Tag Archives: United States

What Have We Learned from The Nelson Mandela Memorial?

So what have we learned from the memorial service/celebration of the iconic global leader Nelson Mandela? Let’s see now, President Obama shook the hand of Cuban president Raul Castro.

cartoon-handshake-commie

 

For some, this is proof our president is a commie loving Kenyan socialist traitor. Whatever. What’s in a handshake? A change in US policy toward Cuba? He’s already relaxed some strictures from an embargo against the country that’s better than a half century old. There’s no word from the White House that the handshake means he’ll eliminate the embargo.

Oh yeah, and while we’re at it, why don’t we ask ourselves just what it’s accomplished. The end of the Castros? Nope. What people won’t say about Cuba is that they stood with the liberation movements in southern Africa when American lawmakers were calling freedom fighters terrorists.

SAFRICA-MANDELA-MEMORIAL

Style over substance number two is Barack Obama’s selfie with the Prime Ministers of Britain and Denmark. For all the media coverage, you’d never even know David Cameron was in the picture. It was all about the “flirty” Obama and the Danish “tart”. Oh, and I forgot the reaction of the first lady, which journalists across the country, thousands of miles from the scene chose to interpret. While it may not have been the smartest thing in the world for the president to do, it’s nowhere near the sexualized encounter some in the tabloid press here in New York have made it out to be.

Issue number three is the non signing of the sign language interpreter who stood for hours gesticulating without actually translating what was going on at the podium. Thamsanga Jantjie maintains he was suffering from a ” schizophrenic episode, and now fears the his safety, as well as that of his family. Should be a tempest in a teapot, like the rest of this stuff.

interpreter-south-africa

So these three things are the “takeaways” from a memorial service that drew tens of thousands of people to a soccer stadium to pay their respects to a man who transcended hate and oppression to forge a free South Africa?

For shame!

MR.Mandela.hotel2

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Sex with a minor. Should Roman Polanski be Extradited to US?

It’s been 32 years since film director Roman Polanski was tried and convicted of having sex with a 13-year-old girl. In 1977, the case drew worldwide attention, with many commentators at the time using it to show the depravity and excess of Hollywood. Polanski, fearful a judge would back out of a plea agreement and send him to prison, left the country prior to his sentencing to live in France.

roman.polanski.arrest

It must have come as quite a shock when he was arrested in Switzerland this past weekend. He was there, after all, to receive an award at the Zurich Film Festival. He’d traveled there many times before, and even maintains a home in Switzerland. Yet the ghosts of 32 years past won’t go away. It’s possible Roman Polanski will be extradited to the US to face the sentence he ran away from all those years ago.

Ironically, it could also mean freedom. A lot has happened since Polanski was convicted, and his legal team has been fighting his conviction based on allegations of prosecutorial misconduct. Those were chronicled in a documentary, “Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired” released last year. Regardless, Polanski’s arrest has set off not just a legal tussle, but a diplomatic storm involving the Swiss, French, US, and Polish governments.

Polanski has spent the past 32 years as the world’s most celebrated convicted child molester. Despite the time facing him in the US, he’s directed films around the world apparently without fear of getting busted and sent back. He’s now a French citizen, and France has no formal extradition treaty with the US. He even received an Oscar in absentia for the 2002 film “The Pianist”. Despite having to be careful about where he went, Polanski hasn’t exactly lived as a wanted man.

Roman Polanski 2009

Which leads to a few questions. How badly over the past 32 years has the US actually wanted him back here to do his time? There are reports US marshals came close to busting him on several occasions, but for one reason or another, Roman Polanski eluded their grasp. Then there’s the question of whether Polanski’s obvious and extraordinary talent and his tragic past mitigates his original crime.

For those who may have forgotten, the guy was originally charged with drugging a 13 year old girl, then having sex with her. The original charges could have landed him in prison for life, but he plea bargained down to a single count of having sex with a minor.

The victim, Samantha Geimer, publicly identified herself a long time ago, and has forgiven Polanski.

Samantha Geimer
Samantha Geimer

She also sued him, and received an unspecified settlement. So the question remains, what to do about Roman Polanski?

Should he be brought back here to serve the typical 16 months to three years he’s avoided all this time? Should the protests of France and Poland be heeded, and Polanski released from custody in Switzerland? If he does come back here, is there a good chance the original case will be thrown out? What’s best?

Take my poll on the left and post a comment here!

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Hurry Up and Wait on Sotomayor?

There are times when our elected officials act like little more than sullen, spoiled children (witness what’s happening in the New York State Legislature, but that’s another post). Now that Senate Judiciary Chair Patrick Leahy has announced a July 13th start date for Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor’s confirmation hearings, Republicans are crying foul. “Not enough time”, they bleat. Senator Jeff Sessions argues “It’s far more important we do this right then we do it quick”.

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In other words, there isn’t enough time for the GOP to play “Gotcha” with this nominee. They know they don’t  have the votes to stop her confirmation, so now they grasp at straws. When confronted by the fact that Leahy’s timeline is remarkably similar to that of Chief Justice John Roberts when he was confirmed, they counter that she’s ruled on ten times more decisions than he , hence the need for more time.

And of course, the flaw in the Republican argument. If experience on the bench is an important qualifier for the nation’s highest court (and we’ve heard the GOP trot this out many times in the past), Judge Sotomayor would make the grade just by the number of decisions she’s rendered. Still, the Republicans argue that under the July 13th timeline announced by Leahy, they’d have to review 76 cases per day to be prepared for her confirmation hearing.

Well, if Senate familiarity on national security briefings is any indication, Most of them won’t be doing the heavy lifting themselves anyway. That’s why they have paid staffs, and trust me, they don’t skimp on them. No, the GOP wants time because they want to find something, anything that would torpedo Sotomayor’s nomination. To be fair, this isn’t new, nor is it the sole province of Senate Republicans. But they ought to be honest and say that’s what they’re doing.

If they were totally frank, they’d say they need more time not  not to study Sonia Sotomayor’s record but to figure out how to make themselves look good to moderate and independent voters during the televised confirmation hearings. Seen from that vantage point, the political stakes are high, high enough to make a big stink about the timing of the process. Make no mistake. If the Republicans still controlled the Senate, those hearings wouldn’t start until after Labor Day, and no power on earth would make them move faster.

All this attention around Judge Sotomayor’s confirmation is a good thing. Americans ought to have something substantial to focus on besides “Jon and Kate, Plus 8” (lol).

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The Supreme Court  has a tremendous impact on the way we live our lives. The Senate should look at her record. Barring any surprises, it shouldn’t be found wanting.

What do you think. Is July 13th too early for Sonia Sotomayor’s confirmation hearings to begin?

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