Did Michael Vick on 60 Minutes Convince You?

The first word I thought of after watching Michael Vick’s interview on 60 Minutes Sunday night was stoic.

The young man was stoic, unemotional, yet at the same time straight to the point, and quite direct in taking personal responsibility for the actions that led him to a prison cell.

The second thing I thought about was the fact that I didn’t think the conversation with James Brown (CBS Sports) would change many minds, one way or the other.

Michael Vick has his supporters, and for them his was a stellar performance. For his detractors, performance is the operative word. They won’t be convinced by what they saw Sunday that Michael Vick has transformed himself from the guy who oversaw the dogfighting ugliness now so closely associated with his name.

Not knowing Michael Vick personally, I take him at his word that he understands the depravity of dogfighting, and his responsibility to steer young people away from it, as he says the elders in his community didn’t do with him. Yet from the beginning, the most powerful ally Vick has is former NFL coach Tony Dungy. When he speaks of working with young people in prison, his words have a ring of truth no matter what you think of Michael Vick. It’s Tony Dungy, after all, who lost his own son to suicide.

So for Michael Vick, there are second chances. His signing by the Philadelphia Eagles was as much about commerce as altruism , but that’s the nature of professional sports. Animal lovers in Philly may hate what team ownership has done, but if Michael Vick can help his team get to the Super Bowl, it will have been worth the risk.

The risks for Michael Vick, however, are different. Nobody in their right mind thinks he’ll ever get near dogfighting again, but his judgment will be tested in other, more subtle ways. Like when his teammates decide to hang out at that most dangerous place for professional athletes, the strip club. There were reports, since vehemently denied, that he spent his first night out of prison ay a Virginia Beach strip club with NBA star Allen Iverson. Iverson’s agent ┬ásaid he hadn’t seen Vick since his release, but what happens down the road?

Will he take up with the same group of hangers-on he consorted with when he was with the Atlanta Falcons? The Michael Vick on 60 Minutes Sunday seemed smart enough to avoid such pitfalls, but you never know. Plaxico Burress didn’t seem dumb enough to carry a loaded weapon into a Manhattan club and shoot himself with it, either.

What do you think?

Did Michael Vick convince you he’s sincere?

Why Can’t Americans Get Real on Guns?

So now two lives have been claimed by people with hate in their hearts and deadly weapons in their hands. First it was Dr. George Tiller, and now a security guard at Washington’s US Holocaust Memorial Museum.

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The guard’s name was Stephen T. Johns, and he didn’t have to die. America should have been able to keep a rifle out of the hands of a known racist and anti-Semite, James von Brunn. We didn’t, and this is what happened.

Von Brunn was known to law enforcement. Back in 1981, he tried to take board members of the Federal Reserve hostage by actually entering the system’s Washington headquarters. He was armed with a revolver, hunting knife, and sawed off shotgun. He did time for that one, which leads to an interesting question. If 88 year old James von Brunn had a history of drunk driving or driving erratically at his age, there would have been some effort to take his driver’s license away. So how does a man who went to prison on assault and weapons charges manage to procure a rifle, especially if his extremist views were known to authorities?

The answer lies in part in the power of the gun lobby. When they say “If you outlaw guns only outlaws will have guns”, they aren’t talking about James von Brunn. If the media does its job and asks how he got the rifle he used, the lobby will publicly wring its hands and decry the violence. At the same time, they’ll caution against blaming those law abiding citizens who have nothing better to do than blow off the head of a squirrel at 150 yards for “sport”.

Well, it’s time for a paradigm shift in that way of thinking.

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It’s precisely because of those Second Amendment zealots that its easier to buy a gun in some states than it is to get a fishing license. We are reaping what we have sowed when it comes to George Tiller, Stephen Johns, or a young, innocent kid in the Bronx who gets caught in deadly crossfire.

There is no excuse for this. And by the way, don’t bet on the media asking too many questions about von Brunn’s rifle. They didn’t ask about Scott Roeder’s weapon in the Tiller case, so don’t expect anything different now. That’s how we operate here.

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It’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell when it comes to guns. After all, it’s our sacred right to have them, whether we be racist or deranged.

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Never mind the head scratching that goes on in the rest of the world when these events take place.

They’re wondering how America can lecture others about the need for restraint when it comes to weapons procurement when our own citizens are buying guns at a record clip.

I can’t figure it out. Can you?

Did Democrats Punk on GITMO?

The short answer to the above question? Yes, they did.

Yes, the people locked up at Guantanamo Bay may well be guilty of crimes against this country and its citizens. How guilty we don’t know in many cases. Some people have been locked up there for years without trial. Yet pandering members of Congress, Democrat and Republican, act like to bring them to justice on US soil is somehow a clear and present danger to the public.

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The Democrats involved in the shameful Senate decision to withhold funding for GITMO’s closure got punked by Republicans, pure and simple. How else to explain the lopsided 90-6 vote? How else to explain Harry Reid’s bizarre statement about the detainees, “We don’t want them around”? So what do you suggest, Senator? Shoot them all? Keep ’em locked up forever without giving many the benefit of a trial?

FBI boss Robert Mueller fed more red meat to opponents of closing GITMO by asserting detainees held or released in the US could pose a threat.

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A cursory reading of history would tell us the following: Several German saboteurs landed in the US, were captured, tried by military tribunal, and executed back in 1942. None were detained for a minute outside the US.

Also, in case people forgot, tens of thousands of Japanese Americans were interred during the same wartime period, again inside the US. If Nazis and Japanese can be securely held inside this country, what in the world is Congress thinking by scaring the American people about GITMO detainees?

President Obama will address the nation on this issue by the time many of you read this. It really doesn’t matter what he says, given that he’s been sold out by his own party on this issue. Americans’ concerns about national security are legitimate ones. However, the idea that suspected terrorists can help fund terror operations from behind bars in ludicrous. That’s what Super Max prisons were made for.

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And the fears about what happens if they’re released? Gee, it seems like the only way that would happen is if they’re found innocent. So is Congress trying to say that America’s courts would be suspect if one or two of these detainees are found not to have done what the government says they’ve done? They’ve already impugned the competence of virtually every corrections officer currently working in the US.

Instead of fighting the Republicans on this issue, the Democrats folded like a gambler with a bad hand at one of Harry Reid’s Vegas casinos. Not to mention they’ve spoon fed the GOP an issue that they’ll certainly use going forward in their war of “no” with the president.

And what’s their end game? Keeping GITMO, an international scar of shame, open and nothing less.

Is this really what the American people want? How about you? Do you want to keep Guantanamo Bay open?