December 19, 2014
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My Take on the News
Legislators need to come clean on gifts from lobbyists
Lonnie Barham

GIFT REPORTING: Astonishingly, Rhode Island ethics laws do not require legislators to report extravagant gifts, whether they are from businesses, unions, huge corporations, or lobbyists - even when those bearing gifts have bills before the General Assembly. RI Senate leaders, including both Senate President Paiva Weed and Senate Majority Leader and union boss Dominick Ruggerio, have already availed themselves of gifts estimated at several thousand dollars. Do we, the taxpayers, know anything about these gifts, their total cost and the gift-givers’ motives? No! And, even though common courtesy to constituents dictates disclosure, these senate leaders will not come clean voluntarily. Why? Simply because we have no ethics law that requires them to. This must change and it must change this year!

CRANSTON BOOSTS ATHEISM: The whole Cranston prayer banner circus has brought out the worst in many Cranston residents who claim to be Christians, especially the adults who should be setting the example for students by practicing the Golden Rule they profess to believe in. The outrageous words and actions of many adults who support the banner compared to the calm, reasoned and logical voice of Ms. Ahlquist and her defenders, have boosted the appeal of atheism. Those who are undecided about whether or not there is a God, must look at the obnoxious behavior of many prayer banner supporters and say to themselves, “If this is how Christians act, I want no part of it!”

STUNNINGLY STUPID: Newt Gingrich’s comments are not always worth repeating. His opinion of President Obama’s rejection of the Canada to Texas oil pipeline as “stunningly stupid,” however, could not be more accurate. Obama says he wants to create jobs but kills 20,000 new jobs by his action. He says he wants to improve our energy security yet he forces Canada’s cheaper oil to go to China instead of to the U.S. Even labor unions, dependable supporters of Obama, are deeply upset that Obama caved to environmental activists. One national union leader exclaimed, “The score is Job-Killers two; American workers zero. We are completely and totally disappointed. This is politics at its worst.” Major newspapers also decried the job-killing move, to include the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, the Chicago Tribune, USA Today and others. Obama’s excuse that he needs more time to study the pipeline’s impact is pure hogwash! He has had three years of study, 20 scoping meetings, nine hearings, review of 1,800 comments and a nine-volume Environmental Impact Study. Apparently, Obama figures he has time to bring the unions back into his camp; in his elitist mind, after all, they’re just dumb blue collar workers. He’s not so confident about the better educated and less forgetful environmental activists. No, there is no excuse for Obama failing to do what’s best for the country – it’s just politics at its worst!

POLICE BRUTALITY CONVICTION: The Lincoln police officer accused of brutally kicking a handcuffed and defenseless woman in the head has been convicted in RI Superior Court. As a former police officer, this columnist was appalled by the video of the policeman acting with such vicious, inhuman malevolence. To protect the good reputation of the 99% of police officers who do great work, an example has to be made in the sentencing of this miserable bully – he must do prison time!

CATHOLIC CHURCH vs. OBAMACARE: As part of ObamaCare, certain employers must provide health insurance for their employees or face stiff fines. This includes church-affiliated employers. The wrinkle: church-affiliated employers must now include free birth preventive care as part of their health insurance. The Catholic Church and other religions contend this is a clear violation of the constitutional requirement for separation of church and state. NY Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan said, “Never before has the federal government forced individuals and organizations to…buy a product that violates their conscience.” A woman’s right to choose birth control should never be infringed; however, forcing her religious employer to provide it when the employer’s bedrock principles are in opposition is wrong. Just another big problem with Obama’s attempt to dictate how Americans live their lives!

PATS vs. GIANTS: It will be a Super Bowl contest between two teams who can barely say they “won” their conference championships. Instead, the two teams simply out-lasted their opponents in games more laden with mistakes and poor play than any two conference championship games in recent memory. We love the Pats and are pleased they are advancing to the big game, and happy their opponent will be the not-so-giant Giants; but what an unsatisfying way for the two teams to get there.


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