Thursday, July 31, 2008

Easy On "Legacy," and "Icon"

But this election is still about Bush and the legacy of the past eight years in significant ways” – Connecticut Local Politics.

legacy
c.1375, "body of persons sent on a mission," from O.Fr. legacie "legate's office," from M.L. legatia, from L. legatus "ambassador, envoy," noun use of pp. of legare "appoint by a last will, send as a legate" (see legate). Sense of "property left by will" appeared in Scot. c.1460.
patrimony

1340, "property of the Church," also "spiritual legacy of Christ," from O.Fr. patrimonie (12c.), from L. patrimonium "a paternal estate, inheritance," from pater (gen. patris) "father" + -monium, suffix signifying action, state, condition. Meaning "property inherited from a father or ancestors" is attested from 1377. Fig. sense of "immaterial things handed down from the past" is from 1581. A curious sense contrast to matrimony
.

It’s a little premature to talk of the “legacy” of President Bush. We have only just now fully exposed the legacy of President Teddy Roosevelt.

The current president and both presidential candidates, Republican John McCain and Democrat Barack Obama, look to the hero of San Juan Hill for inspiration, even though Mark Twain thought he was a puffed toad.

So solid a legacy as that of Abe Lincoln, thought by some to be solar center of American politics around which lesser political lights move, is still under discussion. Some historians think "Honest Abe" was a wily politician who abused the Constitution. Certainly U.S. Sen. Chris would have vigorously opposed Lincoln’s suspension of habeas corpus during the Civil War.

When people talk about a contemporary “legacy” what they really mean is the sum of current opinion about a contemporary figure. Agreed, those who fashion contemporary opinion hold Bush in disrepute. The president’s “legacy” in Iran, at the New York Times or, closer to home, at the Hartford Courant and MyLeftNutmeg, a leftist blog site, has suffered some buffeting. Bush turns out to have been a spendthrift, but he could not have run through all that cash without the aid of the U.S. Congress, which has for the past few years been controlled by spendthrift Democrats. The favorability ratings of both Bush and the Congress are at rock bottom, Congress having dipped below single digits, possibly for this reason. The war in Iraq has taken a turn for the better according to Obama, just now returned from a triumphal tour of Europe. So, cautiously we should leave legacies to the tender mercy of historians and rejoice that, while all of us are poorer, Iraq has withstood the assaults of al-Qaeda, the U.S Congress and the New York Times.

In the meantime, could we have a respite from the word “legacy?”

And might we not also use more prudently the word “icon?”

This is an icon:












This is not an icon:

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

A View From The Left: Obama’s European Trip

As seen from the left, both in the United States and in Europe, Barack Obama’s recent trip was a signal failure.



What, it may be asked, did the left expect of him?

They expected a clear repudiation of President George Bush’s war policy. But Obama is subtle, and it is too much – especially in the midst of a presidential campaign – to expect clarity of him. The left has already chosen sides: Palestinians against Israel; peace, almost at any price, against war; anti-Americanism against pro-Europeanism.

When Obama returned to the United States, American reporters reminded him that he was so warmly greeted in Europe because he was the anybody-but-Bush candidate, and Bush is loathed in Europe.

Obama went on to explain that he had been selling unity in Germany, England and France. He had been harsh on the terrorists. He was calling upon Europeans to embrace the horror, the United States, in unity, one of the reasons he was so generously endorsed by Carla Bruni’s husband, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, whose hot spot is all things American.

Obama? He's my pal," the president told Le Figaro. "Unlike my diplomatic advisers, I never believed in Hillary Clinton's chances. I always said that Obama would be nominated."

Sarkozy said an Obama victory "would validate" his strategy of reconciliation with the United States.

“Barack Obama's adventure is an adventure that rings true in the hearts and minds of Americans and Europeans.”

Obama told reporters his message was not one much of Europe wanted to hear.

The American left and their anti-Sarkozy counterparts in Europe “got it” and rejected Obama’s message almost immediately. They are convinced that were Obama to familiarize himself with real life in Palestine, he would change his view of Israel; that Muqtada al-Sadr, whose military component in Baghdad has been severely compromised, may win the Basra election; that U.S. Rep and Bush scourge Dennis Kucinich is right to press for the president’s impeachment; that Christian Zionists are targeting Iran; that Sen. Joe Lieberman is not a mench; that Obama during his tour called for more troops in Afghanistan, and you can’t win the hearts and minds of Afghans with ground troops and bombers.

That Obama may still be laboring under the influence of former President Jack Kennedy has produced a weary sigh of resignation among the European left, perfectly represented by Gore Vidal, the self expatriated American author who believes that the United States has been in a war economy ever since the administration of President Harry Truman. Americans, Vidal says, have been kept by their government in a perpetual state of fear since the end of World War II, when really, there was nothing to fear but fear itself. The Cold War against the Soviet Union was unnecessary; the war against radical Islam is unnecessary.

So the left dreams and dreams its expatriate dreams -- and never has a nightmare.

On both sides of the ideological divide, broader than the Pacific, the question is not: What has Obama said? One can detect guideposts in his messaging. The question is: Does he mean anything he says?

Even columnist Richard Cohen, who believes that Jimmy Carter was a better president than Ronald Reagan and in whom there is no stain of neo-conservativism, has his doubts: “I know that Barack Obama is a near-perfect political package. I'm still not sure, though, what's in it.”

Monday, July 28, 2008

Shays' Last Stand?


This may be the year that Connecticut bids goodbye to the last Republican U.S. Representative in New England.

It is not likely that Rep. Chris Shays will be enthusiastically supported by his Republican base, a problem presidential candidate Sen. John McCain is also facing.

According to one news report, Shays this year is offering himself as a Republican who “could work with likely Democrat presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama," and never mind that Shays is co-chairman of McCain campaign in Connecticut.

"On the issues, I work with Republicans and Democrats,” Shays has said, “If Obama's elected, he'll probably be turning to me. If he is going to do what he says and work with Republicans, I am going to be one of his natural allies that he'll turn to if he wins,” all of which is possible – if Shays wins.

There are enough “ifs” in this proposition to choke an elephant. Getting back home to Kansas from Oz is always the difficulty.

Among the items Shays regularly hands around to the media these days is a packet of research from Congressional Quarterly and the National Journal that demonstrate his independence from his besieged president.

Shays, whom some have called Lowell Weicker lite, has never found it difficult in steering a course between the Scylla of Democratic acceptance and the Charybdis of Republican rejection. Shays bills himself as a “contrarian.” Weicker, who preferred the term “maverick,” once billed himself as “the turd in the Republican Party punchbowl.”

For 33 years, Shays has defeated all opponents, some by the slenderest of margins – up till now. But in Connecticut, Obama is running much stronger than McCain; and however much Shays may wish to work with a President Obama, it is not likely that the Democrat candidate for president, newly returned from a triumphal tour of Europe, will be stumping for anyone other than Shays' opponent, the resourceful Jim Himes, a executive who shook the dust of Goldman Sachs from his feet and now helps to run a nonprofit that develops housing for the poor.

Himes is Ned Lamont lite.

Within the last few years, the Bush administration changed its strategic orientation in Iraq. The change, a word Obama uses on the campaign trail with hypnotic effect, involved a surge in troops, the rebuilding and training of Iranian forces and, most especially, a successful effort in persuading sheiks to assist in ridding the country of al-Qaeda. These changes, despite highly politicized efforts on the part of an organized Democrat Party to make president Bush lose the war in Iraq, has succeeded in moving a pacified Iraq towards a democratic government.

Prime minister Nouri al- Maliki, no less a political creature than Obama or Shays, must worry about upcoming elections. The Iraq people are nationalistic and antagonistic to foreign pressure. There is little doubt they would prefer to see American troops leave the country within the timeline set by Obama; whether al_Maliki wants a complete withdrawal of American troops within Obama's shifting guidelines is a matter of some dispute among people who admire Al Maliki's political prowess. Accomplished politicians, don't you know, do not always mean what they say or say what they mean.

Obama, so far, has been showered with good fortune and a tolerant, non-critical media. On the eve of the presidential campaign, the success of the surge, which Obama has lately acknowledged, may have made it possible for the Unites States to withdraw troops from the Iraqi war theater and recommit them to Afghanistan.

In any case, the stars appear to be aligned in Obama’s favor. He has shown himself to be something of a rock star, somewhat like a young Jack Kennedy others have said. This time around, the presidential candidate may have effective coattails, which will not bode well for Shays, whose pants on fire retreat from Bush is as helpful to him as it is embarrassing to Republicans who believe that, in the case of Iraq, every success has only helped the opposition.

How EPA Got Away With It

The Environmental Protection Agency has never said the air is safe to breathe and never will--as clean-air expert Joel Schwartz has pointed out--because the day it does, is the day it is out of a job.

EPA writes the regulations under the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 for the six pollutants—seven, the Supreme Court having just added another, carbon dioxide. Three times EPA has declared new standards, each one tougher, for ground-level ozone, first at 0.12 parts per million for one hour, then at 0.08 parts per million for eight hours, and in March at 0.075 ppm for eight hours.

This latest change, declares EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson, is “the most protective” in history from air “simply too dirty to breathe.” (EPA defines as “unhealthy” anything above its latest arbitrary standard.) Each time the standard is changed, the new standard is always the most protective in history, since it is always tighter than the standard it replaces.

EPA declares that tightening the ozone standard will prevent 1,300 to 3,500 premature deaths annually. But they have not found a single premature death that was caused by air pollution (smog) or particulate matter (soot). (Meanwhile, in China , our Olympic athletes are wearing masks to protect against Beijing ’s polluted air.)

For years, authorities have been looking—without success—at data around Los Angeles , the elephant of American ozone, for people whose chronic illness has been caused by air pollution. Acute health effects, which are interpreted to affect smell or sight, are temporary, disappearing in 24 hours or less. Sensitive people can avoid them by avoiding physical activity or remaining indoors during the few hours in hot sunny summer afternoons when the ozone level is unusually high.

But this new ozone standard requires over a hundred counties still out of compliance and hundreds more that are in compliance to recalculate their State Implementation Plans to find more ways to clamp down on emissions from autos, utilities, power plants, manufacturing facilities, and whatever. By so doing, they force states to spend billions of dollars more or forfeit their customary Federal Highway funds. Decisions on how to bring states into compliance depend on their local areas. It is they that must devise more ways, lawn mowers, barbecues, car-pooling, whatever.

The tightening of the 1996-7 ozone standard is instructive because it shows the meticulous planning Administrator Browner had to go through to get questionable standards accepted. She announced the change late one afternoon in November, 1996, just before Thanksgiving, three weeks after the reelection of President Clinton, and after 4:00 or 4:30 when the national media leave. Congress had gone home and would not be back till late January. There was nearly no one around to ask or answer questions.

Why new standards? Both ground-level ozone and particulate-matter levels had been falling for years. Over a hundred counties still had not been able to comply with the existing standards. Hundreds more would be thrown into non-compliance. There was no need for tighter standards. What justification did EPA Administrator Browner have? EPA-watcher Bonner Cohen related the absence of scientific method to the 16th annual meeting of the Doctors for Disaster Preparedness in 1998.

EPA, ignoring the law, had failed to review the PM2.5 standard after five years. EPA’s friends, the American Lung Association, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and others sued it. EPA always appreciates them for their added pressure for publicity, and it gives millions of dollars to them to maintain the public perception of fear. This lawsuit made it possible for EPA to say it had to review the standards because it was under court order.

But not quite. The order was to review PM2.5 standards, not ozone. EPA then argued that the sources for ozone were the same as for PM, so it made sense for them to review ozone at the same time.

How, when both PM and O3 were fast falling, could Mrs. Browner justify tougher standards? By premature deaths. And by children’s asthma cases, which Mrs. Browner had to know had nothing at all to do with ozone. As ozone has been decreasing over the decades, asthma cases have been increasing, both in the U.S. and in Europe .

Premature deaths a justification for tougher standards? Where are they? Who has seen them? There were nearly no data. There were 86 studies on PM2.5, but only 12 of them related PM2.5 to mortality, and only one of those related PM2.5 to premature deaths. Mrs. Browner claimed that that study, which came out of Harvard, had been “peer reviewed,” but no one including the peer-reviewers saw the underlying data. That was not permitted by author and former EPA official Mr. Schwartz, “together with two other gentlemen, Dockery and Pope.” EPA’s Mary Nichols asserted EPA had not requested the data because they weren’t necessary.

Bonner Cohen suggests a reason for the change at that particular time. In five months, the Kyoto Protocol would be coming up for its initial agreement. The same sources were common to global warming as to air pollution. As Vice President Al Gore’s protégé, Administrator Browner was offering what could be support for Gore.

If the Clean Air Amendment law is rewritten, Congress should remember a) that ground-level ozone at a certain level provides protection against ultraviolet radiation; b) that not just benefits but costs must be allowed to be considered; c) that only those risks that are unreasonable should be considered illegal.

By Natalie Sirkin
gnsirkin@aol.com
c2008

Edwards Spindives

Ugly rumors about ex-presidential candidate and former Sen. John Edwards, he of the perfect hair, that have been in the pipeline for several months are now burbling to the surface.

The rumors involve a child Edwards produced with his reputed love interest, Rielle Hunter.

Somewhere along the line, the Hounds of Heaven who toil at the National Inquirer, got wind of the affair and decided to pursue Edwards during a tryst he had arranged recently at the Beverly Hilton Hotel with Hunter and their alleged child. Edward's wife, though cancer stricken, valiantly supported him during his presidential bid. Edwards has denied the child is his.

“His secret mistress Rielle Hunter and her baby were upstairs," The Enquirer reported, "and Edwards had just spent hours with them in a secret rendezvous.

“As Butterfield and Hitchen tried to question Edwards, he ran down a hallway and ducked into a men's public bathroom. The reporters attempted to follow him in and Edwards pushed the door shut from inside.

“Hotel security showed up and intervened. The reporters charge that not only did one security guard threaten to break their camera but that security also violated several statutes of the California Penal Code, including false imprisonment and preventing a guest from entering land.

“The ENQUIRER reporters were registered guests at the hotel, while Edwards was not."

National Inquirer reporters Alan Butterfield and Alexander Hitchen have now filed a criminal complaint against the hotel.

The complaint would allow police to question Edwards concerning the tawdry event. And of course, once questioned, it would allow the newspaper to contest claims to the contrary made by Edwards.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

The surge has worked

It is one thing to re-write history, quite another to re-write the present, as some willfully blind progressives are doing who still insist that the surge has not worked. Even the New York Times, no friend to the Bush administration, knows that life has improved in Iraq – largely due to the success of the surge.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Barack the Conqueror

At the present moment -- remembering that there is nothing more changeable than a moment -- Hanna Strange reports from Timesonline, these are the positions of Sen. Barack Obama on the war in Iraq:

September 12 2007

"We should enter into talks with the Iraqi government to discuss the process of our drawdown. We must get out strategically and carefully, removing troops from secure areas first, and keeping troops in more volatile areas until later. But our drawdown should proceed at a steady pace of one or two brigades each month. If we start now, all of our combat brigades should be out of Iraq by the end of next year.

"We will need to retain some forces in Iraq and the region. We'll continue to strike at al Qaeda in Iraq. We'll protect our forces as they leave, and we will continue to protect U.S. diplomats and facilities. If - but only if - Iraq makes political progress and their security forces are not sectarian, we should continue to train and equip those forces."


September 26 2007, NBC/MSNBC debate in New Hampshire


"If there are still large troop presences in when I take office, then the first thing I will do is call together the Joint Chiefs of Staff and initiate a phased redeployment. We've got to be as careful getting out as we were careless getting in. But military personnel indicate we can get one brigade to two brigades out per month.

"I would immediately begin that process. We would get combat troops out of Iraq. The only troops that would remain would be those that have to protect U.S. bases and U.S. civilians, as well as to engage in counterterrorism activities in Iraq. ... I believe that we should have all our troops out by 2013, but I don't want to make promises not knowing what the situation's going to be three or four years out. "

January 31 2007, CNN debate in Los Angeles

"It is important for us to be as careful getting out as we were careless getting in. I will end this war. We will not have a permanent occupation and permanent bases in Iraq. ... It is important for us to set a date. Because if we are going to send a signal to the Iraqis that we are serious, and prompt the Shia, Sunni, & Kurds to actually come together & negotiate, they have to have clarity about how serious we are."

"... We've got to be very clear about what our mission is. We would make sure that our embassies & our civilians are protected; that we've got to care for Iraqi civilians, including the four million displaced already. We already have a humanitarian crisis, and we have not taken those responsibilities seriously. We need a strike force that can take out potential terrorist bases that get set up in Iraq."

July 3 2008, Fargo, North Dakota

"I have always said I would listen to commanders on the ground. I have always said the pace of withdrawal would be dictated by the safety and security of our troops and the need to maintain stability. That assessment has not changed and when I go to Iraq and I have a chance to talk to some of the commanders on the ground, I’m sure I’ll have more information and will continue to refine my policies."

Later that same day

"Apparently I wasn’t clear enough this morning on my position with respect to the war in Iraq. I have said throughout this campaign that this war was ill conceived, that it was a strategic blunder and that it needs to come to an end. I’ve also said that I will be deliberate and careful in how we got out, that I would bring our troops home in the pace of one to two brigades per month and that that pace we would have our combat troops out in 16 months. That position has not changed.

"... So we are going to go visit Iraq, I want to have conversations with commanders on the ground, Iraqi officials. When I come back, that information will obviously inform how we shape our plans moving forward. For example, does it - what is the current training situation and how many residual troops might be needed in order to train Iraqis to stand up both the army and the police?"

July 15 2008

"I will give our military a new mission on my first day in office: ending this war. Let me be clear: we must be as careful getting out of Iraq as we were careless getting in. We can safely redeploy our combat brigades at a pace that would remove them in 16 months. That would be the summer of 2010 – one year after Iraqi Security Forces will be prepared to stand up; two years from now, and more than seven years after the war began. After this redeployment, we’ll keep a residual force to perform specific missions in Iraq: targeting any remnants of al Qaeda; protecting our service members and diplomats; and training and supporting Iraq’s Security Forces, so long as the Iraqis make political progress.

"We will make tactical adjustments as we implement this strategy – that is what any responsible Commander-in-Chief must do. As I have consistently said, I will consult with commanders on the ground and the Iraqi government. We will redeploy from secure areas first and volatile areas later."

As the moment passes, Obama will begin to sound more and more like John McCain, if not President George Bush, the Teddy Roosevelt of the 21st century.

Further modifications (revisions) in Obama’s views may in the offing after he returns from Europe where, standing at the Victory Column in Tiergarten Park
Berlin, a monument that celebrates Prussian prowess in war, he complimented the Germans on their steadfastness at a time when they were hopelessly besieged.

Obama quoted the Mayor of Berlin: "There is only one possibility. For us to stand together united until this battle is won...The people of Berlin have spoken. We have done our duty, and we will keep on doing our duty.”

Obama added “People of the world: now do your duty...People of the world, look at Berlin!"

On the eve of his trip, one friendly newspaper warned the congressman to beware the pitfalls of hubris. Alas, hubris in Washington DC is as plentiful as cherry blossoms in March or erotimaniacal legislators.

Modestly, Obama claimed no part in bringing down the infamous Berlin Wall.

Update, July 28: The spin doctors in and out of the Obama campaign have a new tune to pipe; they are now insisting that McCain, and of course Bush, have adapted their positions to conform to his master plan. And of course, whatever is at the moment is Obama's master plan.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

On Fannie, Freddie, Saints and Sinners

There are some saints among the sinners in the Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac shakedown of the U.S. Congress.

One of the saints is the Wall Street Journal, which for years has inveighed against the dangers involved when private profit is yoked with governmental power.

In a recent column, Paul Gigot, the Editorial Page Editor of the paper, puts it this way:

“The abiding lesson here is what happens when you combine private profit with government power. You create political monsters that are protected both by journalists on the left and pseudo-capitalists on Wall Street, by liberal Democrats and country-club Republicans. Even now, after all of their dishonesty and failure, Fannie and Freddie could emerge from this taxpayer rescue more powerful than ever. Campaigning to spare taxpayers from that result would represent genuine 'change,' not that either presidential candidate seems interested."


The WSJ does not hesitate to name the sinners. Here is a rundown of previous postings by the Journal warning of the dangers of what one of my acquaintances in the business world calls “fascism lite.”

Among the sinners are U.S. senators Charles Shumer, Barney Frank (truly a citizen of the world) and former presidential candidate Chris Dodd.

In its current form the legislation passing through the congressional sausage machine is deeply flawed. It would, according to the Journal "give a new regulator the power to fire managers and put the companies into receivership in certain circumstances. At a minimum, however, the regulator should be given an explicit command to run down their portfolios of MBSs (mortgage backed securities) that have made them such risky monsters. And as the credit markets calm down, the regulator needs to limit their business so private-label mortgage securitization takes a greater role in the market and less risk is concentrated in two giant firms. Mr. Paulson should also support Senator Jim DeMint's proposal to bar the companies from the lobbying and campaign contributions that have allowed them to buy political immunity all these years."

Having passed the House, the bail-out bill now is headed towards the Senate, where Dodd will steer the flawed bill through and send it along to President George Bush, who has indicated he will sign it.

This is a president who has never feared to use the power of the purse to beggar the country. Yet all the fiery tongues that previously have questioned the president’s wisdom in financing a war in Iraq they said could not be won have strangely fallen silent now that he has promised to make whole a federal monopoly that, no attempt at hyperbole here, has thrown money into a black hole.

Teddy Roosevelt, one of the presidential saints of the two Republican and Democrat candidates now vying for dispenser-in-chief position in Washington and the first progressive, was wafted into office on a promise – which he kept – that as president he would bust up the trusts and monopolies that had a lock on the wallets of hard working, taxpaying citizens.

Since his time, it has become the business of Chris Dodd, the chairman of the Banking Committee, to bail out monopolists and federally created trusts Fannie and Freddie when their federally supported businesses go under.

The times have changed but not all change is good, and none of this change is progressive.

The Centering of Obama

Sen. Barack Obama’s move to the right, after having dished Sen. Hillary Clinton in the Democrat presidential primary, has been variously described as traitorous by hot headed bloggers on the left and refinements by the senator’s apologists in the mainstream media.

Markos Moulitsas of the Daily Kos website, marching orders central for leftist bloggers, is having second thoughts: “There is a line between 'moving to the center' and stabbing your allies in the back out of fear of being criticized. And, of late, he's been doing a lot of unnecessary stabbing, betraying his claims of being a new kind of politician. Not that I ever bought it, but Obama is now clearly not looking much different than every other Democratic politician who has ever turned his or her back on the base in order to prove centrist bona fides."

Columnist Donald Lambro recently caught Obama in mid-pirouette on the question of the Iraq war when he cited an article written for the July/August issue of Foreign Affairs by Colin Kahl, assistant professor in the Security Studies Program at the Georgetown School of Foreign Service and chief coordinator of Obama's working group on Iraq policy, that contained this teaser: “ Rather than unilaterally and unconditionally withdrawing from Iraq and hoping the international community will fill the void and push the Iraqis toward accommodation -- a very unlikely scenario -- the United States must embrace a policy of 'conditional engagement… This approach would couple a phased redeployment of combat forces with a commitment to providing residual support for the Iraqi government if and only if it moves toward genuine reconciliation.”

Kahl later denied that in his remarks he was speaking for the Obama campaign.

“In his New York Times column,” Lambro writes, “Obama says nothing about the size of the ‘residual’ military force he would leave in Iraq for the short term. His liberal base is already grumbling about signals that he is softening the pace of his withdrawal, which he says would be made in consultation with the U.S. military commanders on the ground and Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki. But in an op-ed filled with contradictions, Obama grudgingly concedes the military surge he opposed -- and predicted would fail -- has worked. Still, he persists in his intention to pull out under a 16-month timetable in the midst of winning the war."

A Piddling $25 Billion

The Associated Press is reporting that a bailout of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, federally supported mortgage lenders, could cost taxpayers $25 billion.

“’This is like two months in Iraq for something that involves, literally, market stability and (calms) global jitters,’ said Sen. Christopher J. Dodd, D-Conn., the Banking Committee chairman. Dodd said he hoped the legislation would clear Congress by the end of the week.”

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Dodd and the Moonlit Mackerel


He is a man of splendid abilities, but utterly corrupt. He shines and stinks like rotten mackerel by moonlight -- Senator John Randolph of Virginia, commenting on fellow lawmaker Edward Livingston.

In a follow-up to its explosive story on Countrywide, the nation’s now defunct largest mortgage lender whose president Angelo Mozilo had greased the palms of shakers and movers in Congress such as U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd, the chairman of the senate’s powerful banking committee, Portfolio, a Conte Nast publication, now gives us the honorable Richard Aldrich, a California state appeals court justice.

As was the case with Dodd, Aldrich also was favored by Mozilo’s chief agent, loan officer Robert Feinberg, who was put in charge of the now notorious “Friends of Angelo” VIP program.

Refinancing his 8,200-square-foot house adjacent to a Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course at the Sherwood Country Club in Westlake Village, Aldrich turned to fellow member Mozilo, who through Feinberg approved the $1 million loan and a $900,000 line of credit for the judge.

When advised by Feinberg that the credit line was “above what guidelines allow,” Mozilo instructed Fienberg, “Go ahead and approve the loan, and close it as soon as possible. Don’t worry about this deal, it’s golden.”

Disillusioned with the loan program, Feinberg bolted Countrywide in 2007 and agreed to spill the beans to Portfolio.

The author of the second Portfolio expose, Dan Golden, notes, “That wasn’t Aldrich’s only contact with Countrywide. At the time he refinanced, a class action lawsuit against Countrywide was pending before the appellate court, brought by borrowers contending that the company offered an inadequate payment to settle allegations that it charged excessive fees for credit reports. That August, Aldrich was part of a three-judge panel that unanimously rejected the borrowers’ appeal.”

The reporter reached the judge by phone, but Aldridge “denied receiving a below-market loan and hung up.”

Perhaps he had a golf date.

According to Portfolio, recipients of Mozilo’s favors, other than Dodd were: Sen. Kent Conrad, who previously turned over his ill gotten gains to charities, “… former cabinet members Alphonso Jackson and Donna Shalala, and former United Nations Ambassador Richard Holbrooke… James Johnson and Franklin Raines, both former C.E.O.’s of government-sponsored mortgage buyer Fannie Mae… former Countrywide director Henry Cisneros, who served as secretary of Housing and Urban Development in the Clinton administration; former White House staffer Paul Begala, now a commentator on CNN; and Postmaster General John Potter. Countrywide also offered special discounts to Congressional staffers involved in housing issues.”

The scandal has loosed multiple probes upon Washington D.C., some of which will be more effective than others. Dodd’s loans from Countrywide are due to be examined by the Senate Ethics Committee; the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is being urged to investigate by two Republican members; Senators Barbara Boxer and John Cornyn have offered amendments that would require members of that august body to provide detailed information concerning their mortgages.

Dodd already has been scarred by the scandal. It did not help that Dodd came under scrutiny just as he was preparing a relief package for many of the frauds and slackers who, one hopes, soon may be on their way to jail. The FBI has yet to begin poking around in Dodd’s closet for skeletons, and Connecticut’s press, perhaps exhausted from the Governor John Rowland scandal, has shown itself to be ingloriously incurious.

“Fallout from the controversy has been swift and promises to spread,” Aldridge assured the readers of Portfolio. “As Dodd shepherded a sweeping housing-reform package through Congress, his credibility was damaged, with newspaper editorials questioning whether his personal ties to Countrywide colored provisions giving relief to lenders… As housing values drop and foreclosures multiply, the Countrywide V.I.P. program has emerged as the latest business scandal to fuel a sense that insiders benefited disproportionately from the housing frenzy—and everyday consumers are paying the price.”

Feinberg, the repentant aide to Mozilo now singing to reporters, already has batted down some of Dodd’s representations.

Along with several other recipients of Countrywide’s largess, Dodd claimed he did not realize he was receiving preferential treatment from Countrywide. But Feinberg disclosed to Portfolio that he told the V.I.P.’s their fees were waived and in addition assured them they were getting the Friends of Angelo discount. He also said that he or other employees almost always apprised borrowers that they would receive a free float down to a lower rate, surrendering the usual half a point charge.

The limited coverage the scandal has received in Connecticut suggests that Friends of Dodd may already have tucked the moonlit mackerel under their beds.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Why Clinton Lost

The autopsies on Sen. Hillary Clintons’s failed presidential bid are now coming in. Frank Luntz of Luntz Maslansky Strategic Research in Washington D.C., characterizes it as “the worst campaign ever. It was a disgrace."

Leading Sen. Barcak Obama by 22 points on the same day as the Iowa caucuses, Clinton blew it.

Her “arrogance” and “viciousness,” Lutz said, got the best of her.

John McCaslin reports in Townhall.com that Lutntz’s consulting firm “examined the speech patterns of both Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama during the primary campaigning and determined the Illinois senator and now-presumptive Democratic presidential nominee issued a negative attack or statement almost every three minutes.

"Mrs. Clinton, on the other hand, issued an attack ‘every 50 seconds.'"

Sunday, July 20, 2008

About Those Loans Senator

US Sen. Chris Dodd, Kevin Rennie finds, is still dodging on his loans: “I took the Dodd challenge, and the senator won't like the result. Several days after news broke last month that Sen. Christopher J. Dodd and his wife received significantly reduced interest rates on more than $800,000 in mortgages from Countrywide Financial, Dodd taunted reporters to look at the rates. He claimed he got a deal available to any other borrower. He was wrong.”

The average rates at the time Dodd secured is jumbo loan from Countrywide was about 5 percent; the Dodds got a 4.5 percent loan from the troubled lender. “The 2003 loan on his D.C. property, purchased a few years before from his old friend, Rep. Rosa DeLauro, was for $506,000. That's a jumbo,' more than the maximum of a conventional loan, and records on those interest rates aren't widely available.”

“The chairman of the Senate Banking Committee could get the information if he thought it would confirm his loud claim that it's outrageous to think he got special treatment from Countrywide,” Rennie noted. “Though he said he'd release documents associated with the transactions to the public ‘at some point,’ Dodd continues to refuse to let his constituents see the secret details of two deals that will save him more than $70,000 over the life of the loans.”

At least one reader of the Courant tendered kudos to Rennie but wondered why the story had not been vigorously pursued by the paper.

UNCLE SAM IS BACK from North Oxford, MA wrote: “Kevin, thank you. Someone at the H.C. investigated this. QUESTION this is the hottest story around why would YOUR paper not investigate this? It has everything local and fed angles, huge bailout of the banks PLUS the angle that Milt mentioned that Fannie and Freddie have since 1989 made Sen. Dodd their NUMBER ONE contributor of campaign funds! AND NO STORY FORM (SIC) COLIN M. AND THE REST OF THE PAPER. WHY?”

Sadly true; the meager posts on Dodd’s receipt of favors from the financial industry he oversees as the powerful chairman of the banking committee do not compare to the avalanche of investigative reports and the celestial downpour of commentary and tis-tissing that swamped the Rowland administration after reporters had discovered the former governor had a hot-tub installed at his lakeside cabin by his favorite contractor. Compared to the funding Dodd has received from the financial community he regulates and the taxpayer money he is prepared to send off to the pecculators to bail them out of their idiocies, Rowland’s affair involved chump change.

But all this has left the reporting community yawning and snoring. And they wonder way no one reads their propaganda. Sad, very sad.

The absence of stories and commentary in the paper suggests that the story already has been sent to the morgue. It's enough to make you want to spank Fanny Mae's fanny -- and Dodd's too.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Oops!

A video that explores Sen. Barack Obama's "refinements" of his position(s) on the largely successful Iraq War, out just in time for his expected trip to the Middle East.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The New Yorker Story

While barrels of ink have been spilled over the New Yorker cover, not much has been said about the story that appeared in the magazine.

From the point of view of the publisher, the cover was a clever device. It certainly produced a good amount of controversy. If you are a magazine, it’s always better to be noticed, and the cover was the equivalent of a bared breast.

Cartoons of this kind always carry a mixed message. The partisans on the right were not unpleased, and for those on the left, the cover made their point: that much of the criticism issuing from the fever swamps on the right was silly, cartoonish. Michelle Obama is not, as pictured, a bomb throwing 60’s radical; Sen. Barack Obama is not a practicing Muslim but a Christian politician. Even Fox News, generally held up by the left as the simulacrum of right wingnut politics, acknowledged that this kind of criticism was unfair.

The real problem with the cover was that it detracted from a fair and fulsome account of Sen. Barack Obama’s early years as a neophyte politician in Chicago. Not as many people who reacted to the cover also commented on the story. The lad did pretty well by himself. One should understand that being a freshman politician in Chicago is a little bit like being Jonah in the whale; that Obama survived to tell the tale at all tells us a great deal about his character and political acumen.

And what is his character?

It’s that of a Chicago politician. On a scale of 1 to 10, he’s Machiavelli.

And his political ability?

Obama is to politics what jazz is to music, pretty much all improvisation. Jazz musicians make up the notes as they go along. Obama’s character is a little bit like a moving stream. There is a sameness about it, but the stream itself, always forward moving, is never the same in the same spot.

Obama has a talent, enviable in a politician, for leaving people and things behind in his wake. When he tossed overboard the Rev. Wright, he may have surprised some journalists. But Wright was not surprised. He explained, with a bemused smile, that Barack was a politician first, and everything else second. Trinity church was for Obama a stepping stone to bigger and better things. But don’t believe Wright. Ask Toni Preckwinkle, Obama’s alderman, his mentor and the person who gave Obama his start in Chicago politics.

“I think he was very strategic in his choice of friends and mentors,” she told the author of “How Chicago shaped Obama,” Ryan Lizza, “I spent ten years of my adult life working to be alderman. I finally got elected. This is a job I love. And I’m perfectly happy with it. I’m not sure that’s the way that he approached his public life—that he was going to try for a job and stay there for one period of time. In retrospect, I think he saw the positions he held as stepping stones to other things and therefore approached his public life differently than other people might have.”

It is striking how insubstantial Obama’s personal political relationships are; this is essentially Jesse Jackson’s compliant. To a certain extent all political relationships are written in the air, but the refrain one hears when Obama’s old cast-off friends get together to exchange war stories is how disloyal he is, sometimes a mark of someone who is making up his personality as he goes along.

There is a ruthlessness about all this that is masked by Obama’s outward appearance. No one can say for certain – it is doubtful Obama could say for certain – where the fictional Obama, the protagonist of his books, ends and the real Obama begins. His character is chimerical by choice. One thing is certain: If Obama has a character deficiency, it will be our deficiency when he becomes president, as seems likely.

All this may matter or not, but no one should doubt that we have entered a stage in history in which slight errors, especially in foreign policy, will give birth to awesome consequences?

Obama’s Site "Refinements"

This just in, from the neo-cons at the Associated Press.

On the question of the war in Iraq, the changes on Obama’s official site include the following:

An updated Obama quote at the top of the page. The previous quote stressed how Obama had the judgment to oppose the "rash war" from the start. This was a popular message among Democratic voters and was meant to draw distinctions with primary rival Hillary Rodham Clinton, who initially supported the war. The new quote focuses on how ending the war will make Americans safer — a message aimed at general election voters who are more likely to trust McCain on issues of national security, according to polling.

• A description of Obama's plan as "a responsible, phased withdrawal" that will be directed by military commanders and done in consultation with the Iraqis. Previously, the site had a sentence that has since been removed that flatly said, "Obama will immediately begin to remove our troops from Iraq." Morigi said that his plan hasn't changed, but they wanted to expand the description. "There's not an intent to shift language," she said.

• A new sentence that says Obama "would reserve the right to intervene militarily, with our international partners, to suppress potential genocidal violence within Iraq."

Only one of his plan's subheads remains unchanged, the first one — "Judgment You Can Trust." That's a message the campaign wants Americans to embrace.

Dodd and the Monopolists


The senator from Connecticut is the best friend monopolists ever had.

Among all the piffle and patter concerning the housing crisis, it has not been sufficiently noticed that this is a “made in Washington” fiasco.

Fanny Mae and Freddy Mac, both teetering on the edge of bankruptcy, are quasi- governments creatures -- federal monopolies, in fact – that pushed the envelope on awarding housing loans to people who could not support them because they knew taxpayers would pick up the tab when they engaged in risky and possibly criminal lending practices that Dodd's children would scorn, if they were grown-up like their Daddy.

This is not a point one expects to be discussed at length by Connecticut senator Chris Dodd during any of his senatorial inquisitions as the banker’s banker-in-chief in Washington.

Perhaps The New Yorker could develop a suitable cartoon showing the connections between bought and paid congresspersons and infinitely stupid bankers for its next cover.

Fanny and Freddy were able to drive other responsible home lenders from the market, assuring a virtual monopoly in home lending for themselves, because no other lender was given preferment’s from wall-eyed congressmen like Dodd.

These are the same people who want to manage wars and the nation’s health insurance.

Since a tax payer’s bailout of idiot bankers appears to be a virtual certainty, why not withdraw those preferments from Fanny and Freddy in the future and open the process to real, responsible lenders?

Dodd and other pocketed senators in the legislature should think about it. The solution to a corrupt monopoly is to break up the monopoly.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The New Yorker Cartoon

The New Yorker cartoon – on the front page of the magazine, no less – is a monument to tasteless commentary. But there is a difficulty in protesting it.

The idea seems to be to satirize stupid commentary on Sen. Barack Obama. The cartoon shows him in Islamic garb: Take that all you people who suppose that Obama is a Muslim, rather than a practicing Christian. His lovely wife Michelle is dressed as a 60’s radical, wearing an afro and carrying a Kalashnikov rifle: Take that all you bottom feeders who have suggested that Michelle lacked pride in her country, and so on… and on. An American flag is shown burning in the fireplace, a slam on opinion from the right that Obama’s failure to wear a flag pin signals an absence of patriotism.

Now, all this is not funny. Satire is not supposed to be funny, especially for those who “don’t get it.” And, judging from much of the commentary surrounding the New Yorker’s tasteless cover art, the great unwashed American – who is not a subscriber to the New Yorker – decidedly does not get it.

Satirically speaking, we should all be grateful that we live in a flag pin wearing country in which political cartoons to not precipitate the burning down of embassy buildings, where pop stars like Madonna are not stoned when they desecrate religious crosses in their videos, where “artist” who plunge religious crosses in vials of urine during their “art shows” are permitted to ply their craft unmolested by offended Christians.

The great blab battle just now is between conservatives and progressives on the question of who is more offensive. Most of the points ticked off in the cartoon were ventilated in the Democrat primary season, and conservatives did not have a dog in that fight. As always, Rush Limbaugh, the conservative cop who launched "operation chaos" to prolong the primary fisticuffs between Obama and Sen. Hillary Clinton, is an exception.

"Anyone who's tried to paint Obama as a Muslim, anyone who's tried to portray Michelle as angry or a secret revolutionary out to get Whitey, anyone who has questioned their patriotism,” huffed the Huffington Post, “ -- well, here's your image."

The conservatives say that progressives launched these offensive caricatures of Obama’s positions from their blog sites in order to get conservatives to cop to bias and defamation of character. Conservatives respond that their commentary has observed the proprieties – and what are they supposed to do anyway: hide Bill Ayres and the Black Power rantings of Obama’s former preacher behind the flower pot? Most of the commentary from the right has proceeded within the acceptable limits of political discourse. And for every idiot on the Right who thinks Michelle has a Kalashnikov in her closet, there are ranters and ravers on the Left, like Jane Hamsher of FireDogLake who delight in running pictures showing the august Sen. Lieberman in blackface. So there!

The difficulty in protesting all this is that everyone must stop at protestation. The First Amendment – Is there a pin? – is still the law of the land. Crass stupidity in this the home of the brave and the land of the free is grudgingly allowed, even on the front page of the New Yorker, whose entire staff this year will be voting for Obama ( a little satirizing there).

But let's make sure, as this whole discussion tumbles into absurdity, that those who in the past have thrown stones are disarmed when the call goes out, as it will, to be a little more civil. The Hamsherites , at least morally, have surrendered their place in the discussion.

PATRIOTISM, DOES IT MATTER?

You can go to live in Turkey but you can’t become a Turk. You can’t go to live in Japan and become Japanese. But . . . anyone from any corner of the world can come to America and be an American.” -- Ronald Reagan

Americanism is a matter of the mind and heart; Americanism is not, and never was, a matter of race and ancestry. A good American is one who is loyal to this country and to our creed of liberty and democracy.” -- Franklin D. Roosevelt

In 1776, we declared ourselves independent and committed ourselves to certain principles and ideals. Our ideals, set forth in the Declaration of Independence, implemented in the Constitution, go back to the Magna Carta, common law, Athenian democracy, and the Hebrew covenant.

What does it mean to be an American? Opportunity , reward for hard work, respect for talent, entrepreneurship, leader in productivity, respect for education; the chance to get ahead, to name a few characteristics.

What makes us a nation is our heritage, but we are losing it. We are losing our American memory. The most recent report card of the National Association of Education Progress, NAEP, gives examples of ignorance of history: Only 14% of high-school seniors are at or above proficient (meaning barely above basic), and 53% are below basic. Among graduating seniors at universities, only one-third knows that the Battle of the Bulge was in WWII.

In colleges, ethnic groups ask for separate graduation exercises, separate housing, and separate freshman orientations. Those arrangements divide America . The more groups separate, the looser becomes our national identity.

Patriotism has become a forbidden word. When it comes up, the goal is usually to find ways to guard against its dangers, Thomas Sowell points out. Intellectuals particularly in academia have replaced patriotism with internationalism.

In France , teachers forgot the victory of Verdun in WWI and replaced victory with pacifism and internationalism. In WWII, the French surrendered to the Nazis after only six weeks of fighting. French teachers and textbooks were more important than French tanks in defeat, the French teachers’ union was told. Today, we are in danger of following the French pattern.

John McWhorter: “Campuses are precisely where many black students learn a new separatist conception of being ‘black’ that they didn’t have.” According to a 2001 study, immigrant children after four years in an American high school consider themselves less American than when they started.

We still have no national language. Last week Barack Obama, addressing LULAC, a Latino conference, said we should speak Spanish.

John Adams: “Children should be instructed in the principles of freedom.” In the19th and 20th centuries, the principles of freedom were the civic mission of the schools. No longer. Some schools from elementary through college are teaching pacifism and internationalism.

The history of the founding of the nation has been pushed out of high school into lower grades. Most 8th graders do not know the purpose of the Declaration of Independence . “Almost completely missing is the story of the origins of American liberty and equality,” reflects historian Sheldon Stern. In the age group 18-34, 55% believe the Constitution should not trump international law when there is a conflict. In college, American history “is not trendy enough for most professors,” says Professor Harry Lewis, former dean of Harvard College . American history is not a required course in college.

The history being taught is a history of this group or that, not of the nation as a whole. The U.S. is no longer “we the people.” It has become “we the peoples.” It is taught with emphasis on its failings, as if the aim were to make students ashamed of their country instead of committed to its ideals.”
A century ago, immigrants learned the language. “ America ’s genius has always been assimilation, taking immigrants & turning them into Americans,” writes Charles Krauthammer. A new point of view prevails. It sanctions dual citizenship and multilingual ballots. New immigrants are placing their loyalties above their allegiance “to the flag and the republic for which it stands.”

Even so, what unites us is greater than what divides us. A survey finds 84% still believe in a unique American identity; 63% believe it is weakening; and 24% believe we are so divided that national identity is impossible. (It will be worse in a generation when today’s young people, on whom knowledge of our continued national identity depends, take our place.)

Colleges and universities ban ROTC from the campus. At Harvard, President Lawrence Summers has brought it back. “We may wish that it were otherwise, but in this world—at this time—we are free because we are strong. And we must be grateful to those who support the strength of our country, the men and women of the U.S. military,” said Summers at the recommissioning ceremony of the ROTC.

We should reject global citizenship, which undermines civic education We should return to Washington’s and Lincoln’s birthdays from Presidents’ Day. There should be a Presidential Award for American Citizenship, for demonstrating “exemplary understanding of and commitment to American ideals. These are the recommendation of the Bradley Project on America ’s National Identity, which has published a 50-paged brochure on it.

Roger Wilkins: “…there is also something incredibly right here. This isn’t the country that Washington and Adams and Jefferson and Madison and Hamilton and Franklin founded. . . . It is so much better . . . largely because of the civic idealism and structure of national ideals,” observed this civil rights leader.

By Natalie Sirkin
c2008

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Cibes Rises


Many of the young people who read Bill Cibes' op-ed column in the Hartford Courant, “In Case Of Rain, Break Open: State Fund Meant For Tough Times,” may well be asking themselves “Cibes who?”

The op-ed piece was attributed to two authors. Cibes is identified in the by-line as the former “secretary of the state Office of Policy and Management” and “a member of the board of the Connecticut Association for Human Services.” His co-author, Elizabeth McNichol, is “a senior fellow with the State Fiscal Project of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities in Washington, which focuses on fiscal policy and public programs that affect low- and moderate-income families and individuals.”

Cibes is so much larger than his titles suggest. Before he was chosen by former Governor Lowell Weicker to head the Office of Policy Management, Cibes was a candidate for governor. His primary campaign program had but one serious plank – the state needs an income tax – and he was beaten with the plank in the primary election by an enlightened citizenry, a mob of anti-income tax Democrats who thought, rightly as it turned out, that an income tax would be a license to spend money at a time when legislators should have been making efforts to trim the budget.

Running as an independent against Cibes, Republican gubernatorial nominee John Rowland and Democrat nominee Bruce Morrison, both of whom rejected an income tax, Weicker pulled a Weicker: He strongly suggested during the campaign that he would not resort to an income tax to discharge a mounting deficit – instituting an income tax, Weicker said, “would be like pouring gas on a fire” – and then, after having won office in a three man race, Weicker brought Cibes into his administration as his budget chief.

The rest is, as the mourners say, history.

Most of the media in the state that had followed Weicker’s senatorial career with panting breath also favored an income tax, the Courant’s editorial board and its chief political writer, Charlie Morse – who later joined the Weicker administration – among them. Weicker cannoodled some Republican legislators into voting for the tax that doomed Cibes’ gubernatorial run, and before you could say “Why don’t we double spending in the next ten years,” the deed was done.

When Weicker left office, later shaking the dust of Connecticut from his feet, he prepared a downey fall for Cibes, who became the first chancellor of the state’s four state colleges, a position created at the tail end of the Weicker administration by a no doubt grateful governor.

Weicker once joked that his Lieutenant Governor, Eunice Groark, was the mother of the state income tax. By the tax was a bastard whose parentage is still in dispute. Some say Cibes is the daddy; others say Weicker is the daddy.

After retiring from his featherbedded job as chancellor of Connecticut’s state university system, Cibes is back in the fray.

And what does he want now?

Can anyone guess?

Cibes wants money – not for himself, it is understood; he got that from Weicker. Cibes wants the state to dip into its rainy day fund to pay off the tide of red ink in future budget’s that the income tax was designed to stem.

“By tapping this fund,” Cibes advises, “states can minimize the need to raise taxes or cut back on services such as health care or education to deal with temporary budget problems created by unforeseen events.”

Cibes wants to use the little cash still left in the till to “invest” in job development and – big surprise here – education.

Funny how the spending serpent, biting its own tail, circles in upon itself: We spent a lot of money, and so we needed an income tax; then we got an income tax; then we spent more money; and now we need to plunder the state’s rainy day fund which, Cibes and McNichol tells us, was designed expressly to sop up red ink.

Young people – many of whom had already got the message and left the state – must be asking themselves “Where will it all end?”

And the honest answer is -- in the poor house, may Cibes’ blessings be upon it.

What Goes Up And Never Comes Down?

State employee salaries, according to Paul Hughes of the Waterbury Republican American: “The legislature is supposed to approve or reject contracts and awards, but the full House and Senate generally don't even vote on them…

“Democrats contend the trend reflects the deference due negotiated agreements and the decisions of neutral arbitrators in contract disputes.”

Senate Majority Martin M. Looney, D-New Haven explains why: "In my own view, there is a strong presumption in favor of sustaining an arbitration award or a contract based on respect for the collective bargaining process.”

Best lede of the year award

The "Best Lede of the Year Award" goes to Jon Lender of the Courant: “For two years, the Department of Children and Families has operated under a bizarre governmental quirk: Its compliance with a federal court order has been policed by an official fired by the DCF in 2006 for having sex in the 1980s with a woman he met as a social worker.”

Presidential Race Even Steven

According to the most recent Rasmussen Poll, the presidential race has evened out: “Obama holds a statistically insignificant 47% to 46% advantage.”

Previous to this poll, Obama had been leading McCain by about 7 points.

The favorable verses unfavorable ratings have changed: “McCain is now viewed favorably by 56% of voters, Obama by 54%. Obama receives unfavorable reviews from 44% of voters while McCain is viewed unfavorably by 41%. McCain earns favorable ratings from 32% of Democrats while Obama is viewed favorably by 22% of Republicans. Among unaffiliated voters, McCain is viewed favorably by 58%, Obama by 54%.”

The poll mentions as a matter of interest that “55% of Democrats have a Very Favorable opinion of Obama while just 33% of Republicans are that enthusiastic about their nominee. However, 86% of Republicans have at least a somewhat favorable opinion of McCain while only 80% of Democrats have such an opinion of Obama. Other key stats on the race can be found at Obama-McCain: By the Numbers.”

These last numbers indicate that McCain has some work to do shoring up support within his party. The high number of Republican who have a “somewhat favorable opinion of McCain” is a measure of a disposition to vote in favor of the candidate.

The candidates have yet to face each other in debates, so all the polls are merely indicative at this point.

McCain has proposed a number of Lincoln/Douglass-like debates in which the candidates would travel the country engaging in face-to-face encounters, but the Obama camp prefers the race to be filtered through the media, which so far has reported mostly on speeches, press opportunities, blog chatter and ads.

Speeches to mass gatherings so far has served Obama well.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Blumie Backs Dodd for VP

Connecticut’s Attorney General Richard Blumenthal backed Sen. Hillary Clinton for president, not his “good friend” U.S. Senator Chris Dodd.

However, Blumenthal is backing Dodd as a Vice Presidential candidate in the Barack Obama administration, should Obama succeed in defeating likely Republican nominee for president Sen. John McCain.

A reporter for ctnewsjunkie, Christine Stuart, caught up with Blumenthal at one of his hourly (only kidding) news conferences and put the question to him: Assuming Dodd vacated his position to run with Obama as Vice President, would Blumenthal be interested in occupying his seat in the U.S. Senate?

“’Of course I have an interest in the senate seat.’ Blumenthal then explained that he doesn’t think the Countrywide mortgage issue that has dogged Dodd in recent weeks should be anything more than a ‘minute blip on any national candidate’s resume.”

A New Haven For Terrorists

Somewhere along the line, the new policy of New Haven, Connecticut regarding illegal immigrants ran up against a thinking journalist, the Managing Editor of the Journal Inquirer in Manchester,Chris Powell, and the collision has produced sparks that may be of interest to those who sometimes worry about terrorists. Connecticut's commissioner of emergency management and homeland security James Thomas is not among their number.

With the blessing of Connecticut’s Freedom of Information Commission and the state’s commissioner of homeland security, New Haven, with perfect secrecy, may now hand out to illegal aliens identification cards that, in Powell’s estimation, “create identities --genuine or contrived -- for its illegal alien residents who have no genuine ID documents, so that their continued illegal residency in New Haven may be facilitated.”

If you are an illegal alien who has penetrated the porous borders of the United States on your way to New Haven, you may be rewarded with an identification card upon presentation to local authorities of utility bills and foreign consular ID cards, both of which are easily forged and easily obtained by using forged credentials.

For the moment, put aside the question whether people who are in the United States illegally should be permitted to remain illegally in the country and continue to flout the laws without being deported when it is discovered by public officials that they are violating the very laws the public officials are sworn to uphold. Forget for the moment that public officials in New Haven, by facilitating the creation of possible fraudulent identities, are not performing due diligence. Let us concentrate, for the purpose of this blog, on two questions:

Has the Freedom of Information Commission in its decision taken a perilous step towards self-extinction? And should Connecticut’s Homeland Security chief be looking for another job?

In both a column that will appear in the Journal Inquirer on Saturday and in a letter to the Freedom of Information Commission that appears with permission below, Powell makes a very strong case that Connecticut’s FOI has stepped beyond the pale.

At the Freedom of Information’ Commission’s hearing, the homeland security commissioner testified that he “took at face value” hearsay representations made by the city of New Haven. The commission itself accepted affidavits from people whose identities were concealed from the complainants and did not allow the complainants, Powell and Dustin Gold of the Community Watchdog Project, to cross examine the witnesses from whom the hearsay evidence was drawn. The commission then reached a decision based on a premise that undermines its own authority.

To put it in the baldest possible terms, the premise upon which the FOI decision rests is that the security of illegal aliens, some of whom may now or in the future be terrorists, trumps the clear language of the FOI law.

In a statement to the commission about its decision (reprinted below) Powell puts it this way: “The proposed decisions, would construe Connecticut General Statutes Section 1-210(b) (19) to mean that the openness of public records is determined by the degree of controversy generated by them. That is, I lose my ordinary rights to freedom of information if others make enough threats, even anonymous threats, or if others purport to be scared enough about disclosure. Is that really the standard your commission means to uphold? If so, Connecticut will never again know which documents are really public documents, for the standard for disclosure will not be intrinsic to documents themselves but rather to the controversy around them.”

Powell writes that in a stunning admission, Connecticut Homeland Security chief James Thomas told the FOI commission that “arch-terrorist Osama bin Laden himself already could have obtained a New Haven city ID card and Connecticut's homeland security department would not know about it, and his position was that the public should not be able to know about it either. It was, Thomas and New Haven's city administration said, a matter of protecting holders of the city ID cards against people who might assault them out of a resentment of illegal immigration.”

The answer to the second question posed earlier in this blog seems obvious. If Thomas has conspired with quasi-socialist Mayor of New Haven John DeStefano in sanctioning a process that he himself admits could be used to provide possibly false identities to committed terrorists, why should he continue in his office of Homeland Security commissioner? At the very least, should not his title be amended to read State Commissioner of Homeland Insecurity?


POWELL STATEMENT TO FOIC 7/8/2008

Dear Commissioners:

I endorse the legal memorandum that will be submitted by Dustin Gold and the Community Watchdog Project in connection with the proposed decisions in FIC 2007-498, Chris Powell vs. Mayor of New Haven, and FIC 2007-605, Dustin Gold and the Community Watchdog Project vs. Mayor of New Haven and New Haven Community Services Administrator. For the reasons in that memorandum and for the reasons that follow, please do not approve the proposed decisions.

1) The hearing in these cases was highly irregular and unfair to the complainants. The commission accepted affidavits from people whose identities were not provided to the complainants, and thus no cross-examination was possible.

2) The proposed decisions are based largely on hearsay, assertions in documents that were not formally placed in evidence and were not subject to any testimonial examination before the hearing. Note particularly Paragraphs 18a, 18b, and 18c in the proposed decisions. These paragraphs cite assertions made in documents that were submitted by the City of New Haven to the commissioner of the state Department of Emergency Management and Homeland Security and that, in turn, were submitted to the Freedom of Information Commission hearing by the commissioner as the basis of his decision in these cases. No witness testified that the assertions contained in these documents were actually made by the people to whom they are attributed. But the homeland security commissioner did testify that he made no inquiry of his own about any of the documents submitted by the city; he testified that he simply took them at face value. So I question how this commission can claim to have any direct knowledge about the Hal Turner radio program cited in Paragraph 18a, about the Anti-Defamation League publication cited in 18b, and about the Brian James radio program cited in Paragraph 18c. There was simply no testimony verifying these assertions and thus no opportunity for cross-examination. And yet these assertions, all hearsay, are the very core of the proposed decisions.

3) The proposed decisions uphold the decision of the homeland security commissioner to prevent disclosure of the documents requested. Yet the homeland security commissioner himself held no hearings on the requests for disclosure. He testified that he communicated only with New Haven city officials before making his decision. He never gave me or the other complainants in this case an opportunity to be heard in regard to his decision. Is that really the standard your commission means to uphold? Is that consistent with freedom of information and due process?

4) The proposed decisions would construe Connecticut General Statutes Section 1-210(b)(19) to mean that the openness of public records is determined by the degree of controversy generated by them. That is, I lose my ordinary rights to freedom of information if others make enough threats, even anonymous threats or if others purport to be scared enough about disclosure. Is that really the standard your commission means to uphold? If so, Connecticut will never again know which documents are really public documents, for the standard for disclosure will not be intrinsic to documents themselves but rather to the controversy around them.

5) You do not have to construe Section 1-210-(b)(19) this way. For you have construed it differently before. Construing 1-210(b) (19) to mean that the standard of disclosure is not intrinsic to the documents themselves but a matter of the controversy around them, the proposed decisions contradict the Freedom of Information Commission's decision in a case from two years ago, FIC 2006-343, Reitz and The Associated Press vs. Correction Commissioner. Your decision in the Reitz case specifically contradicts the legal construction adopted by the proposed decisions before you today. In the Reitz case, you construed 1-210(b)(19) to deal entirely with the security of government and public utility facilities and the people therein. Before you decide this case, please look at the
Reitz case and see if you can reconcile the decision there with the decisions proposed here. Or at least tell us that you mean to reverse the Reitz case and that you know very well what you're doing.

6) If, with these cases, you do reverse the interpretation you gave to Section 1-210(b) (19) in the Reitz case, you will destroy your own authority. This will become the Freedom of Information Commission only in name when someone feels threatened by disclosure, which, of course, is most of the time. In actual practice jurisdiction for freedom of information will be transferred to the homeland security commissioner. If that's what you do, I hope that the homeland security commissioner at least starts holding hearings and stops deciding cases in secret.

7) Section 1-210(b)(19) is Connecticut's homeland security statute. It was enacted in response to the massive deadly terrorism committed by illegal aliens on September 11, 2001. So is it really possible or plausible that our homeland security statute was meant to require secrecy for a government program undertaken precisely to confer identification documents on illegal aliens and to facilitate their remaining in the country illegally? That is what you are deciding here.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Dodd Slips

An story in The Day of New London examines the slippage in US Sen. Chris Dodd’s popularity, now hovering around 50%: “The percentage of voters who disapprove of how Dodd is handling his job has risen six points since March to 34 percent…”

Doug Schwartz, the pollmeister at Quinnipiac University, attributes the dip to Dodd’s deal with Countrywide and resentment over Dodd’s failed presidential bid: “The perception was that he was not focusing on his job as senator representing Connecticut,” said Schwartz.

Former Democratic state party chairman George Jepsen begs to differ. Jepsen said it wasn’t unusual for failed presidential candidates to suffer a home-state backlash and attributed Dodd’s slippage to, according to the Day, “the anti-incumbent mood from the sour economy."

If Jepsen’s analysis is right –it isn’t – the Democrat Congressional delegation should be shaking in its boots. The last Republican congressman standing in New England is moderate Rep. Chris Shays; the rest are all Democrat incumbents.

Jesse’s Nuts

Jesse Jackson puts his foot in Barack Obama’s mouth. No big deal. All is forgiven.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

We Feel Your Pain… But: An Examination of a Courant Editorial

The Courant editorial is called “Have Another Drink,” and it draws a parallel between the consumption of alcohol and gas.

And what’s wrong with that?

The suggestion is that those who drive cars are addicted to gas in the same sense that drunks are addicted to alcohol. There are some differences: Alcohol is not a necessity, except for those who have fallen into the bottle, and gasoline, a by product of oil, is a necessity, pending the invention and mass production and availability of cars that run on air, water or fairy dust.

The premise of the editorial is that alternative transportation sources are not likely to be developed in the absence of some need. Gas at $14 a gallon, (the price in Ireland and much of Europe) to pick a random figure, is likely to produce such a need. Therefore, any attempt to lower gas prices to a level that decreases the pain of shelling out $14 for a gallon of it would be, as the progressives say, not in the public interest.

Got a problem with that?

Well, yes. The strategy may end up creating an intolerable pain, not a need. This is the kind of thing that produces revisionist backlashes. Here is the Courant’s narrative: 1) Public transportation is better than private transportation because it is less polluting; 2) if you provide public transportation, people will take advantage of it. Build it and they will come; 3) so long as gas is abundant and cheap, there is no need to develop alternative transportation sources; 4) such sources – rail lines, for instance, that will carry people to and from work in urban areas, so as to avoid Hellish sprawl – are highly desirable for a whole host of reasons we have addressed sufficiently in other editorials. Please review them, and pay attention; 5) these resources cannot be developed so long as people rest comfortably in their usual ruts; 6) soaring gas prices ignite the kind of progress we like; 7) therefore, high gas prices should be a reason for celebration, not cause of lamentation.

Into this narrative now come troglodyte tax-axing Republicans.

The Republican Party in Connecticut has proposed ameliorating the pain felt by nutmeggers caught in the gas vise by capping the wholesale price of gas at $3.40 a gallon, well below the European ceiling. While this measure may not prevent evil gas companies from raising the price of gas further, it will prevent the evil state from hauling in more tax money as the price increases.

The Courant has responded to this measure with a hearty guffaw.

“Pardon us for being skeptical,” the paper says. The Courant doubts the tax cut will be passed on to the tax consumer. Any tax cut, the paper asserts, will deplete “transportation improvement funds.”

Actually, the proposed measure is not a tax cut; it is a measure that will thwart further tax increases as the price of gas rises, not quite the same thing. The paper’s supposition that the so called “tax cut” will deplete “transportation improvement funds” is grounded in a false premise. The tax Republicans want to cap flows into the general fund. There is in Connecticut no tax fund dedicated to transportation improvements.

Even if scoundrelly Republicans are successful in their effort to prevent state government from feasting off the misery of the people, the state itself could dedicate more money from the general fund to finance the Courant’s vision. That, of course would blow a hole in the state budget that could be filled if the Courant would agitate among tax consumers, mostly public employees, to make real sacrifices for the sake of rail transit and Connecticut’s bright future as seen from the rose colored windows of the Courant’s home office, which has not yet been vacated and put on the selling block by its new owner, real estate magnate Sam Zell.

Pardon us for being skeptical.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Citizen Donovan

Next year, Speaker of the state House Jim Amann, will hand the Speaker’s baton to Rep. Christopher Donovan, a Democrat from Meriden who works part time as a union organizer for the Congress of Connecticut Community Colleges and is presumed to be much further left on the political spectrum than his predecessor.

Should he become Speaker, Donovan has suggested he will sever his ties with the CCCC. The business community, perhaps reasoning that while you can take Donovan out of the union, you cannot take the union out of Dovovan, is said to be wary of the presumed new Speaker.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Bye-Bye

The news site of the year, TimesOnLine, is reporting that the surge has succeeded in driving Al-Qaeda from Iraq: “American and Iraqi forces are driving Al-Qaeda in Iraq out of its last redoubt in the north of the country in the culmination of one of the most spectacular victories of the war on terror.”

It may take some time for the good news to trickle down to other news hot spots like The Huffington Post and MoveOn.org. It is rumored that Democrat presidential candidate Barack Obama intends to visit Iraq, sometime or other, at which point his aides may disclose the news to him, after which he may -- ahem -- "adjust" his view on the withdrawal of troops without regard to realities on the ground.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Them That's Got Will Lose

Comptroller Nancy Wyman has detected some cracks in Connecticut’s principal revenue engine, the state’s income tax.

“The drop in the income tax is directly linked to the drop in job growth we saw in the first four months of the calendar year,” Wyman said.

According to a report in the Journal Inquirer, the 40 percent of the state’s income tax tied to Connecticut’s wealthiest households in the form of capital gains, dividends, investment income, and year-end bonuses has suffered a drastic diminishment.

“Between the 2001 and 2002 fiscal years,” the JI reported “the investment portion of the income tax lost more than $420 million. By 2003, the overall decline topped $550 million.”

It would appear that the rich don’t always get richer as the poor get poorer. Former President John Kennedy got it right when he said that a rising tide lifts all the boats. Prosperity lifts both the rich and the poor on its broad shoulders.

Connecticut’s tide has been receding for a long while, and the question arises “What to do?”

Wyman has suggested that “Rell and the legislature should begin working together now to address the projected $150 million to $175 million deficit in the 2009 budget, rather than engaging in partisan attacks.”

Deficits can be addressed in one of three ways. The deficit can be lowered through spending cuts, tax increases or a combination of both.

In the past, the legislature, dominated by Democrats and enabled by compliant Republican governors, has not favored spending cuts, here defined as permanent reductions in state revenues. The state has had its share of tax rebates, small enough not to alarm revenue consumers such as the state’s powerful teacher unions. Cuts were not likely as the state, flushed in surpluses, rolled surplus after surplus into the swelling general fund. In the space of three governors – two of them, Governors Jodi Rell and John Rowland, Republicans, and the third, Governor Lowell Weicker, the daddy of the state’s income tax, a “maverick” who bolted the Republican Party to run as an independent governor -- Connecticut’s budget has nearly tripled, if one adds the increase in state bonding into the mix.

And so here we stand, the red tide licking at our ankles. The prodigal’s son left his father’s home, blew his patrimony on baubles, and now he has returned home in rags.

Actually, it’s worse than this if one applies the parable to Connecticut, because the head of the household also has been something of a spendthrift. He too is wearing rags; the homestead has been mortgaged to other lenders; and the old man’s usual source of income, the taxes he’s levied on his workers has diminished, in proportion as they have left him to search for work in neighboring territories where the grass is greener and the mangers of households are more prudent.

What to do?

We’ve run this course before. Indeed, these were the circumstances that gave rise to the state’s income tax.

The Democrat plan, last outlined most boldly by New Haven Mayor John DeStefano in Connecticut’s recent gubernatorial campaign, is to force the rich to cough up their “fair share” of taxes. But, as we have seen, the general fund has been destabilized precisely by the tax instrument that Democrats hope to increase.
Will this datum figure in the non-partisan deliberations on the coming deficit that Wyman is urging upon legislators and Rell?

If it does figure in the deliberations, the non-partisan politicians will discover that there is but one way to stem the coming red tide.

Cut spending.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Obama and the Audacity of Adjustments

Sen. Barack Obama waged a hard-left campaign against Sen. Hillary Clinton and dished her, with much help from hard-leftists both in the media and on blog sites. It is only a slight exaggeration to say he became Clinton in order to up-end her.

The quick change artist may have something similar in mind for his Republican opponent, Sen. John McCain.

The trick, now that Obama is facing a moderate Republican, is to move to the middle without irreparably damaging his support on the left.

This can be managed.

Obama, whose stern and inflexible views on immediate withdrawal from Iraq solidified his position on the left in the primary, now finds it necessary to adjust that view in the general election. An immediate withdrawal from Iraq in the post surge period, to take but one example of Obama’s recent serial adjustments, was always questionable, except as a primary campaign strategy.

But a guy’s got to do what a guy’s got to do.

And so now we are told, both by Obama’s handlers and the cheerleading section in the main stream media, that the Obama campaign is “adjusting” its views.

But of course it is.

So then, will Obama’s adjusted view on shutting down the war in Iraq cost him votes or money among the smart set over at MoveOn.org or the Huffington Post, both progressive sites that have been partly responsible for Obama’s bulging campaign treasury?

Not enough to matter.

The beauty about adjustments is this: A man wedded to principle may be expected to embrace his principle in fair or foul weather. But it is nearly impossible to get a bead on adjusters who are wedded only to the principle of adjustment. If a candidate for president can adjust his view from A to Not-A concerning the immediate withdrawal of troops from Iraq in response to the political necessities presented during a primary campaign, then there is nothing to prevent the same candidate from readjusting the view from Not-A to A when political circumstances change.

This means that the progressives warming their hands over the fire of “change” the Obama campaign has held out to a hopeful nation are fervently hoping that, once installed as president, the candidate of change will again change his view on the matter to comport with their own. And besides, are these people likely to vote for John McCain? His view on the war in Iraq, pilloried by the MoveOn.org and Huffington folk as Bush II policies, has not changed at all. It is the same as it was when McCain opposed Bush’s early conduct of the war? Bush, McCain said at he beginning of the war, had not invested enough troops in Iraq to secure the country from insurgents.

What is true of Obama’s adjustment of his position on Iraq likewise will be true of other adjustments it is expected he will make on a whole host of issues including FISA, NAFTA, unscripted dialogue with dictators, the death penalty and other momentous issues.

The audacity of hope pales in comparison with the audacity of change, a catchy title for Obama’s next book. Both hope and change spring eternal, and both, depending on the object of hope and change, sometimes stand with both feet firmly planted in the clouds.

St Paul the apostle said that he had become “all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some."

Salvational politicians go through the same motions as they pass from primaries to general elections. In the general election, the hunt for independents and moderates begins in earnest. One mask comes off and another is put on. The message changes when the audience changes.

Obama, the political preacher, is better at adjusting the message than most, but the gap between the promises he made, explicit and implicit, to progressive during the primaries, when he needed their support and money, and his newer general campaign “adjustments” would made the Grand Canyon blush with envy.

Very quickly, he is becoming the Elmer Gantry of American politics.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

A Good Photo-op Spoiled

Mellissa Baily of CTNewsJunkie tells us that Attorney General Richard Blumenthal and Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz jumped the gun in a VA hospital recently and, if we can mix metaphors, landed on the shark. Mark Twain once said of golf that it was “a good walk spoiled.” Here we have a good photo-op spoiled. Has Blumenthal slipped on blood?

CAP AND TRADE FOR CLIMATE CHANGE

Rightly or wrongly, Global Warming offers disaster for our planet. Countering it has become a consuming concern. Emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) focus on carbon dioxide. “A reduction in carbon emissions has become an end in itself,” observes Bjorn Lomborg, whose Copenhagen Consensus found 36 better ways to accomplish the goal.

Carbon dioxide is the by-product of fossil fuel, chiefly oil, which provides 85% of our energy. European attempts to decrease CO2 have failed while being extremely expensive. Nearly every European country has higher emissions today than when the Kyoto Protocol which started it was signed in 1997. Cap and Trade (C&T), a favored approach, is “the biggest income tax on industry yet devised,” in the opinion of Senator James Ihhofe (R, Oklahoma). Nevertheless some influential firms welcome it.

“Cap” would put a lid on the emissions each plant can produce through “allowances” distributed by government or some other authority. “Trade” is to enable firms that have more allowances than they need, to sell the excess to firms that do not have enough. Periodically, the total GHG emissions would in some way be lowered, and the amount of energy available to run the economy lowered correspondingly.

There are C&T bills which Senator Inhofe says are “all economic pain and no climate gain.” They will raise the price of electricity by 35% to 65% by 2020. Many firms will have to close, meaning a loss of jobs of 1.5 to 3.4 million by 2020, according to the Charles River Associates International. The Congressional Budget Office says a tax on carbon would be more efficacious. Senator Inhofe says the Lieberman-Warner bill is the biggest tax bill in U.S. history.

The Lieberman-Warner bill, S2191, is based on an estimate that we will reduce GHG emissions by 60% by the year 2050--80% say the presidential aspirants. The last time we emitted that amount, one billion metric tons of CO2, was in 1911. We had a population then of 92 million. Our population will be 420 million in 2050.

If we cut emissions by 80%, that would allow 2.5 metric tons per person per year. The only nations today that burn that little are Belize , Mauritius , Jordan , Haiti , and Somalia . Even countries that generate their electricity by non-fossil fuel, France (nuclear power) and Switzerland (hydro power), emit 6.5 metric tons per person. The average U.S. residence today emits 11.4 tons of CO2. Reduced to 2050 goals, we would emit 1.5 tons, not enough to run the hot-water heater. Overshooting the goal by 40% is transportation, even if every person in the U.S drove a Toyota Prius, according to Steven Hayward.

Such, such are the joys of the standard-of-living cost to reap the benefit of reducing Global Warming by 0.07 degrees centigrade—less than one-tenth of a degree--an amount too small to verify.

Nevertheless, C&T has support from the Who’s Who in industry. In January, 2007, ten firms (now 27) and four environmental organizations formed the U.S. Climate Action Partnership (USCAP). Regulations hurt some and help some. USCAP welcomes regulations for buying and selling GHG permits (called “allowances”) and auctions. USCAP proposes mandatory reductions of GHG emissions from large stationery sources, transportation, and heavy use of energy in commercial and residential buildings.

USCAP’s initial members included GE, ALCOA, DuPont, Caterpillar, and the environmental organizations Environmental Defense (Fund), Natural Resources Defense Council, the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, and the World Resources Institute. Not all environmental organizations agree. In California , 25 have lobbied the California government in opposition.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce joined USPAC but not the National Association of Manufacturers. Citigroup wrote a research brief on opportunities for investment, according to Timothy P. Carney in his June essay, “United States Climate Action Partnership,” a Capital Research Center publication.

What has the USCAP been up to? To design its program and lobby Congress and the government, it has hired two firms. One is William Ruckelshaus’s Meridian Institute, a firm that says on its website it gets “decision-makers and diverse stakeholders [to] solve some of society’s most contentious public policy issues.” Mr. Ruckelshaus, the first Administrator of EPA, on the appeal of his friend the Environmental Defense Fund, overruled his EPA judge and banned DDT, leading (still) to the deaths of millions from malaria.

Senator Barbara Boxer was thrilled to see USCAP, remarking, “There are just a few moments in history when all sides come together for the common good . . . to avoid a global warming crisis.” The first bill heard in her Environment and Public Works Committee had few supporters. Mrs. Boxer had only 36 of her troops standing with her. Commented The Wall Street Journal, the environmentalists were “stunned that their Global Warming agenda is in collapse,” adding, “The green groups now look as politically intimidating as the skinny kid on the beach who gets sand kicked in his face.”

Not in collapse is the Lieberman-Warner bill named “ America ’s Climate Security Act of 2007.” It is much like the mandates USCAP want. It provides that the Feds hand out allowances to industry, state governments, “and agencies.” A new Climate Change Credit Corporation will auction off additional allowances.

S2191 instructs the EPA and Department of Agriculture to create a system to take account of GHG offsets. “Plant a tree, earn an offset.” What will be included? How will the allowances be distributed?

Some say we must act now to avoid a crisis. But there is no action in the bill, observes Senator Inhofe. It does nothing about nuclear energy, says nothing to increase use of clean coal or to increase refinery capacity or to increase electricity-generation or transmission.


By Natalie Sirkin
gnsirkin@aol.com
c2008