Thursday, February 28, 2008

Bill Buckley


Liberals have always had a problem with Bill Buckley,
though it is not what many suppose. He was a very
engaging man. And I mean every word of that sentence.

The first thing you noticed about him was his joy; it
streamed from his eyes; it flashed in his smile. And
joy, as C.S. Lewis reminds us, is the talisman of a
sentient and grateful being. To be under the
grace of God is to be joyful.

That Bill was engaging no one will deny. And here was
the problem that liberals fortunate enough to be
counted among his friends struggled with for as long
as God permitted him to remain among us: When he and
his wife, Pat, invited you into their home, you
partook of their friendship, and Bill's capacity for
friendship was as large as his capacity for joy. His
assault on the heart was irresistible.

For liberals who wanted to preserve the pinata they
treasured in their minds whenever they summoned up a
conservative for flogging, this was a problem. Try to
imagine a furnace in which all the petty vices of life
are burned up, and you will have an image of what it
was like to be invited into Buckley's heart and home.
He could not taste a joy without inviting others to
the feast. I would guess, judging from the company I
met when visiting him in Stamford, Buckley had as many
liberal as conservative friends, all of whom are now
grieving at their irrecoverable loss.

Others have remarked on Bill's gargantuan physical and
mental energy. No one in the intellectual rat race
could keep up with him. But it takes more than this to
make a man. It takes (C.S. Lewis again) a chest. It is
magnanimity, largeness of heart, that makes the man.
It is part of the mystery of man that a man's heart is
larger than his world of experience. Buckley's heart,
the seat of all true wisdom, had in it many mansions.

When Tolstoy died, the Russian writer Maxim Gorky said
that his passing left him an orphan on the earth. He
meant that while Tolstoy lived, the courage that
streamed from the great writer bathed his own
sensibilities in the water of life; that while Tolstoy
lived, Gorky knew that the world could not be lost
that had in it such a man; but now he was gone, and
Gorky felt at his passing the first arid breath of a
soul-shriveling cynicism.

Cynicism never had a snowball’s chance in Hell of
surviving in Buckley's presence. It was all burnt up
in the furnace of his intellect. Many people will not
believe that Buckley, in private, did not "ever," as
he put it in, "nearer, my God, to Thee," bring up his
political faith or religion "unless specifically
questioned about it." Why? "There is something about
the modern disposition (the social protocol absolutely
rules over me) that compels even those who believe in
Him to keep all such matters tidily secluded in their
own tent."

The trouble with bad manners, Buckley once said, is
that they often lead to murder.

But there was one occasion, during one of our visits,
that he slipped. We had just finished a meal -- lamb
chops with rosy centers that Buckley ate, much to the
delight of my wife, hands-on, which is the way Andree
eats them, despite her worries about social protocol
-- when he became fascinated with Jake, Andree’s
German shepherd guide dog.

"I wonder," Buckley said, "if there are dogs in
Heaven."

I wanted to say, "Of course there are dogs in heaven.
If there aren't, I'm staying here." But instead I
tailspinned into some platonic nonsense about the
possibility of there being "dogginess" in Heaven --
the dog made perfect, so to speak -- at which point
Buckley gave out a benign smile and allowed that he
had something in mind more specific than that.

He was thinking, I now realize, of the rather
imperfect dog he had loved as a young boy. For a
moment, hijacked by a memory, he had become
irresistibly innocent.

Who says you can't take it with you? Of course there
are dogs in heaven and wit and lively conversation and
sisters left behind long ago and watchful mothers and
paternal fathers -- and Bill.

HSA, RATIONAL ALTERNATIVE FOR HEALTH CARE

Congressional efforts to pass S-CHIP in this, the second most important issue in the election, continue to fail. At the state level, one after another the states are finding the cost more than their budgets can tolerate. Among the presidential candidates, the subject, if it comes up, is Hillarycare: universal, probably single payer—failures where it is used.. “I can think of parallels in wartime, but I have trouble coming up with a precedent in our peacetime history for such broad and centralized control over a sector of the economy,” the Wall Street Journal editorialized on February 2-3.

Discussion of alternatives does not exist. The public is led to believe that universal is the only kind. The best alternatives, Health Savings Accounts and FEHBP (Federal Employes Health Benefit Program), are not even mentioned. HSA introduces motivation. Not a third party, but the patient, pays the bills. HSA is permitted in all but four states.

The large corporations that pay the health-care premiums for their employees are enjoying huge savings with Health Savings Accounts. Whole Foods, one of the first to adopt HSA five years ago, puts $1,000 in each employee’s special savings account each year ($2,100 if a family). The employee can use those funds to pay doctors’ bills and save the rest. At the end of the year, the amount not spent goes into the employee’s account for the next year. What is different about HSA is that the employee is motivated to keep spending low. He asks the doctor what the cost will be.

Meanwhile, costs are rising fast. To control them, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton announced seven-points in her September 17, 2007, speech in Des Moines :

--Ensure better preventive care.

--Modernize record-keeping.

--Streamline care for the chronically ill.

--Create large insurance pools.

--Start a “Best practices Institute” to finance research.

--Control prescription drug costs.

--Revise medical malpractice system.


The electronic record-keeping is not likely to happen before 2015, nor is it likely to be available to all doctors because of the high cost of its equipment.

There are other changes that could be made and would have an effect on costs. Individuals could buy insurance with tax-free dollars as are now available to employers who provide their employees with insurance. Doctors could be allowed to practice outside their state. Individuals could be allowed to buy insurance in a state other than their own. There are wide differences among states.

Senator McCain has ideas: promoting generic drugs “and biologics” (what are they?); walk-in clinics at unconventional locations like Wal-Mart stores; shifting some care to nurse practitioners; protection of doctors through tort reform; “using the bully pulpit” to promote disease-protection by healthy diets and exercise.

The cost of health care needs to be taken very seriously. It now costs 16 percent of gross domestic product. By 2015, it is projected to rise to 20 percent. The Congressional Budget Office projects that spending on Medicare and Medicaid alone will eat up a fourth of Gross Domestic Product by 2050.

An important reason for high cost is that people are required to be insured for things they do not want. Thus Texas requires that insurance include in vitro fertilization, acupuncture, marriage counseling, and fifty other features. Four states require obesity treatment; ten require wigs; four, naturopaths; four, massage therapists. The total of mandates has gone from 1,901 to 1,960 in one year. New categories have been created: to cover people under someone else’s policy: grandchildren, legal aliens, domestic partners, elderly parents. Some states require insurance be given to anyone who applies, regardless of health condition. Those costs are passed on to consumers (if they keep their insurance). In Massachusetts , people with high deductibles are required to switch to more expensive policies in order to meet the state’s definition of deductible.

One has to wonder why Hillary is not deterred by rising costs. Her primary concern is universal coverage. Those are the choices: cost vs. coverage. Senator Barack Obama was initially concerned that (only) children be insured. His plan is somewhat different. He speaks of reducing premiums. He contemplates enlarging the present system of Medicare and Medicaid by making available to the public an existing plan, FEHBP, Federal Employees Health Benefits Program. Hillary has twice made passing reference to this plan though not by name.

Congress established FEHBP long before Medicare and Medicaid for all Federal employees. FEHBP, like Medicare, overrides state laws, and no one eligible to join can be excluded. FEHBP offers federal employees a choice of 240 different private plans (none of which is government run) which means 240 companies compete with each other in innovations. FEHBP covers prescription drugs which were not originally included in Medicare.

The Government pays a portion of the FEHBP premium. Each year, the insured have a few weeks in which to switch from their existing plan, if it no longer serves their needs, to another. Some 85 percent of those insured with FEHBP find it very satisfactory. FEHBP has been able to control costs. Over two decades, insurance cost has risen by 6.5 percent annually, compared to 9.1 percent for all health-care insurance.

What should we consumers do? John Stossel has advice. He says buy a policy with a big deductible ($1,000, $2,100 for family). Pay the small doctors’ bills out of pocket. Let the insurance company handle cancer and heart attacks. Now that we have to pay, we will start asking questions about prices, which will help slow their rise.

by Natalie Sirkin
c2008

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

A Barack and Bill Ticket Would Leave Dodd in Nowheresville


The first rat to leave the Clinton’s sinking ship was David Wilhelm. US Sen. Chris Dodd has now joined those leaping off the burning deck of the USS Clinton, according to the Hartford Courant.

“[Dodd's]support of Obama may clash with his longtime friendship with the Clintons. After the Republicans swept into Congress on a "Contract with America" wave in 1994, President Clinton picked Dodd as the chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

“Some pundits had even guessed that Dodd would be a possible vice presidential choice for Hillary Clinton.”

As always in politics, the question arises, “What’s love got to do with it?”

Since Barrack Obama has staked out a political position even further to the left of that of Dodd, he will be fetching around for a moderate Democrat as Vice President, so as to garner more votes from moderate Democrats and Republicans in the general election. A good choice might be Sen. Joe Lieberman, the last moderate Democrat standing in his party.

Or, if only it were possible, why not Bill?

The former president, widely considered a moderate, is not constitutionally prohibited from running for VP, and the ambitions of the Clintons are such that Bill might not immediately reject the move as an ill considered gambit from a presidential candidate of shallow experience.

Monday, February 25, 2008

The Times on Barack Obama



Gerard Baker of the Times – No,no, not the New York Times, but the Times of London
– weighs in on Barack Obama and the eternal question: Have we become France?

“There is a caste of left-wing Americans who wish essentially and in all honesty that their country was much more like France. They wish it had much higher levels of taxation and government intervention, that it had much higher levels of welfare, that it did not have such a “militaristic” approach to foreign policy. Above all, that its national goals were dictated, not by the dreadful halfwits who inhabit godforsaken places like Kansas and Mississippi, but by the counsels of the United Nations.

“Though Mr Obama has done a good job, as all recent serious Democrats have done, of emphasizing his belief in American virtues, his record and his programme suggest he is firmly in line with this wing of his party…

"He wants to tax the rich more to pay for [the programs he favors]. He is against companies using the opportunities of free markets to restructure their operations in the US. He is vehemently protectionist. He continues to insist, despite the growing evidence that this left-wing nostrum would be lunacy, that the US must pull its troops out of Iraq with the utmost dispatch.

“While he speaks of the need for Americans to move beyond partisanship (“We are not blue states or red states, but the United States” is a campaign meme), when you cut through the verbiage there is nothing to suggest he believes anything that is seriously at odds with the far Left of his party. If you think about it for a second, it's not really an accident that he has been endorsed by the likes of Ted Kennedy and Jesse Jackson…

“America is certainly moving left in the post-George Bush era. The long period of conservative ascendancy is clearly over, buried by a Republican Party of recent years that has preached intolerance and practiced incompetence. That a new era in American politics is beginning is not in doubt. But are Americans really ready to leap all the way across in one go to embrace a European-style Left?”


In a word – maybe.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Another Wrinkle in Time Enters the Democrat Battle for the Little Guy

Those on the left who love words should love Ralph Nader. He’s very wordy. But they don’t.

Reacting to Nader's announcement that he plans to run for president on the Democrat ticket -- again -- Barack Obama said, "He [Nader] thought that there was no difference between Al Gore and George Bush and, eight years later, I think people realize that Ralph did not know what he was talking about.”

Hillary Clinton thought Nader’s entry into the race was "very unfortunate." As a woman of some experience, Clinton said, "I remember when he ran before. It didn't turn out very well for anybody -- especially our country. This time I hope it doesn't hurt anyone. I can't think of anybody that would vote for Sen. McCain who would vote for Ralph Nader."

Once a spoiler, always a spoiler.

Nader thinks of himself as an revivified Thomas Jefferson: "A Jeffersonian revolution is needed in this country.”

Momentous changes in U.S. history, Nader said, have been advanced "through little parties that never won any national election. Dissent is the mother of ascent. And in that context I've decided to run for president."

Ego and self gratification has nothing to do with Nader’s posturing.

Raul, On With the Revolution

The world, or at least that part of it that reads the New York Times, was shocked today when it was announced that Raul Castro – brother dearest, who introduced Fidel to communism – has taken command of Cuba in the wake of Fidel’s near death experience. Raul is expected to continue to provoke the freedom loving people of the United States of America until he too turns up a corpse, which should not take long, according to respected actuaries; Castro’s brother, very nearly an animated corpse himself, though he is said to be a pragmatist (like William James), is pushing 78. Waiting in the wings are Castro’s sons; the head of Fidel’s secret police, the honorable Gen. Abelardo Colomé Ibarra, the Cuban revolution’s Lavrentiy Pavlovich Beria; and the promise of science, communist style, which holds out the possibility that a cutting from Lenin’s beard may be used to revive his corpse, giving birth to a new and henceforth immortal leader of the world-wide communist revolution. Lenin is dead; long live Lenin. Castro is dead (almost), long live Castro.

McCain vs Keller of the New York Times




Q: The initial story in the New York Times centering upon John McCain’s purported affair with…

A: Wait, wait, wait. Let’s get it right. The affair was more than purported. It was reported in the Times, however obliquely. And that was the center of the story. All the other “news” in the story, most of it rehashed, was clustered around that volcanic charge. The Times was widely understood as asserting that there was an affair, and all the other reports and insinuations and gossip that followed that story was grounded in the certainty that McCain had an affair.

Q: Okay, I got that. And you’re asserting that there was no affair.

A: No, I’m not. But that’s the beauty of dirt: If you throw enough of it, some will stick – stick, not stain. McCain has denied an affair occurred, so has the woman. The editor of Newsweek, familiar with most of the details concerning the run-up to the story, says his journalistic rectitude would not have permitted him to run the story. The charge ventilated by the Times, serious enough to torpedo a presidential campaign, was made by anonymous sources. Since the story has been challenged, no one else has come forward to assert there was an affair. I think at this point we should assume the story had no legs and then ask, that being the case, why was it printed? Massive goofs of this kind should not be put to bed without an intensive examination.

Q: And, as usual, you have your own theory.

A: I do. I put it forward only as a likely possibility. There are several reasons, all of them plausible.

Q: Shoot.

A: I think, as many others do, it was very odd that the paper endorsed the McCain candidacy while news reporters had this story in hand.

Q: Sure, but in most papers, there is an intentional disconnection between opinion and news.

A: True, but there is also a live connection, because the publisher signs off on editorials and he also may intervene with news room operations. I do not believe that the Executive Editor of the Times overseeing that story, Bill Keller [pictured above], did not share the story with the publisher. Ruining Republican presidential campaigns is becoming something of a tradition at the Times, so much so that some commentators have accused the paper of – gasp! – liberal activism. This is okay if the president is Richard Nixon and you have the goods on him. But the “goods” in this story – by which I mean the charge that McCain had an affair with the lobbyist mentioned -- were, in my humble opinion, bunk. The story was heavily padded with instances, some of them long since defused, purporting to show that McCain was in the pocket of lobbyists. And now that grave doubts have been cast upon the central assertion, the usual culprits are anxious to change the subject. But why move on if mistakes, very serious ones, have not been corrected? We still don’t know who killed cock robin – or why. My theory is that Keller permitted himself to be pressured into printing a story he knew was defective.

Q: By whom?

A: By the reporters who wrote the story, and perhaps his own liberal interior gyroscope. Keller came aboard the paper in the midst of a reportorial scandal. Led astray by unreliable sources, Judith Miller had written a series of stories for the Times on weapons of mass destruction that were later discredited. According to an extensive piece in New York magazine, it took Keller “ten months to even address the question of whether the paper needed to make amends for Judith Miller’s discredited stories on Iraq’s illusory weapons of mass destruction, which had been published under Raines [the editor Keller displaced]. By that time, it was clear that Miller had, at best, been led astray by unreliable sources and that there were serious problems with her reporting. At that point, Keller gathered his top lieutenants, including Managing Editor Jill Abramson, and asked them how far the paper ought to go in investigating those stories. The consensus that emerged was that the paper should not pursue an internal review on the scale of what had been done following Jayson Blair because it would be too damaging for a newsroom still recovering from that scandal. Keller, who was inclined to make recovery his top priority, agreed.” So, here we go again. Some people never learn.

Q: The story you’re referencing in New York magazine leads with an affair Keller had with his second wife, before he was married to her. Why wouldn’t his own experience raise a red flag in stories about marital infidelity?

A: That’s a good question. Keller apparently was happily married to another journalist when he met his soon to be new bride. Of course, no self respecting politician these days honors marital fidelity. Here in Connecticut, both US senators, Joe Lieberman and Chris Dodd, traded in their old brides for new models, a practice common in congress. But Keller had an affair, got the girl pregnant, divorced his wife and married his new flame who, according to the New York magazine profile, had been around the block a few times: “Her exes included Senator John Kerry and Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour.” Well, you know, if the French can do it -- French premiere Nicholas Sarkozy appears to be besotted with a similar lovely young thing – why not editors for the Times? Are we not cosmopolitans? Keller could not easily let the McCain story go by.

Q: Why not? He was simpatico.

A: Ah, poor thing, you do not understand the journalism business. One is not supposed to be directed in these matters by one’s own cherished – what to call them? – inclinations, ideals, prejudices. How many Catholic politicians in Connecticut support, just to fetch for an example, a ban on partial birth abortion? Not a one. If you are a journalist, you must not let your personal inclinations interfere with your job, which – here in the Northeast – requires you to kick against the mostly conservative pricks. Unconventionality has become the new convention. Keller, on my theory, could not have been sympathetic to McCain, accused of infidelity, without causing the noses of his reporters to curl up in disdain: Ah, you see! He doesn’t want us to go with the story because he has violated the prescriptions of his church. Keller is (guffaw here) a Catholic. Moreover, he cheated on his wife.

Q: Of course, you offer no proof in support of your theory. Aren’t you just as bad as Keller?

A: Right.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Castro We Hardly Knew Ya




Communist dictator Fidel Castro’s non-obituary is beginning to appear in newspapers, now that he has officially surrendered his position as president of Cuba.

Castro held the position, bayonet in hand, ever since he seized power in Cuba on New Year’s Day, 1959. The communist dynasty now falls to his brother Raul, 76 years young.

Despite keystone cop like attempts to remove the now ailing dictator and relieve Cuba of its incubus, the most serious of which was President John Kennedy’s Bay of Pig’s fiasco, Castro’s Cuba has been relatively free of the usual plots and mayhem associated with communist regimes.

Other communist leaders were not so lucky. Trotsky died at the hands of an assassin sent to Mexico by Stalin, who dispatched the war hero and party theoretician with a hatchet. Stalin, “the Breaker of Nations,” authorized the Great Purge of 1937-39, which eliminated opposition from the Old Bolsheviks, and anyone else he thought might oppose his steely will. Stalin himself was poisoned by his successor, Nikita Khrushchev, who was ousted from office and sent into exile by his successor, Leonid Brezhnev, he of the unruly eyebrows. The Communist succession in the Soviet Union reads like a page torn out of Suetonius’ “Lives of The Twelve Caesars,” madness piled on madness.

Remaining conspicuously loyal to Khrushchev, Brezhnev organized a plot to remove his former patron. In October 1964, while Khrushchev was on holiday, Brezhnev and his co-conspirators denounced Khrushchev before the Central Committee for immodest behavior, economic failures – though these, more properly, should have been laid at the feet of Lennin and Karl Marx – and voluntarism.

By the mid-1970’s Brezhnev had developed a narcotic dependence on sleeping pill, fed to him regularly by his nurse-companion; finally, his heart gave way, though not from any strain put on it by compassion and magniminity.

Not as deep a thinker as Trotsky, not quite as vicious as Stalin, Castro is the Brezhnev of Latin America. An egomaniac, he has lived a long life full of betrayals and plots, and he will die in his bedwith a smile on his face, a withered old man convinced that he has been faithful to the never ending revolution, if not to the real humane aspirations of the Cuban people.

A real obit whould cheer the sons of liberty everwhere on the planet.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Hillary and the Correlation of Forces

Over at National Review, conservatives are stumping for Hillary Clinton as the Democrat nominee for president, but the leftists aren’t so sure: “Liberal op-ed writers and disenchanted former Clintonites aren’t huge voting blocs. But they are a symptom of what will be an enduring problem for Hillary. If she wins, she will have to regain support from the party elites. She will have to court affluent liberals, the nostalgic Ted Kennedy crowd, and African-Americans. She already had a problem with the left-wing ‘netroots,’ many of whom have long considered her a sellout over the Iraq War. She went to the Yearly Kos convention — where she was booed — and will be obliged to do much more to repair those relationships. MoveOn.org, the liberal outfit originally organized to defend the Clintons from their series of scandals, has endorsed Barack Obama. The closely contested primary means that Hillary will be wooing the most liberal constituencies among her party’s die-hards just when she would like to position herself as a pragmatic centrist who can appeal beyond the Democratic base.”

The undecideds tend to vote on personality and the broad issues, a tendency that may help Republicans if Hillary is the Democrat nominee. “‘She has tremendous baggage, high negatives, and she can’t be the candidate of change,’ says a top Republican strategist who pines for her to be the nominee. He explains that swing voters decide on the basis of personality and broad issues, such as whether or not the country is on the right track. He believes that Hillary opens up possibilities for Republicans in the same way that Al Gore and John Kerry did — in fact, she has the potential to act like a vote-repelling combination of the two. ‘Even though [swing voters] thought the country was on the right track, they didn’t like Al Gore,’ the Republican strategist says of the 2000 election. Republicans won in 2004 through massive turnout. ‘She turns out the Republican base in a major way,’ he says. ‘The more people see her, the less they like her. How will people like that laugh in ten months?’”

Hillary would be a liability for Democrats that just might offset Republican liabilities. Even though Republicans are faced with an unpopular president, an unpopular war, and a dispirited base, "The good news they look forward to is the nomination of Hillary. A House Republican leader believes that about 40 of the 60 House Democrats in congressional districts carried by George Bush in 2004 are vulnerable. He predicts they will be even more vulnerable when ‘we can hang Hillary around their necks.’ GOP leaders also expect their anemic fundraising to pick up if Republicans are running against Hillary.”

In the Terrorist Network, All Roads Lead To Iran


It used to be said, when the Roman Empire was still a going concern, that all roads lead to Rome. In the same way it might be said that, in the age of Mughniyeh, all terrorist networks lead to Iran.

“Mughniyeh's legacy,” Caroline Glick writes in a stunning retrospective of the terrorist network, “is not simply a laundry list of massacre and torture. It is the nexus of global terror. While it is a great thing that he is dead, it must be understood that his death is insufficient. Hundreds of thousands converged in Beirut to celebrate his life's work. The West must understand the significance of that work and unite to destroy it - layer after layer.”

Sunday, February 17, 2008

The Return Of The Smoke Filled Back Room


Campaign reformists may have thought that they had saved democratic politics from the sweaty men in the smoke filled back rooms when primaries were instituted to clip their influence. But the smoke filled back room – minus the smoke, of course -- is back.

In pre-primary days, party tickets were fashioned by party delegates in state and national conventions, but the deciders were party bosses, usually state and national party chairmen allied with political shakers and movers.

Then came primaries, and the backroom boys gave way to new movers and shakers. Primaries were supposed to put party voters in the catbird seat.

Then came, open primaries, in which non-party members were permitted to shape the party ticket and campaign finance reform, followed by the general dissolution of political parties. The result of all this reforming may be seen most dramatically in the failed presidential campaign of Connecticut’s US Sen. Chris Dodd.

Dodd, who never garnered more than 2% of the vote in his bid for the presidency, returned to his home state with empty hands. His pockets, however, were not empty. Dodd raised $16 million for his feckless campaign, and at its terminus he still had considerable change jingling in his campaign coffers.

Dodd’s homecoming was celebrated on the pages of the Hartford Courant in a front page puff piece written by Jesse Hamilton, the paper’s Washington Bureau Chief, “Back On The Tracks.”

In the senate, and among his political homies, Dodd’s rep was undiminished by his embarrassing showing. Sen. Edwards Kennedy, the Northeast political fixture Dodd most closely approximates, said, “He ran for all the right reasons, to serve the nation in this time of urgent need, and he'll be an even better senator because of it. Campaigning across the country and meeting people from all different backgrounds only reinvigorates why you're in public service. The best is still yet to come from Chris in the Senate.”

His close friend Rep. John Larson, who inherited from former 1st District Congresswoman Barbara Kennelly a safe seat he could lose only if he is found in bed with a dead woman or a live man, said Dodd might be considered among the contenders for the vice presidency or some other post in the executive, assuming Democrats prevail, over Republicans in the coming general election. Dodd, Larson pointed out, has a stool in both camps: “He's more of a fit in the Obama camp, but he's highly regarded by the Clinton camp, also.”

A light begins to dawn, though it is still dusk at the Courant: Perhaps Dodd, that clever old fox, was running to make a point made more effectively by Barack Obama and Cindy Sheehan – get the troops home from Iraq right now, come what may.

Or perhaps he wanted to flex his money generating muscle. Despite hints in the Courant puff piece that Dodd fled the presidential field after Iowa because he didn’t want to end up on skid row, he used his position in the senate to finance his campaign and came out of the ordeal flush with money.

Dodd, in fact, is his own petite Political Party; so is his fellow Democrat Sen. Joe Lieberman, who lost in a primary to liberal heart throb Ned Lamont but vanquished Lamont in a general election. And why not? Who needs political parties?

All of which brings us back to the empty smoke filled rooms, now repopulated with super delegates. This is the perfect end of campaign reform: We are brought back to the beginning. The super delegates, the good old boys (and gals) of the Democrat Party, have now become roving, unattached electors who are in a perfect position to trump decisions made in primaries.

So far, with miles to go before we sleep, the super delegates have received $890,000 from the Obama and Clinton camps. In the good old days of the smoke filled rooms, campaigns were bought with a wink and a nod.

Qui Bono? Long live campaign reform -sucker!

The Coming Recession

It’s always nice to know that bi-partisanship in the U.S. Congress is not dead. Congressional Republicans and Democrats have come together to “stimulate” an economy they have been throttling throughout the administration of George Bush, without vigorous protest, it might be added, by the leaders of either party.

Courant columnist, former counselor to former President Bill Clinton, and former gubernatorial candidate for governor on the Democrat ticket Bill Curry notes in his Sunday column that it is the near elections, and voters bugged by the collapse of fraudulent lending practices in the housing market, that have stimulated the stimulus package. “At heart,” Curry reminds us, “stimulus is a Democratic project,” as is excessive spending; though, Lord knows, Bush, attempting to buy his way through a war by yielding to budget padders, has hardly been an effective breakwater.

The stimulus is likely to fend off a recession that will deepen the longer it is postponed by cheery bi-partisanship, and it has been proposed that here in Connecticut Democrats, who control the legislature, and Republicans should buss up and support a similar attempt to goose the state’s laggard economy.

The posturing, no doubt, will ease all the incumbents through very trying times.

Could it be possible that what the country really needs – in addition to a spending lockbox – is less bi-partisanship?

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Change For Change’s Sake


John McCain has been conducting a guerrilla war against the poobahs of his party for lo these many years, and so it is not surprising there are some within the Republican Party who feel he richly deserves a boot in the rear. That boot, some of them realize, can only be administered at their peril.

Barack Obama does not have this problem, at least yet. Some of the grey heads of the Democrat Party, prominent among them Sen. Edward Kennedy, have eagerly jumped aboard his campaign. Of course, early roadblocks in Kennedy's career -- one thinks of Chappaquiddick -- have placed the presidency well beyond Kennedy’s reach, but this, not at all surprisingly, has freed the most demagogic of the Kennedys to be the uncrowned king of Camelot. Kennedy sees in Obama a reprise of Camelot, King Arthur this time played by an African American. If Obama is by most reckonings the most liberal senator in the United States, Kennedy trails very closely behind. So, in some ways, an Obama win would vindicate Kennedy’s entire political career.

The news that Obama appears to be snuffing out the Clintons has not put such as the Reverend Al Sharpton in an ebullient mood, and Jesse Jackson has been very quiet lately. Perhaps both have that issue of National Review magazine in which John O’Sullivan welcomed the Obama candidacy as a “post racist” endeavor. It is also, O'Sullivan reminds us, a post-American endeavor, which may mean that Europeans once again may come to like us in the Obama era after the jihadists have driven us from what used to be called the crescent of Western civilization.

The end of racial posturing would fairly bring to a close the careers of both Sharpton and Jackson. When all the juice has been squeezed out of the racist lemon, we can toss the rind on the ash heap of history.

The criticism on Obama from the right is not so much that he clams up in the absence of a teleprompter; it is that there is no there behind the sonorous speeches, most of which revolve around the imperative of change. Omaba's campaign record is full of position papers, to be sure, but once in office the terrible responsibilities of the presidency have a way of softening positions one has taken in distorting primaries. Change is good, a fellow controversialist reminds me, except when it’s bad. And no one will know for certain that the changes Obama has in mind for the country will be good until it is too late to change the changes.

Primaries, in which the candidates address themselves to party activists, distort elections. The message Obama and McCain are sending to the party wings in primaries may not be the message that the general electorate wants to hear. More importantly, it may not be the message the American public needs to hear.

On the left, anti-war party activists are hoping that Obama is serious when he has pledged to bring the troops home from Iraq without regard to the consequences involved. On the right, conservatives are hoping that current events in Iraq, very much different than they were when the anti-war hoopla began, will persuade the better angels of Obama’s nature that such “solutions” as he has threatened to implement are ill advised. Americans do not like to lose wars, particularly when the loss is certain to increase against their country the kind of violence so ably practiced by Imad Mughniyeh, one of the world’s most wanted terrorist who succumbed to a bomb in Syria, where he was offered safe harbor after having been implicated in the 1983 bombings of the U.S. Embassy, and U.S. Marine and French peacekeeping barracks, which killed over 350, as well as the 1992 bombings of the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires and the kidnapping of dozens of foreigners in Lebanon in the 1980s.

Mughniyeh’s activity preceded both President George Bush's current administration and the occupation of Iraq by American troops. And when the last troop has left Iraq, prematurely, it is doubtful that America’s standing in the world will be enhanced by surrendering control of the country – and the Kurds, who have done everything we have asked of them – to Mughniyeh’s hosts in Syria and end-of-time nut jobs like the current president of Iran.

It’s a dangerous world out there.

In the general election, the American people will listen carefully to the candidates and decide to whom they wish to entrust their fate.

May they choose wisely. History offers very few second chances to those who choose unwisely.

Rat Number 1

David Wilhelm, who once led former President Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential bid, apparently has jumped the burning deck and joined forces with Captain Obama.

The Obama camp plans to announce the defection of the former Chairman of the Democratic National Committee on Wednesday, named after Woden, whom Anglo Saxons worshiped as a godly undertaker, a carrier off of the dead.

Missing in Action -- Obama, Clinton

According to a New York Times report, “the Senate handed the White House a major victory on Tuesday by voting to broaden the government’s spy powers and to give legal protection to phone companies that cooperated in President Bush’s program of eavesdropping without warrants.”

The bill, approved by the senate in a 68 to 29 vote, “allows the government to eavesdrop on large bundles of foreign-based communications on its own authority so long as Americans are not the targets. A secret intelligence court, which traditionally has issued individual warrants before wiretapping began, would review the procedures set up by the executive branch only after the fact to determine whether there were abuses involving Americans.”

According to the paper, “Among the presidential contenders, Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, voted in favor of the final measure, while the two Democrats, Senator Barack Obama of Illinois and Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, did not vote.”

There is no word at this early date from Sen. Chris Dodd’s office criticizing the two Democrat presidential contenders for failing to uphold his version of the US Constitution.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

NEW ENGLAND TOWN MEETING, PEOPLE ARE SOVEREIGN

Three centuries ago, when settlers moved into New Fairfield and Sherman, it was they, groups of sovereign citizens assembled, who, without the aid of elected officials, ran the town in Town Meetings (they were one town then). In time they apointed an agent to run the town between Town Meetings, under the direction of Town Meeting. The idea of an agent had originated in the Massachusetts Bay Colony and had been brought to Connecticut by settlers.

The agent who superintend the concerns of the town was called selectman. That has not changed in theory, though in practice, near total control has moved to the selectmen—to a Board of Selectmen. In law, it remains as it was originally: The Connecticut Supreme Court in 2006 determined that the Town Meeting is still supreme in the case of Morris v. Congdon.

Everyone has a right to be a Patrick Henry. Patrick Henry made his disagreements heard, not once but repeatedly during the discussion of whether to adopt a bill of rights. The Constitution having been debated and written and waiting to be signed by delegates from 12 of the 13 states to the Philadelphia Convention in 1787, James Madison, worked endlessly to see a Bill of Rights adopted to secure the liberties of individuals. Patrick Henry’s concern was that a Bill of Rights would not serve individuals for it would take authority away from the states and give it to an all-too-powerful federal government. His lengthy speeches were listened to respectfully in the long hot summer of 1787, to the consternation of Madison.

Patrick Henry is not mentioned in the Connecticut Supreme Court’s decision but he could have been. A few years ago, in the town of Preston, Connecticut, fifty voters signed a petition for the purpose of eliminating the town planner. The petition asked the Board of Selectmen to warn a special town meeting for that purpose. The Selectmen refused. They said the purpose was illegal, as the power to hire and fire town employees was theirs. They said, further, that they had discretion to refuse to warn a Town Meeting.

Two residents of Preston, Bruce Morris and George Kleeman, went to court. The court ruled against them, upholding the arguments of the selectmen. Plaintiffs Morris and Kleeman then appealed to the Appellate Court. It also ruled against them. They then appealed to the Connecticut Supreme Court, which upheld them.

The Supreme Court held that “in the absence of a charter, ordinance, or statute to the contrary, basic policy decisions are within the town meeting’s authority, while the selectmen have authority over the administration of those decisions.” Towns could (and can) adopt charters to transfer authority from a Town Meeting to the Board of Selectmen and make other changes, but absent ordinance or statute, towns that did not adopt a charter transferring such legislative authority operated under the Home Rule section of the General Statutes, Section 7-1. Preston (like New Fairfield and Sherman) is one of 66 Connecticut towns without a charter.

Sec. 7-1 of the Connecticut General Statutes says that the Selectmen are not required to warn a special town meeting if the purpose is improper or illegal. That was the argument of the Selectmen and the decision by the two lower courts.

The Supreme Court cited the case of Windham Taxpayers Association, in which residents petitioned for a special town meeting to set a time and place for a town-wide referendum to rescind the funding-appropriation for a new school. However, Windham had a charter which transferred legislative authority from Town Meeting to the Selectmen, so was not relevant to Preston.

The defendant selectmen argued that the real purpose of the plaintiffs was to fire the incumbent planner, and that was improper. Plaintiffs Morris and Kleeman stated that their objective was not getting rid of a planner, any planner, any time, and that Preston should not have any paid town planner, part-time or full-time. The court held that the defendants were asking the court to look behind the plaintiffs’ stated purpose of the town meeting to peer into the plaintiffs’ motivation but were unable to cite any relevant authority sanctioning that procedure. The court cited an 1893 decision in which a former chief of police of Bridgeport claimed that the common council had passed an ordinance eliminating his position so as to remove him from office. The then-court reasoned that “we are not to presume an improper motive. If the ordinance can be supported as a legitimate exercise by the common council of its authority . . . it is our duty to give it such a construction as will make it operative and consistent with [Bridgeport’s] charter.”

So the law can be used to effectuate a plan not favored by the Board of Selectmen (for example, in Sherman a board of finance), or to eliminate a plan favored by the Selectmen which is not popular among townspeople (for example in Sherman walk-ways in the town center). A petition for a Town Meeting signed by 21 people, requesting consideration and possible action to introduce a board of finance or, should it happen, to eliminate the plan for walk-ways in the town center, are the tools of the sovereign Town Meeting.

By Natalie Sirkin
c2008

Rove at Choate Rosemary Hall


The devil appeared in Wallingford last week, and some students at Choate Rosemary Hall discovered he had no tail or hooves.

Karl Rove, the Svengali of the George Bush administration, denied admission to the Choate Rosemary Hall graduation ceremony, snuck in through a back door and there was pelted with questions from the students, some of whom were anxious to catch him in an embarrassing moment.

The media was denied admittance, but an exception was made for a single Hartford Courant reporter, who filed a story that appeared a day later in the paper.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Is McCain A Conservative?

Everyone should understand that conservatives are a subset – though a very large one – of the Republican Party. There is no question that John McCain is a Republican, as are Mitt Romney, who recently withdrew from the race, and Mike Huckabee, who has yet to withdraw.

Conservatives have doubts, some supportable, some not, that McCain is a real rather than a virtual conservative.

As part of their laundry list of anti-McCain points, conservatives recall that McCain once said he might consider a spot on a national ticket with Sen. John Kerry, then running for president as a Democrat. At the time, this rightly enraged the thinking wing of the Republican Party.

Ann Coulter, may the blessings of Joe McCarthy be upon her, still has not gotten over it. In a recent column she said that she would stump for Sen. Hillary Clinton, now running for president on the Democrat ticket, should Republicans choose McCain as their nominee. Though Coulter has threatened to support a liberal Democrat for president, no one has yet suggested that she is insufficiently conservative.

People sometimes say dumb things because people sometimes say dumb things. McCain is not leaving the Republican Party, Joe Lieberman, who has leant his support to McCain, is not leaving the Democrat Party, and all’s right with the world. Lieberman is a liberal. McCain certainly would be considered by Coulter’s choice for president as a prickly Republican with dangerous conservative tendencies.

In a well received speech before Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), McCain took a swing at most of the hardballs conservatives have been pitching at him.

The center piece of the address is this line: “All I ask of any American, conservative, moderate, independent, or enlightened Democrat, is to judge my record as a whole, and accept that I am not in the habit of making promises to my country that I do not intend to keep.”

That line aroused a smattering of applause because the bulk of McCain’s address to an audience that had sometimes been fiercely critical of him was a series of promises, explicit and implicit. Should conservatives find themselves in need of a short and powerful summary of their beliefs – a brief doxology of the main points of conservativism – they could not do better than to search them out in this address, which sounds for all the world as if it had been written by an Edmund Burke, Ronald Reagan conservative.

Indeed, McCain manages to quote Burke in his address, once on the impossibility of sundering liberty and justice, and then again in this soaring passage:

“I began by assuring you that we share a conception of liberty that is the bedrock of our beliefs as conservatives. As you know, I was deprived of liberty for a time in my life, and while my love of liberty is no greater than yours, you can be confident that mine is the equal of any American's. It is a deep and unwavering love. My life experiences in service to our country inform my political judgments. They are at the core of my convictions. I am pro-life and an advocate for the Rights of Man everywhere in the world because of them, because I know that to be denied liberty is an offense to nature and nature's Creator. I will never waver in that conviction, I promise you. I know in this country our liberty will not be seized in a political revolution or by a totalitarian government. But, rather, as Burke warned, it can be ‘nibbled away, for expedience, and by parts.’”

Barack Obama, sometimes given to flights of oratory, cannot mount on these sky scraping crags. Because he is no McCain, his profile in courage background is thin.

In such beliefs as these and in his voting record in the Senate, McCain passes the duck test: If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck and swims in ponds, it must be a duck.

There will always be doubters, and in the end they may be proven right. The muddled middle is a very safe harbor for men without chests.

McCain is not one of these.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Connecticut’s Budget

Governor Rell’s new budget demonstrates that it is possible for an old dog – no slur on the governor intended – to learn some new tricks.

Her last budget, heavy on spending, caused major eruptions in her party. This one is far more modest. In leftist lingo, it is “unimaginative.”

“In her annual budget message” said Lew Andrews of The Yankee Institute for Public Policy Studies, “she promised no income tax increases and that expenditures would finally be kept in line.”

The executive director of the free market institute was not all smiles. “The Governor,” he said, “is still enamored with the idea that government bureaucrats are best equipped to pick winners and losers in private industry. Her proposal to dedicate $5.5 million to attract nanotechnology companies would, if passed, just waste taxpayers’ money. It would be far better for employment in Connecticut, if the legislature were asked to consider a broad reduction of corporate taxes and fees.”

Sometimes the old tricks kick in spontaneously. Republican governors have in the past sought to mollify their more imaginative critics by using budget surpluses to inaugurate new, expensive and counterproductive programs.

In the good old days, Republicans with spine would not have allowed surpluses on the grounds that a surplus is, by definition, the amount of money that the government has over taxed its citizens.

Democrat free spenders are loath to return surpluses to the people they have overcharged for their services for much the same reason that state commissioners are reluctant to under spend their budgets. Overspending assures that budget allocations in succeeding years will continue to mount upwards on the principle: The more you spend, the more you get. Under spending – saving money – is a self destructive exercise, which is why no governor, Republican or Democrat, has lately proposed budgets that reduce spending.

If you are a Democrat politician in a state driven by the “spend more get more” principle, there is no future in responsible budgeting. If you are a Republican politician, proposing responsible budgets that reduce spending will certainly get you in the bad graces of those in the media who are not imaginative enough to but a price tag on what they consider the “needs” of the state. It was George Will, the conservative columnist, who defined a “need” as a “want that is more than twenty four hours old.”

The Republican governor this year has proposed “keeping spending in line,” a modest proposal indeed, and one that may help to starve the beast.

However, at the mere hint of resolution, the beast will bare its teeth and shows its claws.

Both nationally and in Connecticut, Democrats this year are supporting tax rebates to “stimulate” an economy that has drifted into the doldrums. The rational supporting the rebates may be stated as follows: A laggard economy cannot produce sufficient tax revenue to support government programs. Therefore, the economy must be stimulated through a rebate program that returns tax money to people who may then spend it to revive the economy.” This rational is a grudging admission on the part of people who are largely responsible for the laggard economy that – take a big breath now – tax cuts increase government revenues by permitting people to spend money and “grow” the economy.

That principle was operative in the economy long before American conservativism was a blip on the radar screen of liberal bureaucrats and their enablers in national and state legislatures who, always and everywhere, "need" more.

Tax cuts are good because: a) they return economic decision making from the maze of self interested bureaucracies to the people, who are better able to address their own most pressing needs, b) they stimulate the economy and provide more revenue for necessary and efficient government programs and c) the liberties of a people are inversely related to the growth of government; the more free the government is to direct peoples lives, the less free will people be to shape their own futures.

That should be the message of every Republican running for office in the state of Connecticut.

Sadly, it won’t be

Dean Says Convention May Be Brokered



The possibility of a brokered Democrat convention does not please Howard Dean, the Chairman of the Democrat Party. “The idea that we can afford to have a big fight at the convention and then win the race in the next eight weeks, I think, is not a good scenario," Dean said in an interview with NY1 television.”

“I think we will have a nominee sometime in the middle of March or April. But if we don't, then we're going to have to get the candidates together and make some kind of an arrangement,” said Dean, “because I don't think we can afford to have a brokered convention -- that would not be good news for either party."

In a brokered convention, the presidential nominee would be decided on the floor of the national convention, an event that had not occurred in decades. In pre-primary days, such decisions lay in the hand of party power brokers adept at manipulating delegates. But the old boys in the smoke filled rooms have been long gone, and it is not at all certain that the party chairman has enough muscle to “persuade” delegates fiercely committed to their candidates to switch votes, especially since delegates are now committed under a primary system that does not allow for brokering.

Dean may very well say “we’re going to have to get the candidates together and make some kind of arrangement,” but in a primary dominant structure, candidates can always bolt and run on an independent ticket, taking with them their voters if not their pledged delegates.

It’s a problem Huston.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Obama in Hartford

The 17,000 person crowd was large and enthusiastic.

Sen. Edward Kennedy, in introducing Barack Obama, the apostle of change, was his usual bombastic self. Stretching out Obama’s name absurdly, he managed to sound like a cross between Elmer Gantry and a carnival barker. But the crowd was not there to see Kennedy; they came to get a glimpse of the new Democrat phenom.

The reaction to Obama, both among those who are inclined to vote for him and liberal commentators in the media, continues to be one of swooning adulation, as if Obama were a rock star rather than a politician.

Kennedy himself drew parallels between Obama and his two brothers, asking the crowd whether they would do for the politician he had introduced – OOOBAMMAAAAAAAAA -- what an early generation, taken with presidential candidate John Kennedy, had in the glory days of Camelot done for his brother.

“Will you DOOOOOOO it?”

The whipped up crown indicated they would.

Media reaction to Obama was equally enthusiastic. One Hartford Courant columnist “taken up” at the political revival meeting wrote, “The ‘unlikely journey’ of Barack Obama swirled into the city, and for a few transcendent hours, I was somewhere else, more perfect.”

It’s all getting a little overbearing. Do we really want to be swept up by political rhetoric? Do we want to retreat to the so called glory days of JFK, pull the downy myth of Camelot over our heads and fall to dreaming, when the world before us is bristling with dangers, bursting with nightmares?

Monday, February 04, 2008

The Clintons' Baptism by Uranium


Long before Roman Polansky expatriated himself to France, after having pleaded guilty in the United States to having had unlawful sexual intercourse with a thirteen year old girl, he made a short film called “Two Men and a Wardrobe” that might serve as a metaphor for our time.

The two men in the film carry with them wherever they go a cumbersome wardrobe that causes them no end of trouble. Seeing the men and the wardrobe, other people naturally try to avoid them. Such baggage, which separates the two from the common run of humanity, can only spell trouble.

The film is an allegory, and the beauty of allegories is that they sometimes mean more than one thing at the same time. If our checkered past could take form in some material object, a wardrobe would serve the purpose perfectly. The good thing about the past is that it usually lies tucked away beyond the notice of prying eyes. Occupying the realm of reason and the imagination, it is invisible most of the time, unlike the wardrobe the two men in the Polansky film must trundle around with them everywhere.

The same is not true of politicians and other public celebrities. They carry their pasts around with them, however cumbersome, where ever they go – to a press conference or to the beach.

Just before Sen. Barack Obama came to Hartford, Sen. Hillary Clinton told a rally in St. Louis that she and her husband had been seared by a baptism of fire. Her record was well known, whereas Obama’s was relatively unexamined, a point made earlier by former U.N. Ambassador Andrew Young, who noted that Obama did not have the support system commanded by the Clintons. In his remarks to Newmakers Live, Young seemed not to be anxious to throw Obama into the lion’s den.

"My opponent,” Hillary Clinton said, “hasn't had to go through that kind of baptism by fire. This is going to be open season once again, and we need to nominate someone with the experience and the fortitude and the know-how to take whatever they send our way and send it right back.”

The New York Times recently took a peak in a drawer of the Clinton’s messy bureau, and just look what popped out.

The Times reported that on Sept. 6, 2005 Clinton and a friend, Canadian mining financier Frank Giustra, paid a visit to Kazakhstan, whose ruler, Nursultan A. Nazarbayev, the paper described as a retrograde soviet leader “whose 19-year stranglehold on the country has all but quashed political dissent.”

The two were there to do business. Giustra was in hot pursuit of an exclusive deal to tap highly coveted deposits of uranium in Kazakhstan that could fuel nuclear reactors around the world. With a little help from friend Clinton, Giustra consummated the deal. The Times reported, “Within two days, corporate records show that Mr. Giustra also came up a winner when his company signed preliminary agreements giving it the right to buy into three uranium projects controlled by Kazakhstan’s state-owned uranium agency, Kazatomprom.”

The deal having been consummated, the Times reported, money began to flow from Giustra into Clinton’s charitable foundation: “Just months after the Kazakh pact was finalized, Mr. Clinton’s charitable foundation received its own windfall: a $31.3 million donation from Mr. Giustra that had remained a secret until he acknowledged it last month. The gift, combined with Mr. Giustra’s more recent and public pledge to give the William J. Clinton Foundation an additional $100 million, secured Mr. Giustra a place in Mr. Clinton’s inner circle, an exclusive club of wealthy entrepreneurs in which friendship with the former president has its privileges.”

To be sure, there is a tiny hitch to the deal, but it is nothing that the Clintons, baptized by fire, cannot overcome with a little silver tongued jaw jaw: Mrs. Clinton, running for president this year, is on record as having sharply criticized what the Times blithely calls “Kazakhstan’s poor human rights record.”

So then, Bill and his friend strike a business deal with a dictator, as a result of which the friend makes a bundle and passes along a few dollars to Bill’s charity over protestations of Bill’s wife. And the deal involves uranium that may be used in nuclear reactors.

Nice big bulging bureau there. And is it not astonishing that no one seems to have noticed the thing?

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Northeast Swings to Obama


Sen. Edward Kennedy last week draped both himself and the tattered mantle of Camelot around the neck of Sen. Barack Obama, the “future is ours” Democrat vying with Sen. Hillary Clinton for the nomination of their party for president. The gesture made it possible for usually timid North East politicians to abandon the Clinton ship and run up their Jolly Rogers.

So far in Connecticut, Reps John Larson, Rosa DeLauro and Chris Murphy have joined the Kennedy-Obama ship; hanging back in the wings, but ready to rejoice, are Sen. Chris Dodd and Rep. Joe Courtney.

Kennedy’s enthusiastic embrace has had some unfortunate repercussions. The reaction to Kennedy’s defection from the Clinton camp in the New York sector of the feminist jungle has been somewhat intemperate.

“Women have just experienced the ultimate betrayal,” the president of the National Organization for Women’s New York chapter wrote in a press release:

“Senator Kennedy’s endorsement of Hillary Clinton’s opponent in the Democratic presidential primary campaign has really hit women hard. Women have forgiven Kennedy, stuck up for him, stood by him, hushed the fact that he was late in his support of Title IX, the ERA, the Family Leave and Medical Act to name a few. Women have buried their anger that his support for the compromises in No Child Left Behind and the Medicare bogus drug benefit brought us the passage of these flawed bills. We have thanked him for his ardent support of many civil rights bills, BUT women are always waiting in the wings.

“And now the greatest betrayal! We are repaid with his abandonment! He’s picked the new guy over us. He’s joined the list of progressive white men who can’t or won’t handle the prospect of a woman president who is Hillary Clinton (they will of course say they support a woman president, just not “this” one)…

“This latest move by Kennedy, is so telling about the status of and respect for women’s rights, women’s voices, women’s equality, women’s authority and our ability – indeed, our obligation - to promote and earn and deserve and elect, unabashedly, a President that is the first woman after centuries of men who ‘know what’s best for us.’”


The reaction to the reaction of Sen. Edward Kennedy’s defection has been one of mock-shocked surprise.

“So, that's it—an endorsement of any candidate but Hillary is a betrayal of the feminist cause?” says Slate, an online magazine, noting with some bemusement, “Lots more fury follows—enough to prompt John to wonder if the name Mary Jo Obama Gets Endorsedwas in the original draft of NOW's press release."

The hubbub forced Kim Gandy. NOW’s president, to issue a clarification:
“The National Organization for Women has enormous respect and admiration for Sen. Edward Kennedy (D- Mass.). For decades Sen. Kennedy has been a friend of NOW, and a leader and fighter for women's civil and reproductive rights, and his record shows that.

“Though the National Organization for Women Political Action Committee has proudly endorsed Sen. Hillary Clinton for president, we respect Sen. Kennedy's endorsement. We continue to encourage women everywhere to express their opinions and exercise their right to vote.”

Into this maelstrom now rides Rep. Rosa DeLauro, whose husband, Stan Greenberg once was a pollster for the Clintons. Before her assent to congress, DeLauro was the director of EMILY’s List, a money raising racket for the kind of feminists in New York who deplored Kennedy’s defection. And, as if the waters were not muddy enough, Stakonovite anti-corporationist Ralph Nader is pawing the ground, anxious to enter the Democrat lists for president. It is hoped – apparently by Nader and no one else – that the consumer advocate will be able to fill a gap caused when Sen. John Edwards bowed out of the race, all of which will make it more difficult for Dodd and Courtney to come out of the shadows and show a little courage.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Nader, Just Go Away

Stakonovite anti-corporationist Ralph Nader appears to be pawing the ground, anxious to enter the Democrat lists for president. The choices have been winnowed down to two candidates: Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York and points South, and Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois. It is hoped – apparently by Nader and no one else – that the consumer advocate will be able to fill a gap caused when Sen. John Edwards bowed out of the race.