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Back in 2009, I interviewed Republican Senator John Ensign.  The stars were aligning for the brash, handsome Republican superstar from Nevada. All except for one.

Ensign had slept with his best friend’s wife, and I had information that he may have helped his best friend get a lobbying gig to shut him up.

It took nearly two years later for Ensign to finally resign.  Read my thoughts on the story and check out the video from my CNN interview: RickSanchezTV.com

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Visit my official site:  RickSanchezTV.com
Follow me on Twitter: http://twitter.com/RickSanchezTV

 

According to The Forward, a pornographer named Ben Suky has made several contributions to prominent Republicans and Democrats.

Everyone has a right to take part in the political process, even pornographers.

But should we expect our politicians to vet contributions? Are there any campaign contributors we, as the public, should have a problem with?

Read the piece at: http://ricksancheztv.com/

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Visit my official site:  Rick Sanchez
Follow me on Twitter: http://twitter.com/RickSanchezTV

Yesterday afternoon, as I played basketball in the driveway with my son and daughter, an argument arose over who hit the ball out of bounds. My feisty 10-year-old daughter tried to settle the argument by launching the ball at the back of her 12-year-old brother’s head. That made him so angry, he took the ball and kicked it into the woods. Game over.

Children have to be taught to settle disputes and express their opinions respectfully. Unfortunately, it’s a lesson some adults never seem to have learned.

Take, for example, Terry Jones, the pistol-packing Florida pastor who threatened to burn a Quran on 9/11 last year. Well, a little over a week ago, he… you guessed it. He burned a Quran.

If you recall, Jones didn’t go through with it last year because there was such an outcry from nearly everyone — President Obama, Secretary of Defense Gates, politicians from both sides of the aisle, celebrities, religious leaders, regular folk and pretty much anyone with a lick of common sense — that burning a Quran, and offending one and a half billion people, wasn’t a good or sane idea.

But it may have been General David Petraeus whose argument was the most convincing — at least for me. When I spoke with him last year, he boiled it down to a simple matter of life and death. General Petraeus said that there was nothing brave about burning the Quran over here while our soldiers pay the consequences over there — in Afghanistan, Iraq and now, Libya.

When I interviewed Jones last year, I did my level best to hear him out. But all I could think of was how I would feel, as a Christian, if somebody desecrated my most sacred book, the Bible. His only defense was to say that the Quran wasn’t sacred to him.

The leader of the Dove World Outreach Center — the irony in the name shouldn’t be lost on anyone — began this year’s campaign of hate with a new angle. Instead of a simple book burning, Jones decided to first put the holy book of Islam on “trial.” He dubbed it, “International Judge the Quran Day.” The thinking must have been that if the book were “guilty,” then it deserved to get burned.

About 30 people attended, 12 of whom formed the “jury.” For good measure, the mock trial featured a prosecuting attorney and defense lawyer. However, in case you have any doubts, it was Jones who was not only the “judge” in this kangaroo court but also the jury and executioner. I think you can guess the verdict. With the outcome certain, it’s a wonder Jones had it go on for more than six hours. After soaking a Quran in kerosene for an hour, Jones oversaw the torching of the book.

Fresh off last year’s circus as well as last week’s circus trial, Jones wants another 15 minutes of fame. So he’s now decided to fly to Dearborn, Michigan, on April 22 where he’ll protest outside the Islamic Center of America, the country’s largest mosque. Jones says he’s not protesting against Muslims, but that he’s protesting against Islamic law. He says he wants Muslims to “honor, obey and submit to the Constitution of the United States.”

Last I checked, I haven’t seen any lobbying efforts by Muslim Americans to have the U.S. Constitution overturned.

Ignoring Jones and hoping he disappears into obscurity doesn’t seem to work. If anything, he seems to have the survivability of a cockroach. Jones has to be confronted head-on, and that is exactly what an interfaith group of 35 pastors and imams from the Detroit-metro area is doing.

On Monday, the group spoke out against Jones’ visit and announced they were planning a prayer vigil in response. Reverend Charles Williams II of the King Solomon Baptist Church said, “As a Christian minister, silence for me would be consent.”

As much as I dislike giving Jones any more attention and a 16th minute of fame, silence and inaction in the face of bigotry don’t work. Worse, they can unfortunately — and incorrectly — signal approval or at the very least acceptance. Jones needs to realize that his words and actions make him the very thing he despises: He is no better than the fringe of Muslims who hate.

Hate masquerading as political protest is still hate, which is why Jones must be repudiated so he realizes that his actions are not only offensive, but also dangerous — especially to our troops.

We teach our children that they can disagree without being disagreeable. That lesson evolves as we grow older. As adults, we learn that we can protest peacefully and that we can oppose something without being offensive.

Like Terry Jones, my daughter tried to explain to me why she was right to throw the ball at her brother. I explained to her why she was wrong and sent her to her room, much to my son’s delight. But that was short-lived because he too was sent packing to his room with what we in the South call a “talking to.”

Terry Jones needs to be taught the same lesson, but his is not a game. His actions can have dire consequences for all of us. The lesson he needs to learn is that he has every right to express his opinion about Islam or to disagree with Muslims, but he doesn’t have to spit in their faces to do it. He didn’t need to desecrate a book that one and a half billion people hold sacred in order to make a point. He shouldn’t needlessly put the lives of our armed forces at greater risk.

Terry Jones lives in the South, so he’ll understand this idiom as well as anybody: Terry Jones needs a “talking to.” Here’s how you can talk to Jones.

This piece was originally published in The Huffington Post

Rick Sanchez’s Official Website: http://RickSanchezTV.com
Follow me on Twitter: http://twitter.com/RickSanchezTV

We tend to think that the three major cable news networks just compete against each other. They do, but they also compete for our attention against the entire universe of cable networks. Whether it’s E!, Bravo or ESPN, they all want us to watch. It’s a war — a cable TV ratings war — to get and keep our attention.

The daily rundowns of any cable news network can be unexciting. There’s a limit to the number of medical breakthroughs we have each day. There aren’t all that many dogs that save their owners by dialing 911. And when the news itself is boring, it’s hard to keep people watching. That’s only attained with big stories. Gone are the days when news divisions were “loss leaders” for a network or a company.

So what happens? News networks naturally become desperate for the big stories, the ones that allow them to roll out emblazoned graphics that say “BREAKING NEWS” along with dramatic music and sound effects to remind us that this news, unlike yesterday’s, really is breaking.

News networks get so jacked up about big stories, they literally throw all their resources at them — even to the exclusion of the rest of the news.

It’s as though networks can’t hold two competing thoughts in their heads at the same time. It’s Egypt or Wisconsin, Japan or Libya, Libya or domestic politics, one or the other. Sometimes it’s a matter of resources, but mostly it’s a matter of ratings.

In the case of our politics, the need for the “big story” may be one of the reasons our discourse has degraded, why there’s so much anger and vitriol. Each side yells louder, and says more extreme things, in order to get heard and get covered most. And if our politicians aren’t being extreme, pundits and opinion shows will do it for them.

Bipartisanship, cooperation and civility just aren’t “entertaining.” They don’t pay the bills. The guy who’s willing to say each side has good ideas and tries to find practical, workable solutions is boring. If he weren’t, he’d get a lot more coverage and we might get a lot more done as a country.

The same holds true when it comes to international events. The “big story” gets more coverage, because it feeds the ratings monster. And with more coverage, it seems even bigger, more serious and important than it often really is. In the case of war, that attention — taken to the extreme — may even make it seem like something needs to be done by us. Coverage can drive a short-sighted outcry for intervention.

My point is not to take away from the seriousness of wars or debates on important domestic issues and government policies, or to question the coverage of these issues or our involvement as a country. My point is to question the relative amount of coverage a story gets and why it gets that coverage.

In other words, do ratings wars drive us toward actual wars?

If Libya weren’t good for ratings, would we have seen the pictures of death, destruction and brutality for the past month to the extent we have? Would we have seen the constant stream of reports showing how events in Libya affect not just Libyan men, women and children — or even the region — but us? How often has someone reported on whether we will “pay more at the pump?”

And if we hadn’t seen those stories, would we be enforcing a no-fly zone right now? If we had seen that same level of reporting on Rwanda, all day long, night after night, with the story leading most if not all newscasts as “breaking,” would we have done something to stop that genocide?

What drives the difference in coverage between the two stories? What drives the difference in determining US intervention? That Libya is part of a revolution — and potentially democracy — sweeping the Arab world? That Gaddafi is crazy? That Libya is an OPEC country with the ninth-largest oil reserves in the world? That Rwanda has virtually no natural resources, its economy is centered on subsistence agriculture and that it’s ranked as one of the world’s poorest countries? All of the above?

Some may believe that this is a chicken-and-egg situation: it’s impossible to know whether the coverage is driving the story or if the story is driving the coverage. They also believe that our national interest, not the degree of coverage, ultimately drives our response as a country.

National interest undoubtedly is the motivation. But I believe it’s also the case that cable news fuels the fire and “sells” us on a course of action. Too much coverage carries with it the risk of creating a false sense of importance or urgency. Example: we’re now knee-deep in a military intervention in Libya, and we still don’t really know who these Libyan rebels are. We’re supporting a group that no one — at least in the media — has really bothered to take a closer look at.

There’s no easy solution to controlling extreme coverage and overexposure other than restraint, a sense of fair play and what my University of Minnesota writing professor called the most important tool of our craft: good judgment.

The solution is recognizing the difference between reporting and over-reporting, between informing and inundating, between highlighting and hyping. The solution is to have good individual judgment — by reporters, producers, network news heads — prevail over the need for ratings and profits by their owners, the large media conglomerates. It’s a tall order, but there’s no other choice. Otherwise, we run the risk of having what’s good for cable news becoming what’s good for our country. That’s not something we need to just be aware of, but also wary of.

This was originally published in The Huffington Post

Please visit Rick Sanchez’s official website: http://RickSanchezTV.com
Follow me on Twitter: http://twitter.com/RickSanchezTV

You know how things sometimes just don’t add up, signaling to us right away that something’s just not right? Or that someone is not exactly telling the truth? You don’t need to be trained as a journalist to figure it out when it happens. All you need is common sense.

When it comes to detecting B.S., almost everything I know comes from parenting: my wife and I have four kids, with ages ranging from elementary school all the way to college. They keep us on our toes and keep our B.S. detectors quite keen. B.S. detectors usually come with adulthood.

But there are two adults in the great state of Arizona — public officials no less — who either don’t have B.S. detectors or simply decided not to use them one day last week.

What they did in their official capacity boggles the mind. Theirs is not an errant off the cuff comment, or the trap of a “gotcha” interview, which I’ve fallen prey to myself. No, what they did cannot be explained away that easily. These two public servants, representatives of the people of Arizona, apparently read, studied and then proceeded to disseminate hate-filled B.S. right into the official record of the Arizona State Senate.

Senate President Russell Pearce and Senator Lori Klein claim they got a letter from a constituent named Tony Hill, a substitute teacher in Glendale, Arizona. Klein read Hill’s letter into the Senate record. The letter is plainly dubious, filled with accusations all too familiar to those of us who are used to hearing attacks against Latinos veiled in disguise as part of a legitimate “debate” about our nation’s broken immigration system.

Those attacks usually go something like this: “Hispanics are lazy and dumb. They’re a lower species that want to take over America and destroy our way of life.” When taken to the extreme, those attacks can get barbaric and ugly; just over two weeks ago, another fine public servant — Kansas State Representative Virgil Peck — “joked” about shooting illegal aliens “like hogs.”

Most of us know from even a cursory review of our nation’s history that these same types of attacks were leveled against Germans, the Irish, Jews, the Chinese, Italians and just about every other immigrant group that has come to America.

But back to Pearce and Klein. Maybe they haven’t read that part of our history because when they got a letter from a substitute teacher saying those types of things, they bought it hook, line and sinker. And then they disseminated it, read it on the floor of the Senate and into the official record, as though it were fact.

Here is what substitute teacher Hill wrote about his experience teaching history to Glendale 8th graders: he said his students refused to recite the Pledge of Allegiance and claimed those students said, “We are Mexicans and Americans stole our land.” Hill goes on and says that when he asked the students to stop speaking Spanish in class, they told him, “Americans better learn Spanish and their customs because they are taking the land back…”

Hill seemed bent on describing his Latino students as untamed and out of control. He says they refused to open their textbook, tore out pages, and threw them at each other. And then he added, “most of the Hispanic students do not want to be educated, but rather be gang members and gangsters.”

Sound familiar? It’s a perfect match to the Hispanic stereotype, the caricature, which is pushed all too often. There’s only one problem: the children and the school claim none of it is true. According to District spokesman Jim Cummings, “Based on our conversations with students, based on our conversation with the teacher involved, we simply believe what he said is extremely exaggerated and not reflective of what our school is all about.”

So where did Tony Hill get this story? The teacher, who hopes to get a job at a community college and now regrets sending the letter, told the Arizona Republic, “It just upset me that this was what’s occurring… to see this disregard for America and their hatred towards it and their entitlement.”

Tony Hill no doubt has some legitimate complaints about the problems caused by our inoperative immigration system, especially as a resident of a border state. But his diatribe laced with accusations against 8th grade children is shameful. Sadly, comments like Hill’s have been and probably always will be a part of our collective struggle to grow and get along as a nation of immigrants.

The real danger isn’t what Hill wrote, or even what he believes. No, the danger is how it went unchecked and was then read into the official record by two state senators who should, one would hope, know better.

In a TV interview, Senator Klein decided to double down. She stood by her actions and then went after the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States. “We have an organization here called La Raza, which is a far-leftist racist organization that is inciting young Hispanics to act out, not say the Pledge, spit on America, and say it’s our right to take America back, and this is really creating a problem here,” Klein said. She said that, “this kind of behavior… [is] not acceptable from any race” and that she’s received, “countless emails from other educators, saying that they’ve also had this experience.”

“I’ve seen a lot of things like this, it’s not that out of the ordinary,” Anti-Defamation League regional director Bill Straus told the Phoenix ABC affiliate KNXV. “What is out of the ordinary is that it gets the credibility of a state senator reading it word-for-word on the floor of the Senate. It’s a disgrace.” It certainly is.

The school district has now launched an inquiry into Hill. I can only hope that the inquiry also extends to examining the broken B.S. detectors and the judgment of Senators Pearce and Klein.

This piece originally appeared in The Huffington Post

Rick’s Official Website: http://RickSanchezTV.com
Follow me on Twitter: http://twitter.com/RickSanchezTV

President Obama’s critics on the right and supporters on the left are both wrong for criticizing his trip to Latin America.

Here’s why:  http://ricksancheztv.com/2011/03/21/news/why-south-of-the-border-matters-north-of-the-border/

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This piece was originally published in The Huffington Post

Official website of Rick Sanchez: http:RickSanchezTV.com
Follow Rick Sanchez on Twitter: http://twitter.com/RickSanchezTV

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