Misunderstood Blagojevich

Isn't it possible, that Illinois Governor, Rod Blagojevich, is just misunderstood? I'm not a lawyer, but I've seen lawyers played on TV. And I've been thinking about Blagojevich ever since the FBI arrested him. Like many of you, I've been wondering what his defense can possibly be since the Feds taped so many damaging words of his. By the time you read this, he may have resigned or have been impeached. However, as of this writing, he has not been found guilty of anything. So, isn't it just possible that the man is completely innocent? Okay, I know that's a stretch. Regardless, I decided to put myself in the wing-tipped shoes of a criminal lawyer making hundreds of dollars an hour to try to get this man off the hook. If I were his lawyer, this is probably the kind of thing I'd say:

Citizens of Illinois, ladies and gentlemen of the press (or of the jury, depending), I represent Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich. I maintain that not only is his name often mispronounced, but it has also been cruelly sullied. Rod Blagojevich is not the money-hungry, vulgar, crooked, arrogant, stupid man that you may think he is. Wait, I left out "disgraceful." Anyway, this is a man who has suffered his whole life. As a child, other kids made fun of his name. As an adult, people have made fun of his hair. And yet, he was able to rise to one of the highest offices in this land that he loves so much. That's got to be worth something, doesn't it? Uh, you know what I mean.

Let's talk about the charge that people find the most shocking: the alleged attempt to sell the Senate seat formerly belonging to President-elect Barack Obama. This is perhaps the biggest example of there being a misunderstanding. When Rod Blagojevich said that he was interested in "selling Obama's Senate seat," he literally meant "Obama's Senate seat" -- the chair that Obama sat in while in the Senate. He did not mean that he was selling someone the lofty position of Senator; he was talking about furniture.

Now, this was probably a mistake, a mistake that he is quite sorry for. He shouldn't have been trying to sell a Senator's chair anymore than I should've tried to sell that Supreme Court Justice's couch a few years ago. I wasn't thinking straight then, and neither was Rod.

Mr. Blagojevich has done his best to be a proper Governor for the people of Illinois. He is an old-fashioned guy who believes in tradition, and he was trying to follow that tradition. If he is guilty of anything, it is of trying too hard. Historically, four of the last eight elected Governors of Illinois have been charged with a crime. Since 1971, approximately 1000 Illinois public servants have been convicted of corruption, and in Chicago 30 Aldermen have gone to jail. Should he be demonized for just trying to follow in the footsteps of the public servants who came before him?

The "Corporate Crime Reporter" recently crunched some Department of Justice statistics to see which state was the most corrupt in the nation. Louisiana was Number One, followed by Mississippi, Kentucky, Alabama, Ohio, and finally Illinois. That's right. Illinois was only sixth. To someone who always wanted Illinois to be Number One in everything, can you imagine how the Governor felt when he read these statistics?

He decided he'd do his best to bring Illinois up to being at least in the top three. Who knows? Because of Rod Blagojevich, he may have pushed Illinois past Louisiana!

You decide. Should someone be severely punished for trying to sell an old chair while he was attempting to make Abraham Lincoln's state Number One?

I don't think so. I rest my case."

That's what I would say if I were his lawyer. And who knows? Maybe that's the kind of thing that'll get him off. Crazier things have happened in court.

Smokey The Bear Accidentally Shot

That headline about Smokey could appear in newspapers across the country soon. For the first time in 25 years, a new Bush Administration rule will allow people to carry loaded, concealed weapons in national parks and wildlife refuges. Will the majority of people who visit these parks feel safer because of this new ruling? What do you think?

Which do you think is going to happen first, or more often: A law-abiding citizen with a permit to carry a concealed weapon will use his gun to protect himself or his property? Or, there will be a tragic accident involving a drunk and a gun, an animal and a gun, or a little kid and a gun?

Why do gun owners think it's so important to have a gun with them in a national park? Is this part of their "slippery slope" theory. You know, that if guns are prohibited in the parks, next they'll be saying you can't have a bazooka in your garage.

Here's the ruling: beginning in January, people who are licensed to carry concealed weapons will be allowed to carry those weapons in national parks So, people will be allowed to carry firearms, concealed and loaded, in 388 out of the 391 national parks. Wisconsin and Illinois don't issue concealed carry permits, so the parks in those states are exempt. But I'm sure the National Rifle Association is taking aim at those three parks, too.

You're probably wondering what liberal, left-wing, Constitution-hating regime banned these weapons from parks 25 years ago. Well, the bill that did so was signed by Ronald Reagan. It required firearms to be unloaded and placed somewhere that wasn't too accessible, such as a car trunk, while people visited federal parks. I guess the NRA feels that the Founding Fathers were against keeping things in locked trunks.

This paragraph is specifically for members of the NRA and other gun owners. I'm not saying that you don't have the legal right to carry a gun into a national park. So you don't have to send me that nasty email. (But you can if you want to). I'm just appealing to common sense when I ask the question, "Why do you feel a need to bring a gun into a national park?"

The way the NRA explains it, "We are pleased that the Interior Department recognizes the right of law-abiding citizens to protect themselves and their families while enjoying America's National Parks and wildlife refuges."

But what is it that they feel a need to protect themselves from? Until now, people weren't walking around with guns, so it can't be other campers. Shooting those bears who are sniffing around your garbage isn't allowed. Those Boy Scouts who might be singing too loudly aren't really a threat. So what are you so afraid of that you feel the need to have your gun with you?

Part of the above NRA quote refers to "enjoying" the parks. You mean, until now, there were people who visited the parks, and then afterwards said to their friends or spouses, "I loved the hiking, and the beauty of the park was breathtaking. But I really would have enjoyed the experience more if I had had my concealed weapon with me?"

I believe the NRA folks when they say they will feel safer because of this ruling. But what about the rest of us? Are you going to feel safer, knowing that those guys in the next tent who just drank a case of beer might be carrying concealed weapons? Are you going to be afraid to ask the woman by the campfire who's playing her radio too loud to turn it down now that you know that the thing in her pocket might not be a flashlight? And will that nervous guy with a gun who sees something moving in the middle of the night shoot it before realizing it's you running to the bathroom?

Gun guys, take a break. We all know the law says you can have your gun with you, but it doesn't say you must have it with you. Can't you leave it at home for one little weekend? Just have fun at the park, and if you think you're going to miss your gun too much, you can always bring a picture of it. Just don't reach for that picture too quickly. One of your buddies might think your reaching for something else.