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January 30, 2009, 11:15 A.M.

Not surprisingly, Rod Blagojevich has been removed from office by the Illinois State Senate. Although the removal was to be expected, I have to say that I was a little surprised that Blago didnít have enough on at least one Senator to avoid a unanimous vote. In the end, he was removed from office without a single dissenting voice. 59-0.

This weekís media blitz certainly could not have helped. If Blago expected that his direct (via mass media) appeal was going to sway the Senate, he is seriously delusional, and his time would have been much better spent arguing his case on the Senate floor than in a series of Manhattan studios.

But, seriously, he could not have expected (and I donít think he did) that the media blitz would help him save his job. This is especially evident in his oft repeated ďthe fix is inĒ mantra. The only explanation, then, for his media performance this week, yesterday in front of the Illinois Senate, and in his past removal remarks, is to win popular support and perhaps win the hearts of potential jurors.

Blago bears the dubious honor of being only the eighth governor in US history to be impeached and removed from office. Now he faces almost certain criminal prosecution. His populist message can only be aimed at swaying the jury.

Where I once thought Blago had some good defenses, I think his recent interviews have helped rather than hurt he prosecution. With the evidence mounting, the possible testimony of co-conspirators being called right now and the record of Blagoís own statements makes it look pretty bad.

I will be interested to see what the indictment looks like, and what additional evidence comes out before the trial starts. The Blago story continues. Stay tuned.

January 30, 2009, 10:20 A.M.

During this week Graham and his shipmates on the TS Kennedy sailed along the southern coast of Cuba. During the same week, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton left open the possibility for new and more progressive policies towards our souther neighbor. That is an exciting proposition.

The fifty years of isolation and animosity between our respective countries has really accomplished little. The Castro government is still in power, and only the people of Cuba have suffered from this isolation. There is no weakness in now moving beyond old cold war notions of punishment and sanctions, and toward a more enlightened and progressive approach to Cuban/American relations. What else can we possibly have to gain, and what purpose will continued obstinance possibly serve?

I would love to visit Cuba some day. I would also like to see the day when Cubans can visit the US and can buy those few products that we still make in their local shops. Time has not eroded the strength of the Cuban government, and isolation deprives us of the opportunity to sin over the Cuban people to our point of view because they canít see, hear or experience the difference.

At one time it would be argued that human rights abuses and political oppression served as a justification for continued refusal to relate culturally, economically, politically or diplomatically with Cuba. That moral high ground was lost, ironically, in our actions on the island of Cuba. Our own abuse and illegal detention of our purported enemies undercuts any such position. There is simply no remaining justification for continuing our current policies and they should end. I want to smoke a cigar in Old Habana, and swim on a sunny Cuban beach, and Iím not getting any younger.

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Copyright 2008 Edward Philpot

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