Thursday, December 21, 2017

A Commutation, Observant Jews, and a Tax Cut

Shalom Rubashkin - Free at last!
Thank you, Mr. President.  You have righted a wrong.  And corrected an injustice. Sholom Rubashkin who was convicted a financial crime had received a sentence far in excess of the typical sentence for a white collar criminal. Even greater than the 25 years the zealous prosecutors had asked for by 2 years! You are a humane individual that recognized an injustice and corrected it. For that, you deserve our everlasting thanks.

I never thought I would utter words like that about this President. But I just did. There is not a scintilla of doubt in my mind that Sholom Rubashkin was mistreated by the criminal justice system. Treatment like that for a first time offender of a white collar crime is in and of itself a ‘crime’. A crime against the very essence of what this country is all about: Compassion!  

Shalom Rubashkin was not treated that way. An over zealous judge acted with callousness that was breathtaking - despite her ‘explanation’ in the sentencing memorandum.

I am not going to re-hash the conversation about what Mr. Rabushkin was - and was not guilty of. At this point it no longer matters. 8 long years behind bars has long ago taken care of any just punishment he might have deserved. He is now a free man. Free to join his loving family. I am very happy for them.

Yesterday, President Trump commuted to time served - Shalom Rubashkin’s 27 year sentence handed down by Judge Linda Reade . He was not pardoned. Nor was he forgiven the financial portion of his sentence. There may be some additional restrictions as well. But one thing is certain, he will no longer be behind bars.

I’m sure I’m not the only one satisfied with this outcome. In fact I’m pretty sure that most of the people that know any of the details of this case feel the same way. When his sentence was announced it surprised even Rubashkin’s biggest detractors. Attorneys on his behalf immediately started work on his appeal. That eventually went nowhere.

Many prominent past and present government officials on both side of the political aisle  were contacted. They were asked to render an opinion on the verdict. In every case that I know about (and there were many) they agreed that the sentence was unjust and the sentence should be lightened. Some of them had even published those opinions by writing op-eds in major  media organs. None of this helped Mr. Rubashkin.  

As a last resort Rubashkin’s attorneys and many other fine media outlets (like the Wall Street Journal) joined the cause and asked the previous President to pardon him or at least commute his sentence.  This was done near the end of the previous President’s term. Many pardons are often issued by a President just before leaving office. Indeed there were many such pardons issued. But Sholom Rubashkin’s pardon was not among them. For some reason the previous President did not agree that the verdict was too harsh.

Once the new President took office, this was once again tried. This President agreed and set the man free. He did not wait until his last days in office. He did it yesterday, on the last day of Chanukah.

I am not at all surprised by this. President Trump has an unprecedented connection to observant Jews. His daughter converted to Judaism via an Orthodox Beis Din. His son in law is observant. His pick of US ambassador to Israel is observant. His point man (along with his son in law) on Israeli Palestinian issue is observant.

The President invited mostly observant Jews to the recent White House Chanukah party.

And with respect to Israel, his approach mirrors that of most observant Jews. He has declared Jerusalem the eternal capital of Israel without limiting it to West Jerusalem. Leaving the status of East Jerusalem purposely vague for Israel and the Palestinians to work out for themselves.

And he recently declared that the Kotel belongs to Israel under all circumstances.

He has chosen a woman as the US ambassador to the UN who has been championing of Israel’s cause and consistently condemning the anti Israel bias that goes on there on a daily basis in virtually all of its offices.

He has even stood up to the rest of the world's cowardly condemnation of his declaration about Jerusalem by telling  them there will be consequences to those who vote against the United States.Good for him! 

This is truly a sight to behold. Never thought I’d see anything like it. He has assured himself most of the Orthodox vote (small and insignificant though it may be.)

This does not mean I have changed my opinion of the manner in which he has conducted himself in office. I still believe that he has done much damage to our image by his infantile need to tweet every stupid thought that enters his brain. Nor have I let him off the hook for his disgusting comments about the sexual misconduct that he - as a celebrity - could get away with. Or his many foolish remarks that were taken by racists, bigots, and antisemites - and used to justify themselves their abhorrent views.  Or the times he has insulted world leaders. He has embarrassed this country more times than I can count.

A tax cut for all! - A unified Republican Party praises the President
But at the same time he has done a few good things too – outside of his relationship with the observant Jewish community. Like his involvement with the recently passed tax cuts, that will benefit everyone. The big corporate tax cut will boost the economy. It will help keep major corporations from seeking tax relief by relocating their headquarters and manufacturing facilities to other countries with lower tax rates.  That will help towards achieving a full employment economy thus creating more spendable income and thereby increase demand. Which in turn will help increase the number of jobs even even further. And it will  incentivize them to invest in updating their ‘plants and equipment’.

The only people that could possibly oppose this are those who attribute nefarious motives to the captains of industry – believing these tax cuts will only enrich  them even more with nothing passing down to the common man. I have more faith in humanity than that. Even ‘rich’ humanity. Being wealthy does not equal being evil. (Although that is the way the liberal mind seems to think.)

As I said right after the election. We will have to wait and see what happens with this President. And that we should give him a chance. I was disappointed at first because I saw things going south rather quickly. But now, it seems we are headed in a better direction.

The President seems to have done the impossible. He has united the Republican Party including its liberal wing (e.g. Senator Susan Collins).  Republican leaders are now singing his praises unlike anything I could have ever imagined. Just a few short months ago he could not find anything good to say about them and in some cases truly insulted and disparaged them. But now? ...all I can say is, ‘Wow’!