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By Jeremy Schiffres, Daily and Sunday Freeman, Kingston, N.Y.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Random thoughts

Been absent from blogging for a couple of weeks, so allow me to clear my head of some thoughts that have been cluttering it up lately

* People who comment on the Freeman's online stories went predictably bonkers last week when we ran a piece about Ulster County Democratic lawmakers calling for healthy snacks to be among the offerings in county-owned vending machines. Virtually everyone who posted a comment accused the Democrats of a "nanny state" mentality and said our government has more important things to do than worry about the contents of vending machines. Strange, then, that a solid majority of our online poll respondents answered "yes" when we asked, on the same day, "Should at least some healthy snacks be mandatory in vending machines in county-owned buildings?" Hmmm.

* Too bad for the Republicans that Mike Huckabee has decided not to run for president. I don't care for his politics, but he would have made a good candidate and a formidable opponent to President Obama. Unlike most high-profile Republicans, Huckabee doesn't come across as mean, angry and arrogant. He simply calls 'em as he sees 'em, and he does so in a pleasant and congenial way. He might have had a shot at beating Obama. The other GOP contenders right now? Probably not.

* Osama bin Laden's son Omar said the United States violated international military law by carrying out the raid in Pakistan in which his father was killed. He noted, in particular, that his father was unarmed when shot in the head by a U.S. Navy SEAL. The al-Qaida leader was "summarily executed," Omar said. Yeah, well so were the 3,000 unarmed people who Daddy slaughtered on 9/11 — in a series of barbaric attacks that most certainly "violated international military law." Put simply, Omar, your old man got what was coming to him. I'm only sorry I couldn't have been there to fire the fatal shot.

* Speaking of bin Laden being killed, I can't help but notice that the only major polling group and/or news outlet that hasn't conducted a poll on President Obama's job approval since the raid in Abbottabad is Fox News. I guess they can't bring themselves to release a number that shows how popular Obama has become since the al-Qaida boss was eliminated. (Worth noting, too, is that Fox was the only major national news outlet that didn't report on last week's scathing report by the Senate Ethics Committee that accused former Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., of breaking federal law, making false statements to federal elections commissioners and obstructing the Ethics Committee's investigation into his conduct. The committee also referred the matter to the Justice Department for possible prosecution. But to watch Fox, or read its website, you'd think it never happened. Can you image how Fox would have covered such a story if the target was, say, Democratic Rep. Charles Rangel? Oh, yeah. That happened. And Fox played it up like a scandal of Watergate proportion. Fox News — unfair and imbalanced to the end.)

* Also regarding the bin Laden killing, will the righties ever stop nitpicking every point of the raid that finally got him?
"Release the death photos." "Stop altering the accounts of what happened inside the compound." "Perhaps the killing wasn't legal." "Did we give away military secrets by not completely destroying the helicopter that landed hard outside bin Laden's house?" "Obama said 'I' too many times during the speech in which he announced the killing." "Why didn't the SEALs take bin Laden's wives into custody?" "Why is the White House revealing intelligence that was seized during the raid?" "Obama's trip to Ground Zero was a 'victory lap.'"
If bin Laden had been killed when George W. Bush was president, Fox and right-wing radio hosts would have spent days, perhaps weeks, doing nothing but gushing about what a great leader he was and about how he made the world safer by overseeing the raid that put a bullet in the scumbag's head. And they would have used the word "unpatriotic" to describe anyone who dared question the methods used by Bush. But they refuse give Obama credit, no matter what. It's what I call HOATO — a "hatred of all things Obama" — and the righties have a BAD case of it.

And, on lighter notes...

* Ashton Kutcher is a funny enough guy, but he can't hold a candle to Charlie Sheen as a sitcom actor. I predict "Two-and-a-Half Men" will be canceled during or at the end of the 2011-12 season.

* I've yet to see this weekend's box office numbers, so I may wind up eating the words I'm about to type, but what's the point of releasing a movie like "Bridesmaids"? The title alone turns off half the movie-going population. And of the rest, a good number are likely to conclude what's obvious from the trailers: It's not that funny. But knowing that people will shell out hard-earned money for two hours of even the most inane material, this thing probably will be a smash hit. I hope I'm wrong.



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