Sunday, September 28, 2008

Court Rules Prosecutors Withheld Evidence in Rowland Related Case

The Spadoni case has been making its way through the judicial grinder for more than four years.

The lede to an early 2004 New York Times story reads:

HARTFORD, April 12 - A lawyer convicted last summer of giving a $2 million bribe to Paul J. Silvester, former state treasurer, in exchange for a contract for his company to manage Connecticut's pension fund is seeking a new trial, claiming that the government misled his defense team and the jury.”

Silvester is, of course, the canary whose chirping brought down the Rowland administration.

In 2004, Spadoni’s defense attorneys were claiming, according to the Times’report, that prosecutors had mislead the jury when they said Silvester, the star witness in the bribery case against Spadoni, had admitted his role in bribing Spadoni and was being punished for it.

On the contrary, Spadoni’s attorneys claimed, “Mr. Silvester never pleaded guilty to accepting a bribe in the case involving Triumph Capital Group, a Boston investment firm for which Mr. Spadoni served as general counsel.”

According to a recent story filed by Jon Lender, a Hartford Courant reporter who covered corruption in the Rowland administration, the US 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in New York has unceremoniously thrown out Spadoni’s earlier conviction.

At first blush, it seems that the prosecutors may have presented tainted evidence to the jury that convicted Spadoni.

According to Lender’s story:

“Spadoni was accused of bribing former state Treasurer Paul Silvester to invest $200 million of state pension money with Boston-based Triumph Capital Group, for which Spadoni served as general counsel.

“Silvester, treasurer from July 1997 to January 1999, pleaded guilty in late 1999 to corruption charges involving bribes and kickbacks in connection with state pension fund investments. He cooperated with federal prosecutors in cases against others and served three years in prison.

“The Spadoni appeal focused on notes Silvester made for his attorneys in 1999 about corrupt activities by himself and others. His lawyers used them as a reference in telling prosecutors what Silvester could testify about if they agreed to a plea bargain.

“The notes characterized the actions of Spadoni in different language — and a better light — than in Silvester's later testimony. Those notes were never turned over to federal authorities by Silvester's attorneys. But an FBI agent at the time, Charles Urso, made his own notes, which accurately reflected Silvester's notations as relayed by the lawyers.”


Federal prosecutors, however, never made Urso’s notes available to Spadoni’s attorneys. Had they done so, the US 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals ruled, Spadoni’s attorneys would have been able to use the notes to suggest to the jury that convicted him that "Spadoni had declined to make payments that amounted to a bribe. By suppressing Urso's notes ... the government deprived Spadoni of exculpatory evidence going to the core of its bribery case against him.”

Or to put it in less polite terms, federal prosecutors had through their strategic omissions created a fictitious series of events that persuaded a jury to send Spadoni to jail for three years. Spadoni has been out on bail pending his appeal and re-trial. The appeals court reversed Spadoni's convictions on charges of racketeering, racketeering conspiracy, bribery and wire fraud, sending those charges back to federal court in Connecticut for a new trial, while ordering a new sentencing on an obstruction of justice conviction.

The charges thrown out by the appeals court are often found in cases prosecuted under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, a piece of legislation that was designed to be used in cases involving drug trafficking and mob activity. When prosecutors used RICO legislation to torment abortion protestors, the architect of the legislation said that RICO should never be used in the prosecution of political crimes.

The appellate court’s decision raises important unanswered questions: Are there other cases in Connecticut of a like kind in which prosecutors, using RICO legislation, have withheld exculpatory evidence from defense attorneys? Is this the nose of some as yet hidden camel? If prosecutors in this particular case manipulated information that should by law have been shared with the defense, have they done the same in other prosecutions connected with the Silvester case? Is this a domino that will knock down other legal dominoes in Rowland related prosecutions? These are questions it would be hazardous in good conscience to ignore.

The subprime Horror, continued: Out of the mouths of commentators

How odd it is that one has to look to blog commentators rather than the US House or Senate, the greatest deliberative bodies on earth, for permanent solutions to future financial crises. From a Politico commentator on the eve of The Great Pickpocketing:

“Subprime mortgages will never be mandated by the US government again. Subprime mortgages will never be guaranteed by the US government again. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac loans will no longer be guaranteed by the US government. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will be broken up into smaller companies and auctioned within 12 months. If a company or entitiy decides to fund mortgages to the poor who cannot afford it, it will be done without the support or guarantee of the US government. Let liberals fund all subprime mortgages and lose a trillion dollars. The FBI will look into the relationship between leading congressmen and Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac for possible criminal charges. A panel will be formed (like the 9/11 commission) that will document and expose 20 years of relationships between congressmen, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac with subpoena power. Barney Frank and Chris Dodd must be removed from all financial committees and banned for life.”

Friday, September 26, 2008

Palinphobia

“On the last night of the Republican convention,” Jim Geraghty observed in the latest issue of National Review, “MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann reacted in outrage to a comment by Hawaii governor Linda Lingle... Said Olbermann: 'I’d love the governor or anybody else repeating those talking points to give us the names of those news organizations that have actually questioned whether or not mothers have a right to sit in office. But we haven’t heard that list yet.' His colleague Chris Matthews agreed: 'I sit here waiting for that list of major news organizations who have questioned her motherhood or her right to become vice president, given her motherhood. I don’t think it has ever happened.'

“Glad to oblige.”

And oblige he does.

NBC News anchor Brian Williams: “Are [working women with several children] wrong when they express fears or doubts that she should be able to do this, that she should be doing this?”

Washington Post columnist Sally Quinn: “And I think if you’re talking about the commander-in-chief, and that is what she is likely to be given his age and his health, will she put her country first, or will she put her family first?”

Harry Smith of CBS’s Early Show: “Coming up, the mommy wars. Should a woman with five children run for the nation’s second-highest office? We’ll hear from all sides of that debate. The question, can a mother of five, including an infant with Down syndrome, be an effective vice president?”

Sally Quinn again: “…a woman with five children, including one with special needs, and a daughter who is a 17-year-old child who is pregnant and about to have a baby, probably has got to rethink her priorities.”

An on-screen headline over at MSNBC: “…some working mothers worry that Palin is taking on too much” and “some voters concerned if Palin, a mother of five, has time to be VP”

Liberal talk-show host Ed Schultz to Larry King: “What kind of mother is she? Is she prepared to be the vice president? Is she going to be totally focused on the issues?”

Campbell Brown of CNN to McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds: “…why [Sarah Palin] would have subjected [Bristol Palin, her pregnant daughter] to this kind of scrutiny by accepting this high-profile position?”

Bill Weir of ABC News to McCain aide Mike DuHaime: “Adding to the brutality of a national campaign, the Palin family also has an infant with special needs. What leads you, the senator, and the governor to believe that one won’t affect the other in the next couple of months?”

Alan Colmes on his blog: “Did Palin Take Proper Pre-Natal Care? ...even after the water broke, [she] continued with her activities and then boarded a plane.”

Explaining the ways of womanhood to men, Gerahty felt constrained to point out to Colmes “that preterm premature rupture of the placental membrane (PPROM) complicates 3 percent of all pregnancies, occurs in approximately 150,000 U.S. pregnancies each year, and can occur before labor begins. While there is some risk of infection or compression of the umbilical cord, active labor can, in some cases, be delayed as much as a week. At the time, Palin called her doctor, Cathy Baldwin-Johnson, who — based on the length of time between contractions — determined Palin was not in active labor and okayed her return flight. She gave birth the next day.”

And then ,of course, there was Lindsay Lohan, not a newswoman yet: “I am concerned with the fact that Sarah Palin brought the attention to her daughter’s pregnancy, rather than all world issues and what she believes she could possibly do to change them — if elected.”

Palinophobia is on the march, and there are miles to go before we sleep.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Coming State Budget Crunch

The national economic fender bender should introduce a welcomed dollop of sobriety into budget discussions between Connecticut’s major parties.

The Democrat camp, which for several years has argued for a more steeply progressive rate on the incomes of Gold Coast millionaires, has put away its rhetoric, at least for the time being. The millionaires are hurting, and their pain is being felt by redistributionist mayors and congresspersons at the state capitol. Connecticut’s revenues have been diminished by, in Democrat parlance, the parlous financial conditions of the greedy CEOs of Wall Street who are now suffering a well deserved comeuppance. Unfortunately, their setback means that the revenue that poured into state coffers for the last decade and more from dubious financial transaction on Wall Street is no longer trickling down to the big spenders at the state capitol.

Obviously, something must be done. At this point, Micawber’s economic theory kicks in.

“Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen pounds nineteen and six, result happiness,” says Mr. Micawber in Charles Dickens’ David Copperfield. “Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds and six, result misery.”

Apparently, no one shared this apercu with the boys on Wall Street busily engaged in a kind of financial alchemy in which worthless mortgages were transmuted into complex financial instruments and sold to idiot buyers. But here we are in Micawberworld; we have come crashing to the bottom of reality’s pickle jar.

And Connecticut, a state that depended overmuch on the good fortune of those who had fortunes, is now hurting – like its millionaires. The projected state budget deficit was $300 million a few days after the mortgage industry went bust. It will rise as the economic tide recedes.

The moral of this sad tale is simple: Any state that lives off the tax dollars collected from, in Democrat parlance, “those who can afford to pay their fair share” will experience revenue contractions when the fortunes of those who can no longer afford to pay their fair share diminish or disappear.

You can’t get water from a stone, not even a rich stone.

The stone sober state Republican Party has called for a forum to discuss and settle upon a means of cutting spending. The state Democrat Party, still suffering from delusions of plenty, has called for – take a deep breath here – a study group to study the problem.

Given the seriousness of the national financial collapse, calling for a study group to recommend ways of cutting state programs may strike some as Neronic; Nero, it has been said, fiddled while Rome burned. And if study groups were around in 64 AD, he would have called for a study group and then fiddled. Actually, the fiddle was not in existence when Rome burned. Nero was an accomplished harpist; so, the metaphor would be more correct if it were said that Nero was harping while Rome burned.

The state legislature is also harping. Republicans want a forum in which participating members – including legislative leaders and enlightened leaders in the state – will decide what to cut and what remedies to apply to staunch the wounds, while Democrats want a study group to audit the Department of Social Services and recommend measures to discharge the deficit.

Concerning the proposed audit, Republican leader Stewart McKinney justly said, “ "Anyone who thinks we are going to audit our way out of this financial crisis," McKinney said, "is either incredibly naive or deliberately trying to pull the wool over the heads of voters."

What’s to study? There is a deficit, the deficit must be discharged, and this can only be done by raising taxes or cutting spending. The national economic meltdown almost certainly precludes raising taxes. And so we are left with spending cuts. The legislature itself, which sets the budget, is a study group empowered to raise taxes or cut spending. So, let it study in the time honored fashion, in open session, and recommend ways of trimming the budget.

Micawber the realist knows that debts unsettled will settle the debtor, and so do Democrat leaders in the legislature.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

MURPHY AND THE ENERGY BILL, VICTORY OR HOAX

Remember that Speaker Pelosi shut down the House of Representatives without giving it a chance to vote on whether to permit drilling for oil? She had the lights turned out the camera turned off. But a bunch of Republicans stayed behind and debated the issue, day after day, during the five weeks the House was on paid vacation, and ten senators of both parties worked on a compromise. President Bush lifted his presidential moratorium on off-shore drilling. The Congress’s moratorium expires on September 30.

Lots of Americans must have contacted their representatives asking them to hold a special session and vote, up or down, on drilling. It had an effect. Speaker Pelosi changed her plans. She announced she would “be open to voting on a drilling compromise.”

The writing of the drilling compromise was finished and the bill was introduced Monday night, September 15, at 9:45 p.m. (The name of the bill is “Comprehensive American Energy Security and Consumer Protection Act,” H.R. 6899.) Though no committee or representative had seen it, it was debated on Tuesday, the 16th. Democrats said the 290-paged bill was “bipartisan,” though no amendments or substitutes were allowed, and no Republican (or Democrat?) had even seen it.

The vote was 236 yes to 189 no. All Democrats except 13 voted yes including Christopher Murphy, 5th District, Connecticut . Fifteen Republicans voted yes including Christopher Shays, 4th District, Connecticut . According to Mr. Murphy’s e-mail of September 17, the Republican “party’s leadership decided at the last minute it didn’t want to share a victory on energy policy with the folks across the aisle this year.” A victory? One Republican—we watched much of the debate on C-SPAN—called it a “no-drill-bill.

Elsewhere Mr. Murphy says, referring to numerous energy bills the House has been discussing, “Opponents refused to vote for any energy legislation that did not open up America ’s shorelines to more oil drilling.” And this one did not. For example,

No drilling in ANWR, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. In addition, permanently closed to drilling is Georges Bank fishing grounds, located off the North Atlantic states and Canada.

No drilling within 50 miles of the coast. (The oil reserves are most plentiful closest to the shore. There are gigantic reserves of oil offshore.)

Drilling is permitted on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS), which is 50-100 miles from the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean coastlines. But the bill requires the permission to drill of the closest coastal state, which “opts in” to allow leasing off its coastline by enacting a state law. As there generally is opposition, a state needs the incentive of royalties. . The bill does not permit the coastal states to get any revenue..

“Use it or lose it” is often heard in this debate. It refers to leases available or held by oil companies on federal government-owned land. But drilling is blocked on every one of the 746 existing leases by lawsuits initiated by environmental organizations, the Sierra Club, EarthJustice, and others. Drilling of leases is also blocked in the Outer Continental Shelf. Not one offshore lease has escaped litigation, The oil companies must pay the government annually for the leases.

A frequent argument (which Mr. Murphy repeats) is that the drilling would not produce much oil, indeed “not a drop in the bucket compared to world supply.” If the world’s supply is relevant, isn’t the U.S. ’s supply more relevant? If so, he should add in the U.S. ’s supply of coal, of which the U.S. has more than the rest of the world combined. A statement from an oil expert at Senator Jeff Session’s committee meeting on the 18th, Thursday—the Senate will have its own bill—made the statement that drilling would produce enough oil to make it unnecessary to import oil for the next 40 years. There are 18 billion barrels proved reserve and 83 billion barrels believed to exist.

Additional provisions of H.R.6899 are:

Sale of at least ten percent of the oil from the strategic petroleum reserve (SPR) is required.

Lifts the moratorium on oil-shale leasing in Colorado , Utah , and Wyoming if those states pass laws permitting it.

No provision for nuclear energy. China , India , and Dubai are building 30, 17, and 14 nuclear energy plants respectively, not because they need them but so that they can export their oil to us.

Roll back $18 billion in oil tax breaks to fund renewable energy and conservation.

Several green housing initiatives are provided, as well as Residential Energy Efficient Block Grant Programs totaling $2.5 billion. Also transit projects including, one commentator observes, $1.2 million to extend New York City subways.

Mr. Murphy, representing the Democrats, says the bill is “comprehensive.” But it has no refineries, no lawsuit reform, no nuclear energy, no development of shale oil resources, no clean coal, no royalties, increased taxes on oil firms. Republicans say that this bill is a hoax, doesn’t produce any energy, and is more about politics than policy. Take your pick.

By Natalie Sirkin
c2008
gnsirkin@aol.com

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Chavez, China and Russia

The United States government is not the only one investing in China.

Marxians of a feather flock together.

Rangel Disabled

Claiming that Republicans were waging a guerilla war against him, besieged New York pol Charlie Rangel, a Democrat, has paid $10,800 in back taxes, which is a good thing. Then he called Republican Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin “disabled,” which is a bad thing.

Mrs. Palin recently gave birth to a Down Syndrome child who, Democrat well-wishers insisted, was birthed by her daughter, which is a lie.

A Not So Open Secret: Congressional Millionaires and AIG

The federal reserve has just shuttled $85 billion of taxpayer’s money to American International Group (AIG).

Opensecrets.org Discloses that AIG, compared to other companies, “has been the most nonpartisan in its contributions, splitting evenly the $9.7 million it has contributed over time. Sen. Chris Dodd, chair of the Senate banking committee, has racked up the most from AIG, with a total of $281,400, while Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), a member of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee and the Senate Finance Committee, takes second with $116,400. Presidential candidates John McCain and Barack Obama collected $103,000 and $82,600 from AIG, respectively.”

Lawmakers were more heavily invested in AIG than any other company: “Twenty-seven lawmakers owned stock in AIG last year, worth between $6.4 million and $20 million. Rep. Robin Hayes (R-N.C.), one of the richest members of Congress, was at the top of the list of congressional investors, owning stock worth between $2.8 million and $11.5 million, while Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) followed with stock valued around $2 million.”

Teresa Heinz Kerry, the ketchup heiress wife of Sen. John Kerry, the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee, lost a bundle. At the end of 2007, she was holding $2 million of AIG stock worth $58.30 a share. This week's AIG stock fell to $2.69 a share.

Comments on the losses were solicited by opensecrets.org, but for some reason the senator’s who lost out on AIG’s tumble were not available for comment.
Perhaps they were too busy working the rescue plan that would prevent further personal losses -- to them, not necessarily to the taxpayers they are asking to foot the bill.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Blumie The Snail


It has taken 17 months for Attorney Richard Blumenthal to discover that Lisa Moody, Governor Jodi Rell’s Svengali, is a political appointee and not a state worker, a piece of delicate information that probably could have been obtained in a two minute conversation with the employee division of state services. As a political appointee, Moody could not have violated a state law banning state employees from using state resources for political activities because – SHE IS NOT A STATE EMPLOYEE.

The Blumenthal probe took one year and four months to reach this very expensive conclusion, sufficient reason, said Republican Party chairman Chris Healy, for everyone to conclude that Blumenthal “has outlived his usefulness. The only people who benefited were the lawyers that many fine people had to hire to protect their reputations which Blumenthal and Democrats sought unsuccessfully to question. Dick Blumenthal owes us a refund.”

He forgot to mention the newspapers, which carried the Moodygate scandal for days on page one and will bury this vindication next to the obituaries.

A Devilish Question

So, we have a business meltdown. Who does it help or hurt, Sen. Barack Obama or Sen. John McCain?

This is a devilish question, but we are in the midst of a presidential campaign. Horns and cloven feet are everywhere.

In American politics, who fashions the best narrative wins. We all like a good yarn. A yarn is a story that sells, one that nestles nicely in our frame of reference, a story that confirms what we have always suspected.

Others, most effectively the Financial Times of London, have suggested that Alan Greenspan is responsible for both the tech bubble and the housing bubble that has now broken over our heads. But the current controversy undoubtedly helps Obama, because he has successfully presented himself to the voting public as an agent of change and, if we are in the pickle jar, we want to get out of it by the quickest possible route. Obama has managed to position himself on the side of the angels. He wants to overthrow the old order, the ancient regime that has brought only misery to the people. He is the new thing; McCain represents the tawdry status quo. And what is the status quo? Its hobnailed boot is everywhere. The status quo is represented by greedy businessmen who rake off millions in profits from the companies they trash. They then expect hard working Americans to shell out tax money to fix their broken enterprises.

The trouble began, according to the Democrat narrative, with deregulation. Once the regulators were out of the room, the jaws of predatory businesses snapped open and smaller competitive businesses were swallowed up by behemoths like AIG and Countrywide, businesses that, as we have seen, have grown “too large to fail.” The regulations removed by Republicans and Democrats in the congress who were friendly to big business, might have tempered the consciences of the CEO’s whose failures are now so conspicuous. Reestablish the regulations and everything will be fine.

McCain’s narrative is Obama lite. McCain is a proven maverick, an Obama with wrinkles and experience. Obama talks a good game, in the presence of a teleprompter, but he’s got peach fuzz on his chin. Once in office, he will become the plaything of the usual Democrat shakers and movers. There is also a whiff about him of the adamantine socialist. Aren’t community organizers larval socialists? Also, Obama has been going through an apparently endless identity crisis, vividly portrayed in both of his autobiographies. It’s not that there’s no “there” there: It’s that he hasn’t yet discovered his “there;” maybe in the sequel to the second biography. McCain’s identity, on the other hand, was formed in the crucible of the Hanoi Hilton, which was, believe you me, no Guantanamo. The narratives on both sides have been affected, if one is to believe the pollsters, by the current financial meltdown -- which favors Obama.

Why?

Because when the house collapses, one begins to look around to assign blame. It seems inadvisable to hire the same carpenter to rebuild the new house. Obama’s easily digestible analysis is that wild, wild Wall Street was let loose upon the world by the deregulation of the market place, the hallmark of the Reagan revolution. He’s the anti-Reagan. We need higher taxes on the rich and more comprehensive governmental regulation of the workplace.


Will people buy into that? There is some evidence to suggest that the much reviled Bush administration did argue for regulation of the mortgage industry. And there is plenty of evidence to suggest that, counter intuitive as it may seem, the reduction of some business taxes increases business acceleration and provides more tax revenue to Washington and derivatively to the states.

Should anyone doubt that Obama will be the next White Houes occupant, they have only to watch CNN’s coverage of the campaign? As Blitzer goes, so goes the world.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

ZZZZZZZZZZ


A precious candid of Charlie Rangle handling the collapse of the old Bush economy.

Hey, the guy has tax problems. Let sleeping dogs lie.

And lie... and lie... and lie ...

Obama, Glam, Glits and Bling


Hollywood turns out to put on the Ritz for its favorite candidate.

This line is certain to be a favorite for those on the right blinded by the Hollywood blitz.

Standing in the courtyard of the Greystoine mansion, surrounded by a Hollywood glow, Obama said through a spokesperson, "I don't know who showed up down in Florida where he [Senator McCain] raised $5 million but my guess is that it wasn't a lot of nurses, firefighters and police officers. The whole corporate lobbying community is rallying to his side. We're going to have to struggle to keep pace. You can't challenge that group and not expect them to have a lot of money."

The struggle goes on.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Dodd and the Dominoes


Firms that were undercapitalized during the housing mortgage failure are now going under. On Black Sunday, Lehmen Brothers tanked, Merrill Lynch quietly sold itself to the Bank of America, and AIG, a major insurer, was tottering.

When AIG put its hand out to the Federal Reserve for a 40-billion- dollar bridge loan to stay afloat while it raised needed capital, the Fed said no. It had already pledged to spend up to 200 billion dollars of taxpayer money to help rescue the government-chartered Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac mortgage underwriters and another troubled investment banking firm, Bear Stearns.

Briefly, the brokers at the failing firms were buying up bad mortgages, repackaging them as stock options and making money hand over fist on the mortgage bubble, which eventually ruptured. When the bubble broke, none of the firms had stored away enough capital to handle the whips and scorns of outrageous fortune.

Sen. Chris Dodd, the chairman of the senate banking committee whose elections have been heavily financed by Countrywide and other bubble blowers, has belatedly called for hearings – even though he had been warned by countless editorials in the Wall Street Journal and presidential directives that his sponsors were full of hooey.

The Hartford Courant belatedly took sharp notice of Dodd’s delinquencies by printing a column written by two Bushies, Al Hubbard and Noam Neusner, that responded to Dodd’s wide-eyed claim that the White House had not been attentive to the coming collapse of the housing mortgage industry.

Au contraire said Hubbard, director of the National Economic Council and assistant to the president from 2005 to 2007, and Neusner, a speechwriter and communications director in the Bush administration from 2002 to 2005.

Way back in the Clinton administration, Treasury Secretary Larry Summers and other were warning that Fannie and Freddie investment portfolios were full of risky holdings. Alan Greenspan, carefully covering both his buddocks, also pointed to the risks presented by undercapitalization. The Wall Street Journal magnificently covered the coming collapse of the mortgage bubble. Someone should send Dodd’s office a subscription.

The Bush administration was nervous about the GSE’s (Government Sponsored Enterprises), pointing out in a 2004 Budget Analytical Perspective that Fannie and Freddie, as well as other Government Sponsored Ponzi Schemes (GSPS’s) “are highly leveraged, holding much less capital in relation to their assets than similarly sized financial institutions. ... A misjudgment or unexpected economic event could quickly deplete this capital, potentially making it difficult for a GSE to meet its debt obligations. Given the very large size of each enterprise, even a small mistake by a GSE could have consequences throughout the economy.”

But the GSE’s are not only under-capitalized; they are, in the precise sense of the term, irresponsible, heedless of consequences. They have been made so by a government that has removed failure from those GSE’s that cannot be permitted to fall because they are large and important to the economy. The chief financial officers of such state supported quasi-public companies made reckless decisions because their stock driven companies were attached to the apron strings of a mothering state that would not permit them to fail. And they knew it.

Connecticut papers already have tied Dodd to the failure of Countrywide, another kaput mortgage lender that had given Dodd a “deal he couldn’t refuse” on his own mortgages in Connecticut and Washington. Months ago, Dodd had promised to release the terms of these sweetheart mortgages. Around the time controversy was swirling around his head like a black halo, Dodd high-tailed it out of town to Ireland, where he has a vacation cottage, perhaps hoping that happier times were ahead.

No such luck. The second shoe fell on Black Sunday.

The bill, as is usual in the case of GSPS’s, will be paid by Dodd’s constituents. And Republicans, Connecticut’s press and Dodd’s opponents – whoever the happy band may be when he comes up for re-election – should remind the senator’s constituents that he is directly responsible for the debt they will assume because the buck did not stop – years ago -- at Dodd’s desk.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Obama’s Failing Strategy

WASHINGTON - An overwhelming advantage in experience and lopsided support from working-class and suburban whites have lifted Republican John McCain to a slender lead over Barack Obama less than two months from Election Day -- ALAN FRAM, Associated Press Writer

That is what we call a red flag.

Running short on message, Sen. and presidential aspirant Barack Obama first borrowed an idea from a cartoon bubble and then, for good measure, threw in a trite saying about lipstick and pigs, all to no avail. The moose hunter and her partner have galloped past him in the polls.

Why?

Obama’s Achilles’ heal is his lack of administrative and foreign policy experience. His trip to Germany, France and England earlier in the year was a frenetic attempt to acquire quickly the semblance of foreign policy experience. Palin has the edge on him with respect to administrative experience, and presidential aspirant John McCain is light years ahead of him on the foreign policy front.

Importing Biden into the ticket was a way of infusing the campaign with a large dose of instant experience.

The strategists in the Obama camp were not prepared for McCain’s Vice Presidential choice. For them, Palin’s entrĂ©e into the race was a resounding smack upside the head, and not only because she was a woman who threatened to turn the Hillary Clinton herd of disappointed women into the Republican paddock.

Hell hath no fury, the ancient Greeks knew, like a woman scorned, and Obama’s summary rejection of Clinton as a presidential partner seemed to many a scornful act. What were Obama strategists to do now that McCain had chosen as his campaign partner a frontier woman, ex-model, moose hunter, hockey mom and corruption busting governor of Alaska, all bound up in feminine mystique?

Here’s an idea: Let’s attack her!

Now, attacks of this kind are not unusual in American politics. America’s first real political campaign – the Jefferson Adam’s tousle – featured the usual tricks of the trade. Adams and his wife accused Jefferson of being a bloody sans culotte, and an atheist to boot. Jefferson and his eventual vice president, Aaron Burr, accused Adams of harboring monarchical pretensions. Burr plotted first against Adams, thereby displeasing Alexander Hamilton whom he later shot in a duel, and then sought to use the arcane system by which presidents were chosen to hoist himself into the presidency. Everyone used everyone else to spread slanders about. One of the most efficient slanderers was a reporter who managed to uncover a liaison involving Hamilton, who supported Jefferson over Burr because, as he said, he would rather have as president someone who embraced the wrong principles than one who had none. Burr used the slanderer’s talents with some effect against Jefferson. The reporter did not die in his bed full of years. Sometime after the campaign, his lifeless body was dredged out of the Potomac.

Only recently have reporters swooned visibly over tacky campaign tactics.

But the attack on Palin is, to put it in a word, stupid. Not that it is not vicious as well: Palin has been accused of pretending to be pregnant with a Down Syndrome child that was born by her daughter, of pretending to nix the notorious Alaskan bridge to nowhere, of being an earmark queen (she accepted the earmarks before rejecting them), and of lacking the experience one would expect a person to have who is but a heart beat away from the presidency.

Much of this untrue, wildly distorted and dumb.

It is dumb, purely from a strategic point of view, because Obama is running for president -- the beating heart in the White House -- his executive experience is shallower than Palin’s, his foreign policy experience has been acquired through his association with Biden, and he has yet to be interviewed by ABC News's Charlie Gibson who, should the occasion arise, possibly will ask him, somewhat sternly, to summarize the Obama doctrine.

The last president to fashion a presidential doctrine was Harry Truman. Modern presidents have doctrines, many of them, each one neatly tailored to the moment and most of which are conflicting.

And the whole experience shtick is a shame, Obama would be the first to admit. President George Bush, Obama has said in other contexts, has vast experience as a president, and yet his experience leaves much to be desired.

Given the Obama doctrine on the inutility of experience, his attacks on Palin make no sense. He should leave such messy duties to his more experienced vice presidential candidate, barracuda Biden.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Pam on Sarah


The lithesome Pamela Anderson, once star of Baywatch and home made porno films, has ventured into politics. Asked her opinion of Governor of Alaska and Republican Vice President Sarah Palin, Ms. Anderson retorted, “I can't stand her. She can suck it. You can quote me.” Ms. Anderson is something of an authority on sucking.

Lipstick on Your Collar

Democrat presidential candidate Barack Obama should have been able to figure this one out. Even six-year-olds know that lipstick is powerful stuff.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Lieberman and His Enemies


Some in the Democrat Party are continuing their efforts to show their displeasure with Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman, now an independent who is never-the-less a registered Democrat.

Majority Leader of the US Senate Harry Reid, recently batted down a rumor that Lieberman was being ejected from the Democrat caucus. Reid and Lieberman some time ago agreed, largely at Lieberman’s urging, that the now independent senator would refrain from attending Democrat caucuses in which political strategy was being discussed. An ardent supporter of Republican Presidential candidate Sen. John McCain, Lieberman crossed a Rubicon of sorts when he appeared at the Republican Party convention and gave a speech in support of his preferred presidential candidate. The support itself is not surprising: Who wills the end, wills the means, and Lieberman is dissatisfied with his party’s attempts to shove a stick in the spokes of President Bush’s belatedly successful Iraq war policy.

A spokesperson for Reid has called reports in the press that Lieberman was being shown the door “completely untrue.” This is understated; the story was a complete fabrication, an item that leeched out of partisan blog sites into reputable papers, old dead news blown into life by the Lamontistas, a group of progressive sans culottes who would like nothing better than to see Lieberman’s head adorning a guillotine basket. They will never forgive Lieberman for defeating Ned Lamont, their quasi-socialist candidate for state senator.

Enter Audrey Blondin of Litchfield and Myrna Watanabe, both members of the Democrat State Central Committee, who are now circulating a resolution asking the committee to a) censure Lieberman, an independent, and b) seek his resignation as a registered Democrat.

Pointedly, the two have not asked the central committee to demand that Reid strip Lieberman of his committee assignments or boot him out of the caucus because, one supposes, such measures would create political eddies that might damage Democrat prospects in the congress.

The resolution has been endorsed by five of the committee’s 72 members, former state Democrat Party chairman George Jepsen, other anti-Lieberman tub thumpers and activists bloggers.

Chairwoman of the State Democrat Party Nancy DiNardo thinks the resolution is needlessly distracting and “…a waste of energy. We need to be focusing on getting a big win in Connecticut for Sen. Obama and Joe Biden, as well as our congressional candidates.”

Jepsen’s position on the resolution is simply incomprehensible. He supports the resolution to expel Lieberman from the party but has said “we can’t expel him.”

One of the reasons the Democrat State Central Committee can’t revoke Lieberman’s registration in the party with which he, and everyone else, is free to associate is that what state central hath not given, state central cannot take away; registration in a political party, thank God, does not depend upon the whimsy of state politicians, nor should it.

Lieberman has been a burr in Jepsen’s side ever since he challenged Ned Lamont, the party’s nominee for senator, and won in a general election. Jepsen managed Lamont’s failed bid for Lieberman's seat.

The right way for Jepsen and others to express their displeasure with Lieberman is to put pressure on Reid to deprive Lieberman of usufructs that flow from Reid. What Reid hath given Reid can take away. However, this would unnecessarily complicate the lives of other Democrats who depend upon Reid to smooth their way on their life’s journey through the congressional maze. It would also shove a stick in the bicycle wheels of Democrats who aspire to committee assignments more exalted than those presently held by Jepsen and Lamont.

The progressive’s best hope right now is to get rid of Reid and appoint in his place either Senators Chuck Schumer or Chris Dodd, both progressive suck-ups. One other name has surfaced in the grapevine, that of Sen. Hillary Clinton, punctured by Sen. Obama in a hard fought primary but pawing the ground and angling for a way to re-inflate herself for another presidential run.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Paglia on Palin, Friendly Fire For Feminists


Camille Paglia, who writes for Salon magazine, is a trifle bristly – part of her charm. She is to feminism what Lewis and Clark were to the great Northwest, for there is more to feminism than meets the eye of many establishment feminists.

In her most recent piece in Salon, “Fresh Blood for the Vampire,” Paglia, North America’s Oriana Fallaci and a self described “dissident feminist”, takes aim at the outrageous attacks on Republican Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin:

Over the Labor Day weekend, with most of the big enchiladas of the major media on vacation, the vacuum was filled with a hallucinatory hurricane in the leftist blogosphere, which unleashed a grotesquely lurid series of allegations, fantasies, half-truths and outright lies about Palin. What a tacky low in American politics -- which has already caused a backlash that could damage Obama's campaign. When liberals come off as childish, raving loonies, the right wing gains. I am still waiting for substantive evidence that Sarah Palin is a dangerous extremist. I am perfectly willing to be convinced, but right now, she seems to be merely an optimistic pragmatist like Ronald Reagan, someone who pays lip service to religious piety without being in the least wedded to it. I don't see her arrival as portending the end of civil liberties or life as we know it...

It is certainly premature to predict how the Palin saga will go. I may not agree a jot with her about basic principles, but I have immensely enjoyed Palin's boffo performances at her debut and at the Republican convention, where she astonishingly dealt with multiple technical malfunctions without missing a beat. A feminism that cannot admire the bravura under high pressure of the first woman governor of a frontier state isn't worth a warm bucket of spit...

The witch-trial hysteria of the past two incendiary weeks unfortunately reveals a disturbing trend in the Democratic Party, which has worsened over the past decade. Democrats are quick to attack the religiosity of Republicans, but Democratic ideology itself seems to have become a secular substitute religion. Since when did Democrats become so judgmental and intolerant? Conservatives are demonized, with the universe polarized into a Manichaean battle of us versus them, good versus evil. Democrats are clinging to pat group opinions as if they were inflexible moral absolutes. The party is in peril if it cannot observe and listen and adapt to changing social circumstances...

The gigantic, instantaneous coast-to-coast rage directed at Sarah Palin when she was identified as pro-life was, I submit, a psychological response by loyal liberals who on some level do not want to open themselves to deep questioning about abortion and its human consequences. I have written about the eerie silence that fell over campus audiences in the early 1990s when I raised this issue on my book tours. At such moments, everyone in the hall seemed to feel the uneasy conscience of feminism. Naomi Wolf later bravely tried to address this same subject but seems to have given up in the face of the resistance she encountered.

If Sarah Palin tries to intrude her conservative Christian values into secular government, then she must be opposed and stopped. But she has every right to express her views and to argue for society's acceptance of the high principle of the sanctity of human life. If McCain wins the White House and then drops dead, a President Palin would have the power to appoint conservative judges to the Supreme Court, but she could not control their rulings.

It is nonsensical and counterproductive for Democrats to imagine that pro-life values can be defeated by maliciously destroying their proponents. And it is equally foolish to expect that feminism must for all time be inextricably wed to the pro-choice agenda. There is plenty of room in modern thought for a pro-life feminism -- one in fact that would have far more appeal to third-world cultures where motherhood is still honored and where the Western model of the hard-driving, self-absorbed career woman is less admired.

But the one fundamental precept that Democrats must stand for is independent thought and speech. When they become baying bloodhounds of rigid dogma, Democrats have committed political suicide.

What concerns Paglia most is the calcification of modern thought, instantly old before its day, and the cataracts that have formed on the eyes of traditional feminists. The backward looking gaze of such as Gloria Steinum, a frequent target of Paglia’s, simply prevent motion forward; and feminism must continually be enlarged by fresh experience or wither and die.

This is writer whom no one can accuse of being friendly to Republican presidential nominee John McCain, described variously in Paglia’s piece as “…that hoary, barnacle-encrusted tub that many Democrats like me had thought was full of holes and swirling to its doom in the inky depths of Republican incoherence and fratricide. Gee whilikers, the McCain vampire just won't die! Hit him with a hammer, and he explodes like a jellyfish into a hundred hungry pieces.”

But, reaching for a descriptive analysis of the essential character of Governor of Alaska Palin, Paglia turns to an obituary written about Abigail Becker in 1905:

Here's another example of the physical fortitude and indomitable spirit that Palin as an Alaskan sportswoman seems to represent right now. Last year, Toronto's Globe and Mail reprinted this remarkable obituary from 1905:

“Abigail Becker

“Farmer and homemaker born in Frontenac County, Upper Canada, on March 14, 1830

“A tall, handsome woman 'who feared God greatly and the living or dead not at all,' she married a widower with six children and settled in a trapper's cabin on Long Point, Lake Erie. On Nov. 23, 1854, with her husband away, she single-handedly rescued the crew of the schooner Conductor of Buffalo, which had run aground in a storm. The crew had clung to the frozen rigging all night, not daring to enter the raging surf. In the early morning, she waded chin-high into the water (she could not swim) and helped seven men reach shore. She was awarded medals for heroism and received $350 collected by the people of Buffalo, plus a handwritten letter from Queen Victoria that was accompanied by £50, all of which went toward buying a farm. She lost her husband to a storm, raised 17 children alone and died at Walsingham Centre, Ont.'

Frontier women were far bolder and hardier than today's pampered, petulant bourgeois feminists, always looking to blame their complaints about life on someone else.

“But what of Palin's pro-life stand? Creationism taught in schools? Book banning? Gay conversions? The Iraq war as God's plan? Zionism as a prelude to the apocalypse? We'll see how these big issues shake out. Right now, I don't believe much of what I read or hear about Palin in the media. To automatically assume that she is a religious fanatic who has embraced the most extreme ideas of her local church is exactly the kind of careless reasoning that has been unjustly applied to Barack Obama, whom the right wing is still trying to tar with the fulminating anti-American sermons of his longtime preacher, Jeremiah Wright.

“The witch-trial hysteria of the past two incendiary weeks unfortunately reveals a disturbing trend in the Democratic Party, which has worsened over the past decade. Democrats are quick to attack the religiosity of Republicans, but Democratic ideology itself seems to have become a secular substitute religion. Since when did Democrats become so judgmental and intolerant? Conservatives are demonized, with the universe polarized into a Manichaean battle of us versus them, good versus evil. Democrats are clinging to pat group opinions as if they were inflexible moral absolutes. The party is in peril if it cannot observe and listen and adapt to changing social circumstances.”
So does the truth dribble out of our timid journalism, in tiny, little, obscure freshets – along with oceans of venom.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Spanking Fannie

"Depend on it, sir: Nothing so concentrates the mind like the prospect of being hanged in a fortnight." – Samuel Johnson

Nothing yet from Dodd on spanking Fannie.

In the business world, the prospect of failure has precisely the same effect. In a failure free environment, we can forgive ourselves everything. Failure never touched the souls of the nincompoops responsible for the home financing fiasco because they always knew deep in their bones that, if they failed, their generous Uncle Sam would come to their rescue and pick up their tab.

And that is exactly what has happened with Freddie Mac and Fannie May.

The so called “rescue” of these frauds by the federal government is itself defective because there is no failure component in the rescue effort, no element of fear that would restrain future frauds from following the same path to taxpayer perdition. Every single governmental program should be blessed with a fear factor.

The chief problem with government and quasi-government programs is that their administrators need never fear the prospect of being hanged in a fortnight. The new Freddie and Fannie Ponzi scheme is to be built on the same platform, with the same shoddy construction materials by the same administrators as the old crew. The truth is: Freddie and Fannie have failed – spectacularly -- in all but the consequences of failure.

But have no fear, according to the chief political writer for the Hartford Courant, soon plan to examine “the issue.”

What issue?



The federal government has now taken over Fannie and Freddie; which is to say, the foxes that have caused this mess, including the US Congress, are using the assets of the chickens (i.e. taxpayers) to pay for their bungling.

Dodd will not be examining that issue because, according to the Courant, “Dodd didn't actually say he opposed the government takeover of the mortgage giants. But he cast suspicion on the administration's intentions and timing. He also suggested Paulson misled him and others when he had said he didn't intend to take advantage of the Treasury Department's recently won abilities to buy into the mortgage companies.”

Apparently, the feds didn’t give the chairman of the banking committee a heads-up on the takeover.

That’s the issue.

How precious!

Unsliming Sarah

In a piece called “Sliming Palin,” Fact Check corrects some of the more odious lies that have been spread around the internet. Everyone who loves the truth should take notice.

"Palin did not cut funding for special needs education in Alaska by 62 percent. She didn’t cut it at all. In fact, she tripled per-pupil funding over just three years.

"She did not demand that books be banned from the Wasilla library. Some of the books on a widely circulated list were not even in print at the time. The librarian has said Palin asked a "What if?" question, but the librarian continued in her job through most of Palin's first term.

"She was never a member of the Alaskan Independence Party, a group that wants Alaskans to vote on whether they wish to secede from the United States. She’s been registered as a Republican since May 1982.

"Palin never endorsed or supported Pat Buchanan for president. She once wore a Buchanan button as a "courtesy" when he visited Wasilla, but shortly afterward she was appointed to co-chair of the campaign of Steve Forbes in the state.

"Palin has not pushed for teaching creationism in Alaska's schools. She has said that students should be allowed to "debate both sides" of the evolution question, but she also said creationism "doesn't have to be part of the curriculum."


Some of the false claims about Palin were retailed on the DailyKos site by none other than Himes’ new campaign chief, Dana Houle, (AKA, DHinMI) from the left wing DailyKos.

Friday, September 05, 2008

The Scandal Front, So Far


Governor of Alaska and Republican Vice President nominee Sarah Palin’s daughter is pregnant and unmarried.

True. She and the father of the child expect to be enjoying wedded bliss in the near future.

Mrs. Palin’s unaborted Down Syndrome baby was actually her daughter’s baby.

Not true. This is medically impossible since the daughter is pregnant with her future husband’s baby. In a similar case, one of the reasons why John Edwards, once considered by Sen. Barack Obama as a Vice Presidential possibility, was not able to marry the woman he putatively impregnated was because he was already married to his cancer stricken wife. Otherwise, like Mrs. Palin's future son-in-law, he would have done the honorable thing and married the mother of his reputed child, if it was indeed his child. Determining the parentage of the child has been made difficult because while Edwards, who claims he is not the father, boasted he would be willing to take a DNA test to validate his claim, the woman he may have impregnated has refused to allow such a test.

Sarah Palin shoots Moose.

True. One report has her waking at four thirty in the morning to go Moose hunting with her father. Apparently, this is how daughters bond with their dads in Alaska.

Todd Palin was cited for drunken driving.

True, twenty years ago, during his wine and roses period.

Todd Palin, Mrs. Palin’s husband, has had an affair.

Todd Palin has an affair.

No one has stuck this one to the post yet. The “details,” reported on such partisan blogs as MyLeftNutmeg, are sketchy. Nor do we know whether the alleged affair, if consummated, was pre or post-marital. The country is awaiting word from the same authoritative newspaper, The National Inquirer, that broke the John Edward’s scandal.

"Another incredible allegation emerging from the family war is that Palin, a mother of five, had an affair with a former business associate of her fisherman husband, Todd."

According to the Inquirer: “'Todd discovered the affair and quickly dissolved his friendship and his business associations with the guy,' charges an enemy.’ Many people in Alaska are talking about the rumor and say Todd swept it under the rug.'"

The rumor hinges on a suspicion that court papers the business associate wanted to conceal contained data confirming the alleged affair. The papers recently were ordered unsealed by a court, and Palin’s name is not mentioned in them; not only is there no smoke in the gun, there is no gun.

The Inquirer has not revealed its source or identified "the enemy." Nor has the newspaper claimed to have verified the enemy's information.

Mrs. Palin’s enemies, who are legion, popped out of the bush a nanosecond after McCain tapped her for the VP position.

Mrs. Palin will not appear on the Oprah Winfrey show.

It’s somewhat up in the air, despite Miss Oprah’s strong assertion that Mrs. Palin will not appear on her show. The Drudge report, which several years ago broke the story of the now notorious “semen stained dress” once worn by Monica Lewinski and stained by then President Bill Clinton, happily married at the time to Mrs. Hillary Clinton, has pointed to a “quarrel” among the staff of Ms. Winfrey’s show, some of whom think Ms. Winfrey should extend an invitation to Mrs. Palin, since the show has twice featured Ms. Winfrey’s favorite presidential candidate, Mr. Obama. Ms. Winfrey has said there were no such discussions, but she would be willing to generously extend an invitation to Ms. Palin after the election.

As a part of her recent "Stickey and Sweet" tour, Madonna is comparing Mr. Obama to Mr. Mahatma Ghandi and Mr. McCain to Mr. Aldolf Hitler. "Didn’t Madonna already do this in her 'American Life' video?" commented Celebitchy, a site apparently devoted to bitchy celebrities. "At least she’s not hanging herself on a cross or making fun of the church this time around. Blasphemy is so 1989, yet she threw some into her Confessions tour for lack of imagination."

True. It's always fatal for faddists such as Madonna to repeat themselves. It's a sure sign they are going stale. But some people think Madonna's politicking is a diversionary tactic to deflect attention from her brother’s tell-all book. Her brother, who is gay, has felt the whips and scorns of his brother-in-law’s homophobia and felt compelled to strike back in an unauthorized (read: non-worshipful) biography of his notorious sister. Madonna, like all good performance artist, has been priming the “notorious” pump pretty much forever, but at 50 the number of rubes you have not insulted begins to diminish in proportion to your success. After McCain (AKA Hitler) what ripe target remains? And, at 50, can she summon the proper resentment and indignation? Some think she is running out of spite. But, then again, her brother’s literary efforts may provide a fill-up for her – if only he were not gay.

Is Oprah Biased?

"She's being two-faced," said pediatrician Dr. Cindy Grossman-Green of Oprah Winfrey. “She initially had Obama on her show, but now that she's decided [to support him] she won't have any other political candidates on."

Is Madonna biased?

A wild guess would be "Yes."

Ms. Vs Mrs.

Throughout his report in The New York Times, Patrick Healy refers to Mrs. Palin, the mother of five married to “the First Dude,” as Ms. Palin, while the wife of former president Bill Clinton, formerly “Hillary Rodham,” is Mrs. Clinton.

"Friends of Mrs. Clinton, meanwhile, say she is the Obama campaign’s greatest weapon in pointing out Democrats’ differences with Ms. Palin and Mr. McCain."

Sup’with that?

Sen. Barack Obama is referred to throughout as “Mr.”

Ms. Healy expects a catfight among Ms. Palin and Mrs. Clinton.

Bring it on.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Sarah the Moose Hunter



The Democrats approached the Republican convention in their usual way, full of a deceptive self confidence. After all, their party had just concluded a convention that would have made Nero blush. The stadium in which Democrat presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama accepted the nomination of his party dwarfed the ancient Roman coliseum several times over, nor were fireworks available to the Romans at the Circus Maximus.

Democrats have a very attractive presidential candidate in Mr. Obama, who had just put away Sen. Hillary Clinton in a bruising primary. Prior to the ascendancy of Mr. Obama, the Clintons, Hillary and Bill, were the face of the Democrat Party. Most pundits agreed that Mr. Obama had conducted a very shrewd campaign from which he emerged as an agent of change and the Main Stream Media’s Main Man. Leftist bloggers also were solidly in his corner. His oratory sent chills up the quivering leg of longtime political commentator Chris Mathews. News reports were glowing. Mr. Obama graciously complimented Mrs. Clinton after he had stomped her into the ground; Mrs. Clinton graciously accepted the stomping.

It may have been difficult under these circumstances for Democrats not to feel they already had vanquished the Republican opponents around whose necks they had so successfully hung the albatross of an unpopular Republican president whose favorability ratings were only slightly higher than the plummeting favorability ratings of the Democrat controlled congress.

Clearly, after the Democrat convention, happy days were here again. Things were looking up. In the post-Katrina period, a few hurricanes were on their way to re-wreck New Orleans, causing filmographer Michael Moore to beam with pleasure that the anticipated flooding surly meant there was a Democrat God in heaven. Anarchists assaulted a 87 year-old wheelchair bound Connecticut Republican outside the convention.

The day after Governor of Alaska Sandra Palin accepted the Republican nomination for Vice President, US Reps. Rosa DeLauro, John Larson and other true bluers appeared in a major newspaper to denounce Independent Sen. Joe Lieberman for having wandered into enemy territory, the second such story to appear in the paper on the subject of Lieberman’s defection.

That was the general lay of the political land prior to the foreshortened Republican convention.

The Republicans, of course, admired Lieberman’s independent spirit. He had all the right enemies. It was to Lieberman’s credit that he did not wish to see Israel disappear in a mushroom cloud created by that end-of-times mullah puppet, Iranian President Mamoud Amadinijad, who takes orders from Osama bin Ladin’s God.

Leftist bloggers often operate on the assumption that Israel, like Lieberman, is dispensable, and they resent a Jew who defends that besieged democracy. Lieberman is as programmatic a Democrat as is likely to be found anywhere, but his support of Israel is the hump on his back. The man certainly has the courage to put his job where his mouth is.

Americans like courage and independence. So, apparently, does Mrs. Palin. In this sad world, you are what you like; those who like Republicans are Republicans; those who like Democrats are Democrats. The independents may be a bit leery at voting for a charismatic Democrat who has less executive experience than Mrs. Palin. When a Democrat strays into the Republican camp, the hatchets come out. When a Republican – like former Governor and Sen. Lowell Weicker – strays into the Democrat camp and begins to fraternize with the enemy, the plaudits come out. Weicker is a Maverick; Sen. John McCain, who has also fraternized with the enemy, is a goose that needs cooking.

And Palin?

Her teleprompter went kaput on the most important speech of her life. No problem. Someone fetched out of an aide's pocket a rumpled, discarded copy of the speech, which was pressed under a book. And it was that speech, part of which was improvised – “What’s the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull? The lipstick – that Mrs. Palin read to a wildly enthusiastic convention.

Everybody has seriously underestimated this woman. That too is nothing new under the sun. People have been underestimating women ever since Eve bit the apple.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Anatomy of a Rumor: Down Syndrome and the Palins

Out of a sense of decency, Sen. Barack Obama has said that the children of politicians should not be hauled into the bloody political ring, even when they embarrass their parents, as children will sometimes do. It is a solid rule to follow: The sins of the children, provided they have reached the age of reason, should not be visited upon their parents – even when their parents are politicians.

These glad tidings have not reached some of Obama’s supporters.

Immediately after Sen. John McCain announced that he had chosen Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin to be his Vice President on the Republican Party ticket, rumors began to fly. Progressive blog sites not kindly disposed to Republicans – DailyKos, www.barackoblogger.com, The Huffington Post, some in the mainstream media and their local echo chambers – sniffed out a rumor, since shown to be false, that the mother of Mrs. Palin’s newborn Down Syndrome child was her daughter.

No self respecting journalist would print such “news” on such slender evidence as was available at the time the rumor was launched by progressive take-no-enemy bloggers.

Pictures of Mrs. Palin’s daughter showing a possible pregnancy bump were brought forward to ignite the rumor. Pictures of Mrs. Palin were shown that did not suggest she was pregnant. That was the extent of the evidence upon which the rumor mongers built their case that the Down Syndrome child was conceived and born by Mrs. Palin’s daughter and not, as claimed, by Mrs. Palin. Of such wisps of smoke are hangman’s nooses woven.

No matter, the speculators were in full throttle days after the Republican VP candidate had appeared with Sen. McCain.

In pursuit of the false rumor, the rumor mongers bumped at last into a fact. This is the way it usually happens with those who wish to braid a rope of rumors with which they may hang their enemies.

In order to rebut rumors that Mrs. Palin falsely claimed to have born a child to protect her daughter, Mrs. Palin announced that her daughter – the self same daughter who was supposed to have delivered the Downs Syndrome child – is five months pregnant, thereby delighting Mrs. Palin’s enemies. Mrs. Palin’s enemies were not delighted because their suspicions about the birth were exploded when it was announced that Mrs. Palin’s daughter was pregnant. They did not say to each other, “Good thing that vicious rumor, that insubstantial wisp of smoke, has now dissipated.

Something else tickled them.

Over the weekend, Michael Moore, the documentarian, was full of joy at the prospect of Hurricane Gustav wrecking havoc on New Orleans because this would demonstrate that there is a God in Heaven who feels about Republicans, then having their convention near the upper Mississippi, as he does. But Moore’s joy was nothing compared to the hearts that swelled with schadenfreude at the news that Mrs. Palin’s daughter was having a baby out of wedlock.

Why this joy?

Mrs. Palin is a supporter of abstinence as a means of birth control, and her daughter’s out of wedlock birth demonstrates beyond a doubt that abstinence, say the progressives, “does not work.”

Well now, if one does not practice abstinence, one cannot enjoy the fruits of abstinence. That seems simple enough. It’s quite obvious to anyone but the rope braiders that if a person enrolled in an abstinence program does not abstain from sex, they will incur the risks of pregnancy. Under such circumstances, it is not the program that has failed but the person who has not abstained that has failed.

The same would hold true in any birth control program. We do not say of those who have failed to use birth control methods when available that they have become pregnant because the methods “do not work.” They work when they are used and do not work when they are not used. In the same way, abstinence works when it is practiced, and it does not work when it is not practiced. The user failure rate for abstinence is, according to one reliable study, between 26 and 86 percent, somewhat higher but not significantly different than than the condom user failure rate falling between 12 and 70 percent. Abstinence is more complex and involves “negotiating skills” that are often poorly taught.

The “happy ending” to the Palin story is that the baby will live in a traditional setting with married parents. And that beats abortion, the real measure of failure in birth control processes..

Someone should tell the schadenfreuders.