Thursday, August 31, 2006

The End Of The Affair

In his masterful style, Christopher Hitchens in Slate Magazine [“Plame Out: The ridiculous end to the scandal that distracted Washington”] bids goodbye to the farcical Valerie Plame/Joe Wilson fandango, concluding that pretty nearly everyone – but most especially the lemming media – got it wrong. It was not the pro-Iraq war Bushies – Rove, Cheney et al -- that outed the CIA intelligence analyst. The outing came from the camp of the dubious -- Colin Powell and Richard Armitage.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Soros the Sugardady

In an interview with Front Page Magazine, Richard Poe looks under George Soros' skirts and finds much to his disliking. Soros is the deep-pocketed amature philosopher who has financed left leaning blogs such as and DailyKos, sites occassionaly mentioned on this blog.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Rove, Cheney innocent; Powell, Armitage guilty

It seems like only yesterday that special prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald was homing in on Karl Rove. Top vice presidential aide I. Lewis Libby, second in command to Vice President Dick Cheney, was said to have leaked the name of Valerie Plame to a reporter and blown her CIA cover, apparently in retaliation for a piece written in the Wall Street Journal by her husband, Joe Wilson, that questioned President Bush’s rational for prosecuting a war in Iraq.

Plame was a CIA analyst and not an undercover agent at the time her name was released. But this made no difference. Hot on the chase and anxious to bag Cheney and Rove, the mainstream media devoted an ocean of ink to the subject, and it was widely speculated that Libby was executing a dirty trick on the Wilsons on orders from Rove, the Svengalli of the Bush administration.

It all turned out to be a lot of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

According to recent more accurate reports in the New York Times, it was not Libby, but rather Richard Armitage, who was the leaker. Armitage, former deputy Secretary of State, was the second in command to former Secretary of State Colin Powell. Armitage inadvertently blew Plame’s CIA non-undercover work to Robert Novak during a chit-chat session, and Fitzgerald knew all about it very early on in his investigation. Armitage also spilled the beans to famed Washington Post writer Bob Woodward, of Watergate fame, before his conversation with Novak.

So then, why did Fitzgerald target Libby rather than Armitage and Novack rather than Woodward? And isn’t the mainstream press just a wee bit distressed at having been manipulated by anti-Rove agents and sources?

The answers to these questions will not be forthcoming anytime soon. The quarry has been bagged, and who cares if Fitzgerald screwed up the works.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

The Babes in Toyland Meet the Swamp Fox

Let’s play Connect The Dots.

Dot 1: Sen. Hillary Clinton, wife and co-president of ex-President Bill Clinton plans to run for president on the Democrat Party ticket sometime in the near future, some think as early as 2008, when current President George Bush will retire to Crawford, Texas and Cindy Sheehan will move her “Bring The Troops Home Now!” show to, some think, Chappaqua, New York, the present residence of the Clintons.

Dot 2: Hillary Clinton was visited recently by Ned Lamont, the Connecticut giant killer who, with a little help from his friends, recently bested Lieberman in a primary and has now become the nominee of his party for the U.S. Senate. Lamont’s friends include a pirate ship of bloggers -- among them Marcos Zuniga Moulitsas, captain of the good ship DailyKos – who hate, bloody hate, anyone associated with the Democrat Leadership Council, a bunch of candy-ass wimps and wimpettes who just don’t know what it means to be a Democrat.

Dot 3: Bill Clinton, Hillary’s husband, was formally associated with the DLC, as was Lieberman. DLC’ers believe their party had been captured by fever swamp progressives, most of whom post at DailyKos and other progressive sound-off boards. Bill Clinton was the Moses who led his party out of the arid wastelands of progressivism to the Promised Land. Hillary is not formally associated, except by marriage, to the DLC.

Dot 3: Ned Lamont (the progressive’s new Mohammed) went to the mountain; the mountain (Hillary of Chappaqua) did not go to Mohammed.

Dot 4: And there at Chappaqua, the two banged heads and discussed strategy. According to an AP report, Clinton and Lamont were joined at the meeting by Hillary aide Howard “Wolfson, Lamont campaign manager Tom Swan, and Lamont's wife, Annie. Clinton and Lamont had never met before, Wolfson said.”

Dot 5: Top Lamont aide Tom Swan, a loner from the Connecticut Citizens Action Group, said, “It was clear that Sen. Clinton and her team want to be helpful to Ned's election in November.” And to this end, the Clinton Campaign promised to contribute money and Wolfson to the Lamont campaign.

Connecting all the dots, we arrive at the following conclusion: Hillary is a Swamp Fox; Ned and Swan are Babes in Toyland; and Wolfson is a Hillary imbed – you know, a spy.

Now, why would a Clinton aide want to spy – helpfully, of course – on the Lamont campaign? Is there some backdoor plot here to help or further destroy Lieberman? Old political associations die hard and, despite the caterwauling from the Lamontites, it is not at all certain that Lieberman is “Loserman.” Or is Clinton’s “lend an aide” program an insurance policy that will make less likely a stiff opposition from Lamont’s national backers –an odd brew of feverish progressive bloggers, peace at any price anti-war mongers and stragglers from the camp of the permanently disaffected -- should Hillary decide to run for president on the Democrat ticket it 2008?

In Connecticut, the spokeman for the camp of the disaffected appears to be newly hired Hartford Courant columnist Paul Bass, who recently has written a eulogy for mainstream political writers and old line newspapers, soon to be supplanted by people like him.

Bass, of course, is right in supposing that political parties are dry branches. State parties especially have suffered the death of a thousand reformist cuts. Blogsters now regularly perform functions once associated with political parties; raising money for candidates, launching attacks on opponents and assisting neophyte candidates with staffing and political scripts. But it is only a matter of time before the reforms that have crippled parties reach the blogosphere, putting out of business money suppliers like George Soros, who has financed such concerns as DailyKos and – at which point Hillary, among others, will be able to breathe a sigh of relief and re-rent Wolfson from the Lamont campaign.

Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow, or Islam and the Decline of the West

Democrat senatorial nominee Ned Lamont’s campaign was stretching the truth a bit – and also taking advantage of a situation to embarrass his opponent, Democrat Senator Joe Lieberman – when campaign manager George Jepsen, citing “a dramatic shift in course,” supposed that Lieberman would denounce Rep. Chris Shays for having adopted a position on the war in Iraq similar to Lamont’s, which may be described charitably as an open-ended withdrawal.

Returning from his 14th trip to Iraq, Shays spoke to a reporter from the plane and said, “"I believe if we left Iraq immediately or prematurely, it would result in just what Joe Lieberman sees: an all-out civil war, fuel prices off the scale. Of greatest concern, ultimately, would be that Islamist terrorists would have won. It would make Iran the new power in the gulf. That can't be allowed to happen."

Shays' talks with Iraqi officials have led him to conclude that, “"The progress simply stopped. The Iraqis lack the political will to be on a time frame to get this done. They want to act in terms of years and we need them to act in terms of months."

Therefore, Shays intends, according to one report, to devise “goals and realistic deadlines that will prod the Iraqis to establish internal security forces and open talks to end sectarian violence - and also reassure the Iraqis that the U.S. will not leave prematurely.”

The future of Iraq will be determined by American resolve; and, as Iraq goes, so goes the entire Middle East – including Israel. American resolve is not likely to hold up very much longer against the barrage of opposition directed against it, primarily by a reinvigorated radical Islamic fundamentalism whose sponsors are Syria, Iran, China and Russia. The battering at home by the usual suspects – Hollywood, the New York Times, bloggers intent on driving Lieberman from the Democrat Party and Lowell Weicker, among a host of others -- has also taken its toll. The rubble in New York is a distant memory, even for those who sit on the city’s principle newspaper. An American who has made his home in Saudi Arabia for a few decades tells me that the United States very likely could not have won World War II without the active assistance of Hollywood and the mainstream press in the United States. He’s betting on the forces of darkness.

If the attempt to plant the seeds of democracy in the Middle East fails, as seems likely, Iraq will be partitioned by its traditional enemies. For all practical purposes, the Kurds, who have suffered so much under Saddam Hussein, will find themselves pressed between Turkey and Iran, whose messianic leader, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, will have absorbed Iran’s traditional enemies in Iraq. That part of Iraq now sandwiched between the Kurds in the north and a relatively free south will become a part of an expanding Iran. An emboldened Syria and Iran will then direct their combined attention to a weakened and abandoned Israel, a mere fly-spec of democratic resistance to the new Islamic fundamentalist hegemon in the Middle East. The new hegemon, animated by Islamic fundamentalism, quickly will become a united caliphate whose drawn scimitar will be plunged into the breast of a disunited Europe.

That is the future that lies behind our veiled politics.

Shay’s timeline may be viewed as a perhaps futile attempt to convince Iraqi officials and those who have devoted their political lives here in the United States to thinking about tomorrow that tomorrow is just around the corner: It will soon be here.

What the moment needs is a Churchill. What it has is a Bush, a Clinton, a Shays, a Lieberman, a Lamont, a burgeoning anti-war movement – and newspapers that have steadfastly failed in their mission of bringing the truth to their reader.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

The Check Is In The Mail

The Hartford Advocate reports that the Lamont campaign may be gay-averse at worse and at best simply rude.

Kevin Brookman, vice president of Hartford’s Connecticut Pride Center, a gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people organization, was rudely rebuffed by staff people working for Democrat Party nominee for the U.S. senate Ned Lamont.

When Brookman attempted to collect a promised contribution from Lamont for Hartford’s Connecticut Pride Festival, he was met with a torrent of verbal abuse from top Lamont campaign staffer John Murphy, once Tom Swan’s deputy at Connecticut Citizens Action Group. Swan is Lamont’s campaign manager.

According to the Advocate:

Brookman said when he recently tried to secure a promised donation from Lamont’s campaign, he was stunned by the cursing and disrespect he received from a campaign staffer.

Brookman is organizing the Connecticut Pride Festival, which is expected to draw at least 10,000 people to downtown Hartford on Sept. 9. (He’s also a neighborhood activist and a member of Hartford’s Republican Town Committee.) Festival organizers solicited potential donors to buy advertisements in the festival guide, and Brookman said both the Lamont and Lieberman campaigns pledged to contribute.

Lieberman’s campaign paid for its ad, but Brookman said Lamont’s people subsequently decided not to contribute. Brookman said he tried again, leaving a message with the campaign. Sitting in his office with other Pride Festival organizers a couple weeks ago, he received a call back and put it on his speaker phone. It was top Lamont staffer John Murphy, who was Swan’s deputy at CCAG and joined the campaign along with him.

According to Brookman’s account, Murphy tore into him, saying, “Who the f**k do you think you are?” and continuing in a similarly off-color vein. When he mentioned he had personally given an information packet to Lamont, who promised to buy an ad, Murphy said, “Why the f**k would you give it to the candidate?” Finally, Murphy said, “We’ll take the f**king ad,” according to Brookman.

“He was using the F-word as every other word,” said Daniel Halle, a festival coordinator who was in the room. Worse than the cursing, however, was the campaign’s broken promise to support the festival, he said. “Do we want someone as a senator who can’t even stick with getting an ad?” Brookman said, “This is the biggest single event in the gay community, and they’re blowing it off.” The organizers have yet to receive a check from the Lamont campaign, they said.

It is not obvious from a reading of the Advocate story whether Murphy and Swan, described elsewhere in the story as “foul-mouthed,” are inept, rude, stingy, inflated with self importance or infected with the anti-gay virus.

The story also suggests that the insensitive iconography of the campaign should be reconfigured.

A recent Hartford Advocate letter-writer, identified as K. Morris of West Hartford, described a Lamont campaign DVD that contrasted a loving image of Lieberman and President Bush to a picture of Lamont and his wife. “His DVD cover communicates that gay love is somehow bad, while his marriage to his wife is good by comparison,” Morris wrote. “As a gay male, I find this rather insulting. He may want to rethink his cover if he wants to secure any LGBT support.”

There is some justice to these complaints. The raving anti-gay beast is a thinned skinned animal that needs only the slighted provocation to pounce, and the messaging of the Lamont campaign, possibly unintentional, certainly can be interpreted by some as permission and a goad. Part of the appeal of the “The Kiss,” a paper mache rebuke in the form of two puppet heads representing Bush and Lieberman in an intimate pose, lies in its subtle suggestion that the two presumptive Iraq warriors they represent may be less macho than … well, Lamont campaign workers who regularly beat their breasts loudly on blogs and do not scruple to show Lieberman in blackface.

It may be time to mothball all this, including “The Kiss,” and put on some manners that Mom will be comfortable with.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Answer the Question

According to a Hartford newspaper, this is the kind of remark, made by Senator Joe Lieberman on a “Face the Nation” broadcast, that has “infuriated” a lot of his critics: “"If we leave precipitously - if we say we're going on X day, everybody's getting out - as bad as things are, they will get worse. There will be an all-out civil war in Iraq. Iran will surge in to control large parts of that country. There will be a wider regional war. And al-Qaida and similar radical Islamist terrorists will use Iraq as a safe haven from which to attack us and others."

Some of Lieberman’s hot-headed critics are easily infuriated. Now, the first thing we should notice about the infuriating remark is that it is predictive rather than descriptive. Lieberman is saying “If A happens, B, C, and D will follow.

There are only two ways to answer a prediction: You may wait until an event happens and then view the consequences to see if the prediction is true; or you may use your intelligence to reason your way to a probable prediction.

The wait-and-see method is infallible. But it is not a safe or advisable method if the consequences are severe, requiring preventative or compensatory action the part of those who will likely suffer the consequences.

If the meteorologist tells me there is a hurricane on its way, I may wait patiently in my bedroom slippers to see whether his prediction is accurate. But if the hurricane is of Katrina-like proportions, I had better take precautions. The possibility that the United States may be repeatedly attacked by invigorated terrorists is a hurricane of devastating proportions. One need only trace the consequences of 9/11 on the airline industry to realize this. The consequences of an invigorated radical Islam in the mid-East and Europe may be even more catastrophic.

Following Lieberman’s remarks on “Face the Nation,” the “Lamont campaign” issued the following statement: Lieberman "continued to demonstrate that he is a desperate, flailing, career politician who will say anything to cling to power." Separately, all these statement may be true. Lieberman may indeed be flailing and desperate, though a recent 10 point lead in polls is some surety against desperation. It is a truism to say that incumbents wish to “cling to power,” just as it is a truism to say that insurgent politicians wish to “seize power.” But this rhetorical caterwauling gets us nowhere fast, because these truisms do not answer the predictions.

Way back in June, Lieberman said, “"As others have said before me, the war in Iraq, to overthrow Saddam Hussein, may have been a war of choice; it is now a war of necessity. We must win it. Why? Because the consequences of an American retreat and defeat there would be terrible for the safety and security of the American people here at home whom we have a constitutional responsibility to protect."

Asked to respond to these statement by a reporter, Lamont said, “George Bush, Don Rumsfeld and Joe Lieberman were wrong to get us into the war, wrong in their day-to-day conduct of it and were wrong to take their eye off Osama bin Laden. They are still wrong today as they cling to a failed `stay the course' strategy. Why would we trust them with making any more decisions when they have been wrong every step of the way?"

These statements, considered separately, may be true -- or not. But, taken together, they do not answer the statement made by Lieberman that, however it began or was or prosecuted, the Iraq war is now a “war of necessity” that “must be won.”

Americans are an intensely practical people. In these circumstances, they want to know what happens “if.” What will happen in Arabia, Europe and the United States if the prosecution of the war in Iraq fails? Lieberman has answered that question. Lamont has not.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Some Stories Just Tell Themselves

Like this one.

Iraqi group uses Michael Moore film to mock Bush

Fri Aug 18, 2006 8:23 AM ET

By Alister Bull

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - An Iraqi militant group has produced an elaborate video of what it said were attacks on U.S. troops, in the latest example of the increasingly sophisticated propaganda war being waged by Iraqi insurgents.

"The Code of Silence" was posted on the Internet by the Rashedeen Army, thought to be a relatively small Sunni group which has produced videos in the past of attacks it claims to have carried out.

At almost an hour in length, it is the longest and most professionally made of recent postings by mainly Sunni militant and insurgent groups fighting the U.S.-backed government.

The U.S. military said earlier this week that recent intelligence indicated al Qaeda in Iraq was refining its strategy by producing propaganda and adding a political base to its violent campaign of suicide bombings.

Lifting scenes from Michael Moore's anti-war film "Fahrenheit 9/11", Rashedeen's narrator taunts President Bush in softly spoken English over graphic images of Humvees being blown up by roadside bombs, and purportedly dead U.S. troops.

It was not possible to verify when the documentary was made or the authenticity of any of the images portrayed by Rashedeen, whose name means Army of the Rightly Guided.

At one point, the documentary cuts to a scene from Moore's 2004 award-winning film where he lobbies on the steps of the U.S. Congress in Washington.

"After all, there are honest and influential guys in America and if Mr Moore can talk to you like that, so can I," the Rashedeen narrator says.

In addition to numerous bomb and rocket attacks, the documentary also shows two militants painstakingly drilling a hole into an old artillery shell, turning it into a homemade bomb and then burying it to create a deadly trap.

"In the good old days of the invasion, this used to be a one-man show. Not any more. Your boys have become smart. They started to ambush us. Today it takes a big unit.

"That's good. It means your boys are on the run all day long, seven days a week. And it is really devastating for them, especially if they are on their third tour and don't have our secret weapon -- patience."

(Additional reporting by Firouz Sedarat in Dubai)

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Mood Swings

There will be time, there will be time
To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet
– The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock by T. S. Elliot

The key to a successful campaign in Connecticut – if you are a Democrat – is to swing left in a primary and right in a general election. Primaries are songs sung to the Democrat choir. One of the reasons Sen. Joe Lieberman did not vigorously defend his principled position on the Iraq war during the primary was because the Democrat choir in Connecticut is unappeasable in its pacifism. What is the point in preaching to a choir of doves if you are a hawk? Lieberman’s opponent, Greenwich millionaire Ned Lamont, tacked left during the primary, and now he intends to move in an opposite direction so that he may capture what some have called “the vital center,” a simmering cauldron of dissident and doubtful voices.

A tantalizing item from the Drudge Report to the effect that Lamont intended to make adjustments to his staff, the better to prepare for a more moderate general campaign, created titters and shivers of delight among conservative bloggers and political commentators. Drudge noted that a news report on the “shake up” would soon be appearing in the New York Times. But in the much anticipated story, the changes outlined by the increasingly liberal, anti-Lieberman paper did not indicate significant shifts in Lamont’s political tectonic plates.

“National Democrats," the Times said, “are providing ideas to his campaign on policy issues and staffing, as well as a steady flow of donations, Lamont aides said.” The general campaign will “require Mr. Lamont, a Greenwich millionaire …to calibrate his own identity as self-described liberal.” And, of course, there is the never ending question of money. “As the newly proclaimed Democratic nominee,” the Times noted, “Mr. Lamont is moving to adopt a general election strategy that attracts more moderate voters, who are crucial to victory in Connecticut elections. He is also seeking at least two experienced fund-raising aides to tap more donors in Connecticut and nationwide, particularly those who are excited by the antiwar message.”

The trick is to acquire new more moderate voters without alienating what has been, until now, Lamont’s political base. Lamont’s newly acquired political friends are eager to lend a hand. “Former President Bill Clinton and Mrs. Clinton,” the Times says, “ have offered to campaign for Mr. Lamont — his aides say the offer will be accepted — and the Lamont campaign is setting up meetings with Mrs. Clinton and Senator Charles E. Schumer of New York, who is chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.”

Ex President Bill Clinton, the father of triangulation and reinvention had little difficulty shifting from the Lieberman to the Lamont camp. A few days before the primary, Clinton was in Connecticut pumping up the candidacy of his old comrade in arms. Both Lieberman and Clinton were past presidents of the Democrat Leadership Council, an organization formed to lure Democrats from the fever swamps of radical liberalism to the vital center of American politics. Early supporters of Lamont -- including DailyKos, a web nest of progressives, George Soros, moneylender to progressive causes, and even Michael Moore -- have pledged to destroy the DLC root and branch.

It is not apparent from Clinton ’s most recent remarks on Lamont that he will be able to lure Lamont’s primary supporters from their fever swamps out into the broad and airy plain of moderate Democrat politics. Nor is it apparent that they would willingly march to a reconfigured piper.

The reconfiguration was present in larval form throughout Lamont’s successful primary venture; it will mature during the general election. The harsh anti-war notes of the primary will be softened – not a bad idea after Hezbollah’s attack on Israel . Lamont’s earlier primary supporters no doubt will be put off by his triangulation and reinvention, but a politician has got to do what a politician has got to do.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Zarella's Friends

Thanks to a decision made by Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, transcripts of usually closed-door proceedings by the ultra secretive Judicial Review Council have been made public. Blumenthal’s decision that the council’s investigatory records must be made public after the council determines it has sufficient evidence to bring charges has opened a small window into the council’s deliberations and findings.

No one yet has asked Blumenthal whether his decision will apply retrospectively to previous Judicial Review Council investigations. In any case, Blumenthal’s decision opens the doors wide to a case involving State Supreme Court intrigue that previously had been bathed in the half-light of secret deliberations – and the resulting disclosures are not pretty.

According to the transcripts of the council’s deliberations, Justice Richard Palmer learned on April 8 from a law clerk’s query that Supreme Court Chief Justice William Sullivan had placed a hold on the publication of a decision that, some believe, might have affected a legislative vote on whether to accept Governor Jodi Rell’s nomination of Peter Zarella as Chief Justice of the court.

On April 10, Palmer told Justice David Borden about the hold, and “sometime thereafter,” according to a news report, Justice Joette Katz “was consulted.” Both Borden and Palmer testified before the council that Zarella denied knowing that there was a publication hold on a ruling that might have affected his nomination, and both testified, according to one report, “that they had no reason to disbelieve him.”

Indeed, there is a good reason justices Borden and Palmer may have thought that Zarella’s protestation that he knew nothing of the hold was true: They didn’t tell him.

On April 20, ten days after justices Borden, Palmer and Katz had consulted with each other, the Supreme Court met and decided on a vote of 3-3 not to refer a complaint of misconduct against Justice Sullivan to the Judicial Review Council. Opposing the complaint were justices Flemming Norcott Jr, Christine Vertefeuille and Zarella; Palmer, Katz and Borden approved the referral.

Borden later filed a compliant by himself. Asked why Palmer and Katz didn’t join him in the complaint, Borden responded, “If we all three did it, it would be piling on, or something like that."

During the council proceedings, Borden was asked why he did not apprise justices other than Palmer and Katz that Sullivan had placed a hold on the publication of a decision that might damage Zarella’s prospects. He said, “We didn’t know what we were going to do. There was the three of us, fairly close friends and colleagues.”

Asked why he did not confront Sullivan immediately on April 10, Borden responded, “We were. I’m being very candid here, we were afraid we would find out what we ultimately found out ... and it took us awhile to get up the courage, the gumption, integrity or whatever to find out about it and do something about it." By “we,” Borden did not mean to include justices Norcott, Vertefeuille or, most importantly, Zarella, who withdrew his nomination after Borden had issued a letter denouncing Sullivan to the legislative committee deciding Zarella’ nomination.

“I take it you had some ambitions to be chief justice some day,” attorney Robert Cooney asked Borden at the Judicial Review Council hearing, to which Borden, now the sitting Chief Justice of Connecticut’s high court, responded, “Oh, I would have liked it. I think ‘ambitions’ might be a bit strong.”

G. Kenneth Bernard, a lawyer and member of the review council, challenged Borden: "I'm failing to see what your letter did to assist the public, other than to quash Justice Zarella's opportunity to become chief justice.”

Said Borden, “I don't think I could have, as a matter of what was right and, frankly, what was practical, sat on that information without informing the legislature… I was in an extraordinary situation and I made the best judgment I could about what I had and what my obligations were."

Borden apparently felt no obligation to tell Zarella on April 10, when he received the information from Palmer, that Sullivan by holding publication of a report potentially damaging to Zarella was pursuing a course that might well – as it did – damage Zarella’s prospects as Rell’s nominee for chief justice.

Let no one speak of ambitions here. Ambitions have no place among honorable men.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Cognative Dissonance on the Left

Count Michael Barone among Sen. Joe Lieberman’s defenders. In a recent column, Barone let loose on head-in- the-sand progressive bloggers by reminding them of the important difference between Neville Chamberlain and Winston Churchill. After Chamberlain had been foxed by Hitler, he willingly gave up the mantle of leadership to Churchill – and supported him:

Chamberlain proceeded to build up Britain's military forces and to embark on a vigorous diplomacy to cabin Hitler in. He realized instantly that he had been, as Winston Churchill was to say in his funeral oration in the House of Commons, "deceived by a wicked man." He prepared to call Churchill, his bitter critic on Munich, into government. Chamberlain's diplomacy ultimately failed: Hitler wanted war too much. But Chamberlain stayed true to his countrymen, yielding his place to Churchill and strenuously supporting him when Britain was in peril.

But the left in the United States seems overcome with cognitive dissonance:

Our Left criticized George W. Bush when The New York Times revealed that the National Security Agency was surveilling telephone calls from al-Qaida suspects overseas to the United States. Now it appears that the United States surveilled the British terrorists, and that they made phone calls to the United States. The Left cried foul when The New York Times revealed that the United States was monitoring money transfers at the SWIFT bank clearinghouse in Brussels. Now it appears that there was monitoring of money transfers by the British terrorists in Pakistan. On Tuesday, the Left was gleeful that it was scoring political points against George W. Bush. On Thursday, it seemed that the supposedly controversial NSA surveillance contributed to savings thousands of lives.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Squirrels Will Be Squirrels

A ticked off squirrel attacked and bit two children in Winter Park Florida. Just curious: Do they have snow there?

The squirrel was captured by a vigilante who plopped a bucket over it and waited two hours for the animal service to show up, incarcerate the thing and perhaps provide it with an animal psychologist.

But they were no-shows, and the squirrel was released in its own custody. Well, wouldn’t you know it, the vicious squirrel, whose country of origin could not be determined, promptly bit a senior citizen and another kid.

At around the same time the squirrel was gnawing on park dwellers, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was palavering with esteemed American journalist Mike Wallace of CBS. The jovial president of Iran expressed some surprise that Wallace was still among the living. Ahmadinejad doesn’t get out much, and American talking heads are not his cup of tea.

Ahmadinejad then tore into President Bush, who apparently did not give proper attention to a treatise the jew hating president of Iran had written and earlier sent to Washington. Actually, other reports indicate that Bush was busy reading The Stranger by Albert Camus when Ahmadinejad’s treatise arrived.

In any case, Ahmadinejad was ticked off. Sounding a bit like Sen. Edward Kennedy, the Iranian president promptly laid into Bush:

Well,(with the letter) I wanted to open a window towards the light for the president so that he can see that one can look on the world through a different perspective. … We are all free to choose. But please give him this message, sir: Those who refuse to accept an invitation will not have a good ending or fate. You see that his approval rating is dropping every day. Hatred vis-à-vis the president is increasing every day around the world. For a ruler, this is the worst message that he could receive. Rulers and heads of government at the end of their office must leave the office holding their heads high.

Coincidentally, Paris Hilton, last week was bitten by her exotic, rainforest kinkajou, proving once again … well, no one is sure what it proves.

To The Republicans in Windsor: Tax Reform For Whom?

The title of this talk is “Property Tax Reform for Whom?” I intend to answer this question, but it might be proper to provide a little background information first.

I began writing for a local paper here some 25 years ago – perhaps more. And after I had produced what the Editorial Page Editor of the paper that launched my column perhaps realized were several “not liberal” (if not conservative) pieces that he gleefully printed, he said to me in the tone of a seasoned advisor offering a cautionary word to a promising columnist, “You know, the state is pretty liberal.” Meaning: You’re not gonna get very far convincing people that they should discard the ideological straight-jackets they’ve been wearing all these years, and probably no one else will print you.”

I really didn’t care. I just wanted to mainline a bit of inoffensive contrarian thought into at least one newspaper, and I’ve persisted in this perversity ever since. But in answer to his remark, I said, “Yeah, sure. I wonder why the state is liberal?” Meaning: Maybe there’s something after all to the “junk in junk out” theory. If the media continues to pump liberal junk into the veins of the populous, the people will continue to behave like liberal junkies.

Let me give you an example of what I mean. In mid June the venerable Hartford Courant issued the following earthshaking proclamation:

June 18, 2006
Next Sunday, The Courant will add another experienced political voice and a new dimension to the Other Opinion page: Bill Curry. His column will appear on this page (sic) Sundays. Curry, a lawyer and a Democrat, served a term as state comptroller, was a state senator and was the Democrats' nominee for governor twice and Congress once. He was an adviser to President Bill Clinton from 1995 to 1997. He lives in Farmington.

Big surprise! The Courant inserts into its stable of liberal reporters and columnists yet another liberal columnist; clearly, this was not intended to be a “man bites dog” announcement since all the commentators at the Courant -- save Lawrence Cohen, who is not on the staff of the paper-- are avowed liberals or, the preferred term these days, “progressives.” Don’t be confused by the terminology: The difference between a liberal and a progressive lies in personal energy; a liberal is a tired progressive.

Actually, the Courant pressed two new liberals to its bosom – Paul Bass, an editor and writer for the New Haven Independent, a blogpaper, and Curry – perhaps to replace the departed Michele Jacklin, who left the Courant to assist Mayor John DeStefano in his gubernatorial ambitions. DeStefano, who has been fraternizing with progressives lately, is a sometime contributor to a progressive blogsite called MyLeftNutmeg. Jacklin must have felt very much at home in the DeStefano’s campaign. No round pegs in square holes there.

The question I put to myself on hearing the glad tidings that Curry was to write a column for the Courant was this: What is the “new dimension” Curry is expected to bring to the paper, and how does it differ from the old dimension?

Now, I’ve looked into the matter; I’ve studied it closely, and I’m here to report that -- there is no new dimension. The touted “new dimension” is just an advertising gimmick. But there is a new effort underway to provide what the Courant, John DeStefanop, the new Democrat nominee for governor, Bill Curry, Paul Bass, the entire stable of the paper’s liberal commentariat – including Colin McEnroe, Dennis Horgan, Tom Condon, Frank Harris III, Bessy Reyna, Robert Thorson and others -- call “property tax reform.” The Courant has been blowing up the property tax reform dirigible every since Curry made it a centerpiece of his campaign against former Governor John Rowland.

And on the first Sunday after DeStefano was chosen by Democrats to unseat Jodi Rell, the Courant ran an editorial outlining its marching orders to the troops:

The property tax system and its problems must be the focus of this fall's gubernatorial election. Connecticut will not break out of its slow-growth rut until it tackles the main problem. The two major-party candidates for governor must put forth thorough and credible plans to reform the system. Such reform might include shifting some education spending to other taxes, finding new sources of revenue for municipalities, some form of tax-sharing and other measures.

And the editorial threw down the gauntlet to Governor Rell:

The Republican incumbent also is aware of the problem. Earlier this year, she proposed eliminating the property tax on cars, and paying for it by eliminating the property tax credit on the income tax. Some towns calculated they would lose money on the deal, as would some taxpayers. While there are inequities in the taxing of vehicles, this proposal was not the comprehensive property tax reform that is desperately needed.

Make no mistake: Changing the property tax system will be politically daunting; perhaps a greater challenge than Gov. Lowell P. Weicker Jr. faced when he backed the income tax 15 years ago. But it has to be done. Towns are under pressure to develop every inch of open space, which is hurting the state's vaunted quality of life. Because of school costs, many towns are discouraging the construction of homes for families with children, a most disquieting trend. How can a community be healthy and vibrant without children?

Strong leadership at the top will be needed to lessen the burden of property taxes. Voters must demand that the candidates for governor squarely address this issue.

Odd, isn’t it? Every time the Courant mentions Weicker’s name approvingly – It is invoked among progressives in the hushed tones usually reserved for the faithful praying to the saints – taxes go up.

Under Democrat proposals for property tax reform, the state will increase the amount of money it gives to municipal governments to pay for educational costs. I pause here to mention that the tax burden will fall on state taxpayers, who also happen to be municipal tax payers, a datum sometimes overlooked by Democrats in their haste to be all things to all people.

In the long run, both Democrat candidates for governor proposed replacing the property tax, as an educational revenue funder, with the income tax – which is, as we all know, more progressive. DeStefano, the Hugo Chavez of Connecticut politics, would fund educational spending by dunning the millionaires. Malloy’s plan was more subtle than that: His would decouple property taxes and educational funding. Educational funding would be paid through taxes realized from dedicated funds.

In the short run, the state would cover about 50% of the cost of educational funding, mostly paid out in salaries, up from about 38%. Both plans are said to provide “tax relief” to municipal property taxpayers. But tax relief would only be provided to property taxpayers if the municipalities were to return the difference to them, and Democrat plans do not provide for this contingency. The plans do not say to municipalities, “Look, we (state government) are going to give you 8% more in tax money to defray your educational costs, provided you return it to municipal property taxpayers so they may find relief. That provision is not written in stone in any of the plans I’ve seen. It’s not even penciled in in the fine print.

Why not?

Because the plans do not envision providing tax relief to taxpayers – municipal or state. The best and most efficient way to provide tax relief to taxpayers is to reduce both spending and taxes; this would necessarily involve painful cuts in budget allocations. It is the tax spenders who will be afforded relief under the Democrat plans.Relief from what?

Well, from this: “If I can’t make the property tax payment in January or July, there is no point to vote Yes” on Vernon Connecticut’s thrice rejected budget proposal. That was said by Eileen Miller. She added, “We do not have it. You are literally driving us out of our homes.” Orchard Street resident James Tupponce said, “We all have our own budgets. If you can’t afford your own bills, why would you vote to increase your expenses?” Tanya Merrow of Grove Street stepped to the microphone and said, “I can’t afford to do it. I need to be able to afford the tax increase in my family budget.”

These quotes, from a Citizen’s Forum called by Vernon Mayor Ellen Marmer, were not taken from major newspapers that service the area. They were taken from the Rockville Reminder, a free community news advertising paper that circulates in the Tri-Town area that includes Vernon. The reporter who transcribed these quotes had no dog in the property tax reform fight. She just reported what she had heard.

Were it not for referendums, those words would never have seen the light of day. They would never have reached the ears of municipal officials who submitted a thrice rejected budget that would have increased spending by more than 4.25% -- in addition to earlier tax increases and a property re-evaluation increase. Then again, were it not for referendums, there would be no curbs on spending – and that is the way the tax spenders want it.

Our state budget has doubled within the terms of two and a half governors because there is no state budget referendum. Now, I’m going to go out on a limb here and make a wild guess. My guess is that property tax reformers know this. They know that by moving a portion of payments from municipal to state government, they are avoiding unpleasant confrontations and referendums. It has become wearisome for mayors to hear from their constituents words such as these: We can’t afford your tax increases in our own budgets; you are literally driving us from our homes.

There is a message here for Republicans: You can either align yourself with the Courant and its stable of liberal columnists and Curry and the state Conference of Municipalities and Mayor Ellen Marmer and all the angels and saints in the progressivist heaven – or you can align yourself with Eileen Miller and Tanya Merrow.

So far, those who have taken up the case of Eileen Miller and Tanyy Merrow have reaped a rich harvest in votes. I know that is the case here in Windsor. It will be so in other towns as well. People are sore with the beating they have taken from reckless spenders. Waves of dissatisfaction have washed out of Connecticut members of our family with whom we might have grown old together; the victims of cutbacks and business anemia, they now visit us infrequently from low tax states where they have gone to continue working. Or if they were recent graduates, they have followed the rainbow to states whose politicians perceive a vital connection between high taxes, burdensome state regulation and anemic business activity. They ended up in the Carolinas and other boomtown states in the South. These are the fruits of our politics: smaller extended families; bloated budgets; a malingering, seemingly endless recession; and uncomprehending politicians, as secure in their positions as any potent mini-totalitarian recluse from democracy. Progressivism, which is simply are more energetic liberalism, will give us more of the same – quicker.

As Republicans, you can do something about all this. You can take this pledge: NO PROPERTY TAX REFORM WITHOUT REFERENDUMS.

It’s time to fight for Eileen Miller and Tanya Merrow. Do it for their children, and your children and grandchildren. If you shrink from the task, others will carry the day – and the future – by force.

Before I close, I want to make one clarifying remark, because I do not wish to be misunderstood. Nothing I have said here should be taken as a personal attack on Bill Curry. I like and admire Curry: He’s a generous, warm-hearted, witty and courageous man. But he is wrong about property tax reform, and I hope some day to convince him of the errors of his ways – perhaps when both of us have retired and moved to South Carolina, where never a discouraging word is heard and the days are unclouded with Hartford Courants. On the other hand, if this seed of rebellion I am attempting to plant in Windsor puts down roots – maybe I’ll sick around.

Thursday, August 10, 2006


Sen. Joe Lieberman believes that there are some things more important than political parties; Senator Chris Dodd believes there are things more important than friendship. And then, of course, there was the Englishman who said that if he had been given the choice to betray his friend or his country, he hoped to God he would have the good sense to betray his country. There is an ongoing vigorous debate within the Democrat party on all these points.

The most humorous moment in the campaign so far occurred when Attorney General Richard Blumenthal lost his place in his script. As reported by Gregory B. Hladky in the Bristol Press:

State Attorney General Richard Blumenthal momentarily slipped into old habits before swiftly correcting himself. "I am supporting Joe Lieberman," Blumenthal began and then stopped in embarrassment. "I am supporting Ned Lamont as ardently as I supported Joe Lieberman," he added.

One Big Happy Family

On the day after Connecticut’s bruising Democrat primary, early supporters of “Crashing the Gate” primary winner Ned Lamont, among them the Reverends Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, were jubilant.

Prominent Democrats who previously had supported the now ejected Sen. Joe Lieberman, among them Sen. Chris Dodd and Rep. John Larson, joined hearts together on the dais with a smiling Lamont.

Once again, primary wounds have been bound up, and Democrats have become one big happy family.

However, the glad tidings have not reached Surfing Bird, nesting in the Nedroots, who offered the following comment on a much read progressive blog site:

My fellow Nutmeggers: we can't let this stand! If Lieberman gets away with running as an Independent, it will set an unhealthy precedent. Next thing you know, candidates all over the country who lose their primaries will run as Independents, and the whole primary process will be rendered meaningless.

We need to make sure the next three months are pure hell for Traitor Joe. We need to show up at his campaign events with protest signs, the Kiss Float needs to keep stalking him, and we need to yell and scream and make our voices heard.

Come on Surfing Bird, get with the show. The programs in general elections and primaries are qualitatively different, because the audience is different and the message must be carefully tailored to appeal to a more diverse group of respondents. The Kiss float is not likely to energize moderates and unaffiliated voters. The campaign has entered its bridge building stage.

Mothball that float.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Lamont’s Doppelgänger

Ex Governor and Senator Lowell Weicker’s pre-primary election interview with radio talk show host and Illuminati Colin McEnroe was a classic in artful dodging. McEnroe asked Weicker to dilate on the similarity between his fractious relationship with the Republican Party and Senator Joe Lieberman’s uneasy relationship with the Democrat Party. Lieberman, at the time, was being assaulted by leftist purists in his party for having too cozy a relationship with Republicans, even as Weicker once had been under attack from Republican stalwarts for being a better Democrat than, say, Senators Edward Kennedy or Chris Dodd.

The difference, said Weicker, was that he had never been rejected in a primary – even though, after losing to Lieberman, Weicker had fled his party and run for governor as an Independent. Vive la difference, as the French say.

McEnroe nodded assent. Perhaps he was over tired and did not recall that Weicker, having shoehorned his chief aide, Tom D’Amore, into the chairmanship of the Republican Party, once had proposed opening Republican nominating conventions to unaffiliated voters, so that a growing insurrection against the senator among real Republicans might be put down. What a pity Lieberman hadn’t though of that.

Weicker, as must seem obvious even to select members of the Illuminati, never was a party guy. After Watergate, he became combatively independent, a no man but yours kind of guy, a maverick, swishing through the twentieth century in his lonely kayak, battling against the Republican conservative tide.

The differences between Weicker and Lieberman are minimal – and far less important than their similarities. In fact, Lieberman is the anti-Weicker, just as Ned Lamont is the anti-Lieberman. In an odd sort of way, this makes Lamont Weicker’s Doppelgänger. There’s a real story here for any enterprising reporter with a nose sensitive enough to sniff it out.

The Doppelgänger has now taken a job with Lamont’s campaign, not that Weicker needs the money. Both Weicker and Lamont are independently -- even redundantly -- wealthy.

Don't Stop Thinking About Tomorrow

Anonymous said...

He's going to give the Iranians a reason not to build a nuclear bomb

Like what, give the Ayatollah his lapsed membership in the Round Hill Club? -- Connecticut Local Politics

The anonymous blogger has a point: Most terrorists are fairly hard-headed, and there may be no permanent solutions in the Middle East, only a past soaked in blood and a doubtful future. Diplomatists talk as if it is possible to negotiate the suicide pack off the chest of the suicide bomber. They are wrong.

The post-primary blogs have a different tone and message than the pre-primary blogs, which suggest considerable movement in Connecticut’s political templates -- for primaries are different than general elections.

Primaries are intra-party struggles for prestige and power; general elections are much broader in scope and purpose. In showing Sen. Joe Lieberman the door, Lamont supporters – a Pequod crew of anti-war protesters, energetic college and high school students, gone-to-seed-former shakers and movers within the McGovernite anti-Vietnam War wing of the party, holier than Joe-momentum Democrats, assiduous readers of DailyKos and the Huffington Post, Lowell Weicker, his major domo Tom D’Amore, once a Republican Party chairman, and other eager progressives – were nailing above the gates of the Democrat Party the following notice: “Tremble all ye who enter here; who is not with us is against us.” The intra-party war is not a war of all against all; it is a duel to the death between the McGovernite wing of the party and those who follow the precepts of the Democrat Leadership Council. It is a struggle, in other words, between moderates and leftists.

It was not so much the peck on the cheek between Lieberman and President George Bush that mobilized the senator’s opposition. It was Lieberman’s embrace of Republican positions – especially on the war in Iraq -- and his unwillingness to needlessly shed Republican blood for the sake of Democrat solidarity that placed him beyond reach of his party's true believers.

It may have been this feeling of utter frustration and betrayal that induced Jane Hamsher, an ideological carpetbagger on loan to the Lamont campaign from FireDogLake, a progressive blog site, to put up on the Huffington Post a doctored picture of Lieberman in black-face with his sidekick Bill Clinton. See, we’re making a point here folks. Jane just took it to the max. You got a problem with that?

With the general election stretching out before them like a brilliant sunrise, Lamont supporters now have a few serious problems on their hands.

In the pre-general election period, Lamont supporters often argued that primaries were good because they offered voters choices they otherwise might not have; for the same reason, third party challenges generally are considered good by independistas – especially those who, like Weicker, have engaged successfully in such campaigns. But an independent bid by a candidate defeated in a primary is not good … because?

Lamont supporters might argue that a Democrat defeated in a primary should not have a second bite at the apple. But the apple – the ability to run in a general election as the designated Democrat and claim all the rights and immunities associated with party nominees – already has fallen to the victor. A Lieberman challenge would not dispute Lamont’s place in the Democrat universe. It would simply give voters in the general election an opportunity to cast their ballots for an additional candidate. And this is bad … because?

Connecticut tumbles forward into the future with such questions yet unanswered. Lamont -- not to mention roomfuls of frothing bloggers -- can’t wait to assume his seat in the world’s best and brightest debating society. And when he arrives in Washington atop “The Kiss” float, a paper mache representation showing a lip-locked Bush and Lieberman, one can be sure there will be no kissing of Republican presidents. A polite handshake in the rose garden may be in order, but no smooching.

First, however, Lamont must get by Lieberman in the general election, and it is no great encouragement that he will have at his command the same political engines of the Democrat Party that so signally failed Lieberman – including oodles of cash and the vigorous support of Bill and Hillary Clinton.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Winners and Losers, a self interview

Q: After the Democrat primaries, who are the winners and losers?

A: It hardly matters if Lieberman wins the primary. The Lamont campaign represents a significant win for progressives, as they style themselves, in the Democrat Party.

Q: Who are they?

A: The anti-war crowd and various hanger’s on. The Lamont candidacy was launched from the epicenter of Connecticut and national politics. You can’t go further left than anti-war protestor Lowell Weicker and the proprietor of Daily Kos, Markos Moulitsas Zuniga. The Democrat establishment would have been satisfied with Lieberman, mostly for self serving reasons. Democrats control pretty much the entire political barracks in the state, but the governorship has eluded them. According to the polls, Rell continues to be strong, and the Lieberman/Lamont primary has prevented Democrats from launching a concerted attack on a governor widely regarded as a moderate (read: safe Republican). Rell may be best understood a stand-alone political party. That is true of every incumbent politician in the state; they are all islands unto themselves. Political parties as we once knew them hardly exist in Connecticut. After the Lieberman/Lamont primary, their dissolution may be considered complete.

Q: So, what do the new Young Turks want?

A: The same thing that the old Young Turks wanted: prestige, political power, status – and, down the road, jobs as political consultants. Jerome Armstrong, the author with Markos Moulitsas Zuniga of “Crashing the Gates,” a how-to book on busting up entrenched moderates is under investigation by the Security and Exchange Commission for fraudulent stock dealing. Apparently, you can make a buck in blogging. Even as Lieberman’s blood is still wet on the primary floor, the talk among local bloggers is of books and contracts. They have laid siege to an abandoned castle. There’s no one at home in the parties, except a few union stewards drinking Radeberger Pilsners on the ruined battlements with multi-term aging divorced incumbents and Connecticut’s radical commentariat. The parties are pretty much over.

Q: Are you sure?

A: They’ve been dead and buried for some time. Lowell Weicker’s success in Connecticut politics is proof of the ineffectiveness of political parties. It was Lowell, the first “no man but yours” maverick politician in Connecticut, who jumped started the Lamont campaign. Of course, the Republican Party in the state had been withering away for years before the advent of Weicker. His aide-de-camp, former Republican Party Chairman Tom D’Amore, was hired early on by the Lamont campaign. What did it mean in Connecticut politics during the Weicker ascendancy to be a “maverick” politician? Weicker was a Republican who, like Lieberman, occasionally made patty-cakes with the other side. Connecticut always has been a deep blue state. So, the easiest way for an undernourished Republican to survive in this Darwinian universe is to support Democrat proposals whenever possible. It’s hardly a mark of courage to sabotage Republican Party campaigns by endorsing Democrats, as Weicker regularly did when he was senator. Lowell undermined Republicans with his usually energy and dispatch, describing himself at one point cheerfully – and accurately – as “the turd in the Republican Party punchbowl.” That sort of thing gets you invited to tea with the real political shakers and movers in Connecticut.

Q: And they would be?

A: Pretty much everyone in Connecticut’s media, with some notable exceptions, the professorariat at nearly all the state’s colleges and universities, most in-office state politicians except for Governor Jodi Rell, unions, members in good standing of the Democrat Party, bloggers who hope to sign book contracts when the last shovel full of earth is thrown over Lieberman’s remains, and Colin McEnroe. With the exception of the governor’s office, Connecticut has been a one party state ever since God said “Let there be light.”

Q: Why do you suppose the good people of Connecticut have not elected a Democrat governor since William O’Neill hung up his spurs?

A: How can you be sure they haven’t?

Q: What ever can you mean?

A: Well, O’Neill was followed by Weicker, who was followed by John Rowland, neither of whom can pass the Republican sniff test. Weicker imposed an income tax on the state, hardly the hallmark of a traditional Republican. Even former Governors Ella Grasso and O’Neill opposed the state income tax. Rowland emerged from the campaign egg as a Reagan Republican, which is why many in his party were at first titillated by him. But, once in office, Rowland was overcome by the general atmosphere and reverted to type. It takes a certain kind of character to be thrown in with a ship full of pirates and yet refuse to fly the Jolly Roger. Anyway, after a few terms in office, Rowland seemed to everyone a sort of younger version of Weicker; he staked out the middle for himself and soon popped up in approving Hartford Courant editorials as a can-do “moderate” governor, useful as a firewall to prevent spendthrift Democrats from driving the state into the poorhouse. Every time the paper held up a hoop to the governor, Rowland obligingly jumped through it. In the end, hoping to build a breakwater between himself and some of his seedier political associates, Rowland routed all the state contracts outside his office, and his henchmen began to play monopoly with them. At this point, all the long knives came out. When a mortally wounded Rowland looked around for a friendly smile, all he saw were menacing grimaces. Republican didn’t care about him because he had gone native; Democrats viewed his corrupt activities as a springboard to the governor’s office – though it hasn’t worked out that way; and the usual culprits were happy to see a Republican corpse dangling from a rope swinging slowly in the breeze.

Q: So, your point is that all the Republican governors since O’Neill were faux Republicans.

A: There were only two. Weicker, remember, bolted the party after his loss to Lieberman and ran for the governor as an independent loathed to impose an income tax on the state. But in the popular imagination, he had been identified for virtually all his political career as a Republican. When the faux Republican and his reborn moderate successor had left office, the state’s budget had magically doubled. But isn’t that precisely the point made by Democrat insurgents with respect to Lieberman? In their view, Lieberman is a faux Democrat. Why has no one commented upon the slap-in-the-face irony of the situation? Here we have Democrat purists who claim that Lieberman is, in important ways, a Democrat imposter. But the assault on Lieberman was instigated by Lowell Weicker, a faux Republican who was supported in many of his campaigns by leading Democrats, Ted Kennedy and Chris Dodd among them. Parties as such played only a walk-on roll in all of this. It would be closer to the truth to say there are no parties. There is the party of Lieberman, the party of Chris Dodd, the party of Rosa DeLauro, and so on down the line. Every incumbent is his or her own political party. They have their own staff, their own pollsters, their own money making machines. And it is for want of a viable party that Lieberman was ejected from the ranks by the insurgents. On the Republican side, it is for want of a real party that the state budget has doubled within the space of two governors.

Q: Is Jodi Rell her own party?

A: Sure. I keep reverting to a notion once peddled by Arthur Schlesinger Jr., a party man himself. When the parties disappear, he said, politics will be conducted on the sly by warring anarchical factions; the result will be that the candidates, and consequently the destiny of the nation, will be determined by extra-party groups seeking their own interests. You have to ask yourself: What part would Jack Abramoff have played in a party run by Connecticut political boss John Bailey? He would have been sticking nickels in parking meters for Democrats attending nominating conventions. Remember nominating conventions -- where delegates, with a little prodding from the bosses, used to select candidates for office? Primaries sounded the death knell for nominating conventions. Schlesinger, it turns out, was a prophet unloved in his own country.

Q: Why are Rell’s positives so high?

A: Because there does not appear to be a there there. Please do not misunderstand; this is a compliment, or at least the chorus continually warning us of the dangers of partisanship would regard it as a tribute. Isn’t that the beef with Lieberman – that there is no Democratic there there, that he has sided too often with Republicans? So says that noted political theorist, the nameless proprietor of the blogsite MyLeftNutmeg. It’s tough to lay a glove on agile moderates. They are Proteus. As soon as you think you have your hands wrapped around a solid neck, the persona turns to smoke. Life became dangerous for Lieberman when he committed himself to the survival of Israel and the democratization of Iraq. It is commitment that makes a politician solid – and vulnerable at the same time, a lesson not lost on the moderates. Notice how agilely Sen. Hillary Clinton and her husband Bill have danced around the hidden mines exposed by the Lieberman/Lamont primary. Hill and Bill threw their support to Lieberman before the primary -- on the understanding that they were leaving themselves free to support the winner of the primary.

Q: Rell has not assumed solid shape?

A: Well, she doesn’t like political corruption; that’s good. But on many other points, she’s running with the pack. It may be possible to establish a significant difference between Republican and Democrats on the matter of property tax reform. But doing so will take intelligence and courage, and I’m not sure Republican office holders are up to it.

Q: Explain.

A: Later, after the primaries.

Friday, August 04, 2006

The Stakes

The front page Associated Press picture in the Hartford Courant said a thousands words. It showed a somewhat cautious Ned Lamont being bear-hugged by Tommie Jackson, the pastor of Faith Baptist Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church in Stamford, while the Reverend Al Sharpton stood to his left beaming, no doubt waiting for his papier-mâché hug or, perhaps better, a peck on the cheek and a whispered sweet nothing in his ear.

Why so diffident? Well sir, hugs and pecks mean something in our politics. They are a way of branding a politician. A serious hug means: I’m yours, and you’re mine. In the 21st century, no politician will plight their troth for more than, say, fifteen minutes, just enough time for a quick dip in fame’s baptismal font. They will rent themselves out to all comers, for the price of a vote. Those who have committed themselves, whether to a person or a cause, will be followed about by a huge papier-mâché reminder of their indiscreet dalliances.

It seems that Lowell Weicker, as senator, was on to something when he branded himself “No man but yours” -- which, translated into the modern idiom, means “no man but his own.”

Lieberman, viewed by some as an antique has-been, has commitments hanging all over him, albatrosses dragging him into the mire of modern politics. For instance, he appears to be quaintly committed to the survival of Israel -- now under direct military attack by Hezbollah and facilitating Arab states, both as a nation and an idea -- at time when the whole notion of committment has become somewhat passé.

During the French resistance in World War II, when the streets of Paris were thronged with Nazi soldiers cannoodling with local sympathetic non-partisans, members of the French resistance who thought their country ought to commit itself to those uniquely Western ideas the nation had brought forth in a bloody revolution, called themselves, proudly,” partisans.” Among them was a young Albert Camus writing, anonymously in a magazine he had created called Combat, to a former German friend, now an enemy of everything Camus loved.

Both his German friend and Camus were cynics. France, before it had entered the battle against Nazism in earnest, had paused at the intersection of intelligence and courage; it stopped to drink at the wellsprings of thought, and that pause had cost France dearly, while Germany, cynical to the bone, had committed itself to nothing but force and violence.

And what was it Camus loved? Small things that loomed large in Camus’s appreciation, all of which betoken an absence of soulless cynicism: “… the roses in the cloisters of Florence, the guilded bulbous dome of Krakow, the delicate gardens of Salzburg… I delight in all this. For all those landscapes, those flowers and those plowed fields, the oldest of lands, show you every spring that there are things you cannot choke in blood”

Camus had decided to fight for what he loved, to wade through blood, if necessary, to defend justice and liberty. “The battle we are waging,” he told his former German friend, “is sure of victory because it is as obstinate as spring… henceforth, we have a superiority that will destroy you.”

That is how men talked in the rubble of defeat -- Remember, Paris, the city of lights, was occupied by the Nazis – when there were yet men in Europe who were not cynics.

This year, as Israel is under direct attack from Iran and Syria – and, of course, subsidiary organizations like Hezbollah, who want to choke it in blood – the entire West, now paused in thought, will have to decide whether lovely things, including courage and liberty, are worth defending, because the time is coming when the violent will bear these things away in their teeth.

And Joe Lieberman and Ned Lamont and Al Sharpton and Tommy Jackson and the Godly worshipers of Faith Baptist Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church in Stamford will, like Israel, be forced to choose between resistance and liberty or acquiescence and a slavery of the spirit that leads downward to the pit of cynicism, where liberty and courage are choked in blood.

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