Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Bedside Meetings

I'm always suspicious of bedside meetings - you know, those times when someone is so ill that people have to gather at their bedside to get their approval, opinion, blessing, fill-in-the-blank. It's never a good idea and I'm always suspicious of the people gathering 'round the bed. They're generally trying to take advantage of someone who's too ill to think clearly.

I used to work with a woman who when her husband's aunt was dying had the attorney draw up new papers giving her and her husband the vacation home the aunt had verbally promised her.

My guess is the aunt had promised her something to get her to shut up, a technique those of us who worked with her could only dream of pressing into action. There was no such luck for us. So we had to listen to her justify having the aunt sign the papers on her death bed for the remaining six days of her life. And frankly, "justify" is a bit strong - that would imply she felt like it wasn't completely appropriate - she felt it was the only normal thing to do.

I'll just fast forward to the part of the story where the husband left her for a woman a third his age, and got possession of the vacation house at the same time. While he was no prize, he at least didn't show up at his aunt's bedside with a new will for her to sign before she died. Maybe only because he had a wife to do it for him, but for whatever reason, he didn't dirty himself that way. Which is just as well, because he was plenty nasty already. I see him around town every once in awhile, and wonder if the current wife knows her days are numbered.

She'll be gone, too, as soon as he meets someone younger who wants to enjoy the vacation home. Then he'll have an affair with her and get divorced and marry her instead. Lather, rinse, repeat. This is an opportune time for me to mention one of the obvious rules of relationships - If he cheats with you, he'll cheat on you. Write it down, ladies, it's a rule to live by. Frankly, write it down, gentleman, it's just as true for women.

Well, you may be wondering where I'm going with this meandering jaunt about bedside meetings. Well, my friend, Mark sent me an AP story this morning about yet another bedside meeting where, yet again, someone was trying to take advantage of an ill person.

And, here's another tip - when even John Ashcroft is iffy on it, don't go there - not at the bedside or anywhere else - just say "no."


White House pushed Ashcroft on wiretaps

By LAURIE KELLMAN, Associated Press

President Bush's warrantless wiretapping program was so questionable that a top Justice Department official refused for a time to reauthorize it, sparking a battle with top White House officials at the bedside of an ailing attorney general, a Senate panel was told Tuesday.

Former Deputy Attorney General James Comey told the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday that he refused to recertify the program because Attorney General John Ashcroft had reservations about its legality just before falling ill with pancreatitis in March 2004.

Comey, the acting attorney general during Ashcroft's absence, said then-White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales and former White House Chief of Staff Andy Card responded by trying to get Ashcroft to sign the recertification from his bed at George Washington University Hospital.

During that dramatic meeting, also attended by Comey, Ashcroft lifted his head off the pillow and appeared reluctant to sign the document, pointing out that Comey held the powers of the office.

Gonzales and Card then left the hospital room, Comey said.

"I was angry," Comey told the panel. "I thought I had just witnessed an effort to take advantage of a very sick man who did not have the powers of the attorney general."

The hospital room confrontation had been previously reported, but this was the first time Comey has spoken about it publicly.