. But today, whisper campaigns are on steroids with the advent of unlimited spending, unscrupulous media sources, and completely unethical behavior. The whispers are now deafening. Efforts to persuade voters has become commonplace, because potential voters are becoming less interested and less engaged in politics. 

People don't like politics. It is a dirty word. Admittedly so, but participation of an informed electorate is the only hope for a working democracy. With a constant assault on the Middle Class and women's rights, worker's rights, and the ever-widening chasm between the have's and have-not's, it is more important than ever that potential voters be informed.

In fact, that is the only way to once again elect decent representatives that will work for the good of all the people and not just their pals. Potential voters have to be able to see through the tactics and know enough to differentiate fact from fiction. They need to take issue with falsehoods and those who tell them. Truth needs to be defended with honor again. There need to be more candidates like Ann Richards. 

Ann Richards died seven years ago, but she left behind a legacy and an example. We should settle for no less.


In November, there is an opportunity for voters to do the right thing for today and tomorrow. We must vote for candidates that can see farther than the nose on their faces; candidates that emphasize what is good for all and that which will better our world community as a whole. Candidates stuck in the 1950's will not solve the problems of the 21st Century. We must all get informed and to whatever extent, get involved.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Barack Obama must win a second term

Official photographic portrait of US President...
US President Barack Obama 
I feel confident that Barack Obama will win a second term in the White House. I say that partially because I cannot imagine any other scenario. Like so many others, I have watched this race with Mitt Romney intensely. I've studied the debates; read all the pundits; and engaged every way possible. There should be no contest. On character alone, Obama is head and shoulders above his challenger. Obama wins on substance, temperament, intellect, diplomacy, integrity, and just about every other way.

I have not, however, donated money to the campaign, for two reasons. 

First, I stand by the principle that elections should not be bought. The Citizens United decision by the U.S. Supreme Court that basically threw out any monetary restrictions in campaign finance is immoral and unethical, in my opinion. I plan to support any effort in the future that will negate this blunder by the corporate-heavy, prejudicial court. 

Probably more importantly, I just don't have money to throw into the political arena. Paying bills and taking care of necessities is a much more responsible avenue in my fixed-income household. I'm at least grateful there is enough to pay for the necessities. 

Just because I am not throwing money at my President does not mean I don't support his candidacy. In fact, any of my Facebook friends will attest that I am a big Obama supporter. I have literally devoted hours in an effort to debunk the lies, distortions, and misrepresentations from my 'friends.' If I got paid for the 'writing' I've done on the subject, my personal economic situation would be greatly improved. That however, is not, nor has never been my goal. I have long endeavored in support for causes that I believe in, not because of what I could get out of it, but for what I could put into it. 

While I definitely do not agree with every policy or decision, I have been proud of the leadership in the White House. I cannot say the same thing for challenger, Mitt Romney. To me, Romney epitomizes everything that appalls me. Born with the proverbial silver spoon in his mouth, he really doesn't stand for anything. Despite his participation in his church, he doesn't appear to me to be a moral character. That is another topic for another time.

While Mitt Romney may have done some good things in his life, I'd be willing to bet he benefited by them. He is the kind of man whose deeds are the main course; while any other benefit to anyone else is merely a side dish. He is a bully, void of empathy. He has harmed countless people for his own gain. To me, that is the lowest form of human behavior. I certainly don't want that type of person leading our country.

I've been amazed at how many people simply hate Obama. It is painfully obvious that irrational feelings of hatred stem from varying levels of racial bias because Obama's father was African-American. The election of this President has caused bigotry to rise to the surface, largely by fringe groups of white, Christians who still judge people by the color of their skin, but even by some who don't admit their prejudices. I find it incredible and frightening that in 21st Century America there are still people so filled with racism--a racism so ingrained in them that it colors their views and perceptions. It is so appalling.

Mitt Romney is the stereotypical white, rich guy that probably never knew the joy of getting his hands dirty. A man of privilege for his entire life, he doesn't know what he is missing. 

How could anyone think he could lead a country where only one percent of the population is like him? Romney's role on the national stage should be limited to that of economic adviser, because that is what he knows. But as the leader of a country that is so diverse, a Romney presidency would be worse than what was experienced under the George W. Bush administration. I never dreamed anyone could be worse than Bush, but I believe Romney would be. While he may be a good business manager, running a country is far more complex and requires skills he does not have. A country is all about its people--something Romney is not very good at. 

Running a country is not about simply descending the stairs from a perch in an ivory tower, writing a few pink slips, and then retreating to the country club to joke about it with friends. 

I am sickened at how the marketing of Mitt Romney has influenced so many people--including many of my friends and family. How can people be so blind as to fall for the faux facts, targeted policies aimed at the audience, plans that change with the wind, and his refusal to answer questions? Where is the substance in this man? 

Mitt Romney has turned the leadership of the country into a game. He wants to win it and he will win at any cost. This isn't about leadership of the country we all hold dear; it is about winning. 

What appalls me the most is that people are not just allowing it but are encouraging it. They have convinced themselves that he is what they see in front of them. In reality what they see is an actor--a made-up for the camera robot with no heart. Funny, they voted for George W. Bush because they thought he was a nice guy, only to learn how wrong they were. These are people who lack the depth of understanding to vote for the person that will do the best job managing our country as just one of many in an increasingly  complex world. I just don't think Mitt Romney is up to the task. 
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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

George Ryan's ups and downs for freedom

The road to justice has been a long and winding one – both for convicted Ex-Governor George Ryan and the people of Illinois whom he defrauded.

A serious blow came to Ryan when President George W. Bush exited the White House without granting clemency for Ryan, the man who chaired Bush's Illinois campaign for President in 2000. This was despite a plea to the Ex-President from Ryan's wife Lura Lynn. Even Illinois' senior senator, Dick Durbin and an-other beleaguered Ex-Governor, Rod Blagojevich, asked for Ryan's release from prison, sug-gesting that his sentence be satis-fied by time served.

Ryan has served one year of his six- and one-half-year sen-tence after being convicted for a litany of corruption charges.

But, expect a new string of support letters to once again head toward 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. on Ryan's behalf. Jim Thompson, another Ex-Governor who is also the high-powered attorney who fought to keep Ryan out of jail for as long as possible, says he will ask Presi-dent Barack Obama for clem-ency for his client.

Thompson told WBEZ radio recently that President Obama has known Ryan since the two worked together in Springfield for a time. Thompson is prepar-ing a new application using the argument that Ryan's continued imprisonment doesn't appear to have deterred other politicians from corrupt activities.

RYAN'S PENSION

In conjunction with Ryan's 2006 conviction, he was stripped of his pension. It amounted to about $197,000 annually.

But the appellate court over-turned the circuit court, ruling earlier this month stating that Ryan could retain the pension he earned from public service prior to his terms as Secretary of State and Governor.

Ryan had also served in the state legislature and as lieutenant governor. According to the high court, he is entitled to keep about $65,000 annually.

But Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, who was the first to argue that Ryan should not receive any of his pension, plans to appeal the decision.

At the time of his conviction, she issued a detailed opinion that the convicted felon should be stripped of his pension benefits.

Cook County Circuit Judge Martin Agran agreed with her. He upheld the unanimous ruling of the General Assembly Re-tirement System board that voted to deny Ryan his annual pension.

Madigan said at the time that Ryan forfeited all of his pension benefits, not merely those that accrued during the eight years that he served as Governor and Secretary of State. She also re-quested that he receive a timely and full refund of the contribu-tions he made to the system.

NOBEL PRIZE NOMINEE

There is at least one advocate of Ryan's deeds who has been consistent in his support. Uni-versity of Illinois law professor Francis Boyle, who has long ad-vocated abolishing the death penalty, has placed Ryan's name in nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize for the seventh time.

Boyle says his continuing nomination encourages aware-ness of the issue of capital pun-ishment. Boyle said 37 execu-tions occurred in 2008, a down-ward trend that began with Ryan's death penalty morato-rium.

Ryan did away with Illinois' death row in 2003 before leaving office.
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Monday, December 1, 2008

George Ryan sentence should stand

What are U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin and Gov. Rod Blagojevich thinking? Are they really considering asking President George W. Bush to commute the sentence of former Illinois Governor George Ryan?

Ryan was indicted in federal court on Dec. 17, 2003. The charges alleged that he accepted free vacations and other perks while doling out state contracts to lobbyist friends. Ryan was convicted on all counts against him April 17, 2006. On Sept. 6, he was sentenced to 6 ½ years in prison for racketeering, conspir-acy and fraud. Ryan reported to a Wisconsin prison Nov. 7, 2007. In February of this year, he was transferred to his present location -- the penitentiary in Terre Heute, Indiana.

George Ryan is not just an eld-erly man who spends idle time contemplating how he ended up behind bars, or how he could have done things differently. He is not just a loving grandpa and devoted husband, father, and brother, although he may very well be all those things.

It is what else there is about George Ryan that has put him in prison and should keep him there. He grabbed power from his position of authority and held the fate of people’s lives in his hands. He treated the responsi-bility that accompanies that power with little or no respect. I can attest that if you disagreed with George Ryan, you were treated with the utmost disdain. While he was good to his own circle of friends and those who could provide perks to him, he did not offer the same courtesy to everyone else.

George Ryan is a convicted felon, whose jail time is the re-sult of the justice system finally doing its job, despite climbing deliberately through every loop-hole available to circumvent it.

It mustn’t be forgotten that Ryan and his pro-bono legal team, led by one of the former governor boys’ club members, tried every angle to work the system in Ryan’s favor to keep him out of jail. This was despite George Ryan being the cause of pain, suffering, and even death in his routine dealings as Secre-tary of State and later as Gover-nor of the State of Illinois.

George Ryan treated Illinois as his own personal fiefdom and he has no regrets or remorse for his actions.

It seemed to take forever for Ryan to actually be sent to prison – many months after he was convicted and sentenced. To let him out of jail after serving such a short portion of his 6 ½ year sentence would, in my opin-ion, be a slap in the face of every Illinois resident. Similar senti-ments have been echoed by nu-merous newspaper editorials, surveys, commentaries and blogs. My voice is just one more in the mix.

Bush has granted 171 pardons and commuted the sentence of eight people during his eight years as president. The latest round came last month when Bush issued 14 pardons. Ryan’s name was not among them, nor should it be.
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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

High court rejects Ryan appeal, Bush pardon seen as last option

The curtain is about to fall on chances for freedom for ex-Governor George Ryan.

Short of a Presidential pardon, Ryan will remain in prison to serve his 6 1/2 year sentence for corruption. And that is just what is being considered by Ryan’s high-powered legal team led by ex-Gov. James Thompson.

Thompson is planning to ask President George W. Bush to commute Ryan’s sentence. This comes after the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear Ryan’s appeal and that of Ryan’s co-convicted ex-business partner Lawrence Warner.

The pair was convicted April 17, 2006, of multiple counts of racketeering, conspiracy, mail fraud, obstruction of justice, money laundering, and tax violation while Ryan served as Secretary of State.

Ryan is expected to be released from prison in 2013, but with a Bush pardon, his release could be right around the corner.

Speculation is high about whether or not Bush would consider granting a pardon to the disgraced ex-governor. Some claim that Republican ties are strong enough to encourage such an act, yet others believe there is little parity between Bush and Ryan politics. The most stark example of that is Ryan’s moratorium on the death penalty, something that Bush clearly favors.

Ryan himself might be overlooked for a Bush pardon, but it could come as a favor to longtime Republican fundraiser Thompson.

Once requested, Bush will have until his last day in office, January 19, to make a decision as many other former presidents have done.

Thompson has taken the legal proceedings as far as he could, maintaining that because of some irregularities with the jury in the six-month trial for Ryan and his pal two years ago, the two did not receive a fair trial. Thompson’s opinion was bolstered by the sole dissent in the Court of Appeals and a minority opinion by Circuit Judges who ultimately refused to rehear Ryan’s case. But that argument failed to convince a federal appeals court to grant a new trial. And, it failed to sway the nation’s high court.

Last November U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens refused to allow Ryan to stay out of jail while his case was being appealed to the high court.

In April, U.S. Solicitor General Paul Clement filed a brief stating that the U.S. Supreme Court should refuse to hear the appeal of convicted ex-Governor George Ryan.

The U.S. Solicitor General argues for the Government of the United States in front of the U.S. Supreme Court when the government is involved in a case.

Clement said complaints about jurors were misguided and a hearing was not warranted.

Ryan reported to prison in November 2007 to serve a six and one-half year sentence. He was initially sent to Oxford Institution, in Wisconsin, but was recently moved to Terre Haute Federal Institution in Terre Haute, Indiana. Under new regulations, of which Ryan was unaware at the time of his sentencing, Oxford could no longer care for inmates over 70 years of age. Ryan is 74.
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Friday, November 9, 2007

Ex-Gov. Ryan begins prison sentence

Justice is finally served as ex-Gov. George Ryan begins his six and one-half year prison sentence.

As of this writing, Ryan is enroute to Oxford, Wisconsin to begin paying his debt to society. He blatantly violated the public trust and abused Illinois’ highest office, treating it as if it was his own personal fiefdom.

He was accused of steering big government contracts to his friends and family, accepting payoffs, gifts, and lavish vacations.

On his way to the federal prison camp, Ryan was accompanied by another ex governor – Gov. James R. Thompson – whose high profile lawfirm, Winston & Strawn, represented Ryan free of charge.

In recent months, Ryan’s freedom resembled an hourglass. The sand, which was seemingly endless finally ran out Tuesday. It was then that U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens refused to extend Ryan’s bail, ensuring his immediate future. He had already been ordered to report to Oxford before 5 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 7.

Before he left his Kankakee home Wednesday morning, Ryan spoke to reporters. He proclaimed his innocence, vowing to continue to fight to prove it. He said he would report to prison with a “clear conscience.”

But despite his resolve, even appeals court Justice Michael Kanne, who disagreed with the majority judges, favoring a retrial for Ryan and co-defendant Larry Warner, wrote that the evidence against the two was overwhelming.

Experts say there is an off chance that the U.S. Supreme Court justices will agree to hear Ryan’s case. There is also a slim possibility that Thompson can ask to President George W. Bush for a pardon.

It was exactly 13 years ago Thursday that five children belonging to Scott and Janet Willis died in a fiery car crash. A sixth child later died as a result of the crash, which occurred when a chunk fell off a truck driven by a driver who obtained his driver’s license illegally. Thus began an investigation into the workings of the Secretary of State’s office. Not only did the Willis accident happen on Ryan’s watch, while he was Secretary of State, but instead of investigating the accident, Ryan’s pals tried to cover it up.

Ryan never took responsibility, apologized, or offered any explanation to the Willis family.

After Ryan was indicted, Willis called him arrogant. After Ryan was convicted in April 2006, Willis said “he arrogance continued.” Ryan must serve 85 percent of his sentence, even with good behavior.
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