Another Perspective

Another Perspective

Sen. Menendez’s Indictment Insurance Policy — Why Is It Legal?

By 4.16.15

When news broke last month on the Department of Justice’s plans to indict Sen. Robert Menendez on criminal corruption charges, the New Jersey Democrat signaled he would fight.

“I’m not going anywhere,” he said. 

Easy for him to say. He has the deep pockets necessary to hire the best criminal defense team in the business. Or, I should say, his campaign war chest has the resources to pay those high priced attorneys. Over the course of his extended political career, he has raised over $39 million in campaign contributions, so he is sure to have the funds necessary to pay his team of lawyers.

The test of Menendez’s will really begins now, as a federal indictment charges the senator with 14 counts, including bribery, conspiracy, and wire fraud.

It’s certain to add considerably to the massive legal bills Menendez has already racked up — and that his political supporters are helping pay off. From early 2013 through the end of 2014, Menendez reported spending more than $1.2 million on legal fees, using a combination of cash from his campaign committee and a political action committee, according to a Center for Public Integrity analysis of federal documents.

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Not a Perfect Ending But a Better Ending

By 4.15.15

My friend Julia died as we knew she would. Cancer had ravaged her body for a decade. She no longer could breathe. She was at home, under hospice care, when she asked for a dose of morphine that she knew would kill her but also keep her final moments free of pain.

I mention Julia’s death because a blogger named Jazz Shaw took issue with my Sunday column, “Assisted Suicide — It’s Civil Rights for the Affluent.” Doctors have been killing people with morphine overdoses for the past century or so, he wrote. And: “Forcing someone to suffer to the last bitter moment because you want to save them from burning in hell is not dignity.”

I don’t know any credible opponent of assisted suicide who opposes doctors administering needed pain control, including lethal doses if necessary. That’s how medicine is supposed to work. Doctors alleviate pain. They prescribe not with the intent to kill but to stop suffering. If a patient dies from needed pain control, so be it. That’s how a compassionate health care system should work.

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The Left’s State of Disrepair

By 4.10.15

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.

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Republican Heart Throbs

By 4.10.15

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.

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Apple, Rehabilitate Thyself

By 4.8.15

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.

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Conservatives and Patent Reform

By 4.7.15

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.”

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Seize the High Ground for 2016

By and 4.3.15

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.”

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Killing Innocents—For A Good Reason: Today’s Herod, Caiaphas, and Pilate

By 4.3.15

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.

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What Really Went On Behind Closed Doors

By 3.30.15

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.

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United States of Arabia

By 3.26.15

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.