It’s often said there’s an Eleventh Commandment in conservative politics: “Thou shalt not speak ill of any Republican.” This edict is usually attributed to Ronald Reagan, though it was actually coined by then-California Republican Party chairman Gaylord B. Parkinson in 1965. Since then many conservatives have treated it as constitutional law, deriving from it interpretive statutes about how the right should behave.
Well, Washington, D.C. is Oz of course, everybody knows that, yet the debate rages on whether it is the book version or the movie version. In the book Oz is a real place, but in the movie it is just a dream. Is Washington, D.C. as destination for people looking to accomplish things a realistic vision or a quixotic fantasy?
Indeed old Washington hands, particularly manicured ones, understand perfectly the controversial lyric by America:
Oz never did give nothin’ to the Tin Man
That he didn’t, didn’t already have
And cause never was the reason for the evening
Or the tropic of Sir Galahad.
Just last month, Apple chief executive Tim Cook made headlines when he wrote a piece in the Washington Post, panning Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act as “very dangerous.” Apple, Cook wrote, does not believe in discrimination and strives to “do business in a way that is just and fair.” This month, the San Francisco Chronicle’s Wendy Lee reported, Apple fired some construction workers at Apple Campus 2 in January because they had been convicted of felonies or face felony charges. Just and fair? Hardly.
Apple would not respond on the record, but someone familiar with the matter said the Apple policy affects only ex-offenders convicted of felonies in the past seven years. The person said that the corporation reviews pending charges and does not automatically discharge those facing prosecution and that the policy exists to promote quality and safety.
Our country’s current patent system rewards confusion, rather than transparency. It is riddled with bad record keeping, and plagued by shady businesses practices that transfer patent ownership to shell companies that launch baseless lawsuits and kill innovation. So why is one-time presidential candidate Rick Santorum backing patent trolls under the cover of the U.S. Constitution?
In a recent editorial Santorum, former Republican senator from Pennsylvania, argued against the patent reform legislation now pending in Congress. “Our Founding Fathers recognized the importance of intellectual-property protection in a thriving, free economy,” Mr. Santorum, now chairman of Patriot Voices, wrote, “which is why they enshrined these rights into the Constitution.”
March 7 marked 50 years since 1965’s “Bloody Sunday,” when millions watched on television as state and local police fired tear gas at the crowd and attacked marchers in Selma, Alabama. The national outrage that followed led to a speech by President Lyndon Johnson to a joint meeting of Congress — appealing for Voting Rights legislation. On March 17, Democrat Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield and Republican Minority Leader Everett Dirksen introduced the bill.
Although the Democrats held two-thirds of the seats in both houses, these events gave it the momentum to pass, for Republican votes would counterbalance the worry that segregationist Southern Democrats would vote against it.
The bill passed and was signed into law on August 6 by President Johnson.
Forgotten by many, this followed in the tradition of Republicans pushing through the passage of the constitutional amendments —the 13th, 14th, and 15th — between 1865 and 1870 that outlawed slavery, clarified and protected citizenship rights, and prohibited denial of voting “on the basis of race, or previous condition of servitude.”
You have most probably heard the haunting “Coventry Carol” sung principally during the Christmas season. It recounts King Herod the Great’s massacre of all males under the age of two in Bethlehem described in the Gospel of Matthew 2:1-18. Herod had been outwitted by the three Magi who had not returned to Jerusalem, as he had requested, to inform him of the location of the child-king they had been seeking. Herod had told the Magi he wanted to worship the child. In fact, he wanted to kill any pretender to the throne Herod occupied. Human history has been filled with Herods.
The United States and Iran have plunged back into negotiations, hoping to end once and for all a decades-long standoff that has raised the specter of an Iranian nuclear arsenal, a new atomic arms race in the Middle East and even a U.S. or Israeli military intervention.
With the clock ticking down to the deadline for a framework accord, some officials say the daunting diplomatic task means negotiators will likely settle for an announcement that they’ve made enough progress to justify further talks.
News reports about the progress of the negotiations have been sketchy. But fortunately, reliable, confidential sources have given us a comprehensive report on what has really been going on behind closed doors in that five-star luxury resort hotel in Lausanne, Switzerland.
The new king of Saudi Arabia has been bestowing gifts — lots of gifts. King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud has given an estimated $32 billion to students, government workers, soldiers, and retirees.
Those not directly receiving cash payouts are still expected to reap profit. Shop owners reportedly filled their shelves with luxury items as eager beneficiaries of the King’s largesse sought to spend their “bonuses” on the latest gadgets, fashions, and luxuries. Others, seeking the Saudi version of the “gift that keeps on giving,” have set aside their money for a second or third wife.
Out of the five million people in the Saudi workforce, three million are expected to directly benefit from these cash outlays. And those not lucky enough to be direct beneficiaries may still get a “bonus” if the company they work for is among the many in Saudi Arabia taking its cue from their King and honoring his reign with gifts of their own.
So what is the purpose of a congressional hearing? To increase understanding or buttress a political case the majority always intended to make?
As always, it depends on who is paying. In the case of a hearing now tentatively set for March 25 before the House Crime Subcommittee on Judiciary, Sheldon Adelson is the payer, and the witness list — for now — has been constructed to elucidate Adelson’s views to the exclusion of all others.
Adelson is a Las Vegas casino magnate and the world’s eighth-richest man. He used to be a Democrat until the Democratic Party “left me.” Now, he is one of the largest funders of Republican candidates.
He doesn’t agree with Republicans on everything — he says he is “liberal on several social issues” — but he says he is with them on the big stuff.
But the truth is, when it threatens his business interests, he remains with the Democrats on some of the big stuff and with conservatives on some of the social issues.
Back when political polls were reporting that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was likely to lose power in Tuesday’s election, I figured that Bibi must have overplayed his hand when he spoke before Congress at the invitation of House Speaker John Boehner and against the wishes of President Obama. I assumed he had miscalculated, and that the gambit would backfire with Israeli voters.
As it turns out, the polls were wrong. (What are the chances of that?) The conservative Likud Party won at least 29 seats, a healthy boost over the center-left Zionist Union’s 24.
The big loser then is not the blustery PM but our pouty president. Before the March 3 speech, the White House had every right to telegraph its displeasure at Netanyahu’s address — which the White House did not approve because it was too close to Israel’s March 17 election. Obamaland could have dismissed the speech as a stunt, a pesky molehill. Instead, it turned it into a mountain of controversy.