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Showing posts from October, 2006

Europe, Going, Going, Gone

According to Gerald and Natalie Sirkin, two Connecticut commentators who have appeared on this site before, Europe is becoming less significant and, so to speak, less European.

THE DEATH OF NATIONS
by Gerald and Natalie Sirkin

"That's how great nations die -- not by war or conquest, bit bit by bit, until one day you wake up and you don't need to sign a formal instrument of surrender because you did it piecemeal over the last ten years -- Mark Steyn

Nations are dying around us. Literally. One illness they have is bad demographics.

To hold a population steady, a country needs a fertility rate (meaning average number of children born per woman) of 2.1, assuming no immigration.

The United States has a fertility rate of roughly 2.1 . Compare that to France 1.89, the Netherlands 1.72, Canada , 1.48, Germany 1.35, Japan 1.32, Italy 1.23, Russia 1.14, Spain 1.1 . With those fertility rates, populations are aging and shrinking. Russia, from a population of 148 million in the 1…

Kerry on Vietman, Again

In a Journal Inquirer editorial, Keith Burris, the paper’s editorial page editor, labored to explain why a crowd composed of veterans attending Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry’s appearance in East Hartford was so pitifully thin.

“Is the Lamont campaign staff trying to fill halls?” Burris wrote.

Burris speculated that the Democrat Party in East Hartford may have been negligent. Couldn’t they have swelled the crowd by compelling students to attend as a part of their civic classes – not a bad idea, actually.

Kerry was praised in the editorial for his efforts to end the war in Vietnam – not a bad idea either – nor did he shrink from mentioning the Vietnam war:

“He said, in fact, that this war (in Iraq) is even worse, because Vietnam should have taught us to avoid a war like this one. He implied that this war was built upon even more lies than Vietnam. And he said the biggest lesson of Vietnam is that the government owes the public, and the men it asks to fight, the truth.”

Indeed, the truth, the…

How To Read Courant Endorsements

This is what comes of moderate thinking: It has become impossible to decipher the principles that animate Hartford Courant endorsements.

Colin McEnroe, leaker to the Blogs and also a writer for the Courant, noted on his own blog, with some dismay, that the Courant the next day intended to endorse Sen. Joe Lieberman. McEnroe also noted that the paper, surprisingly, intended to endorse New Haven Mayor John DeStefano for governor. The dawning sun on Sunday showed that McEnroe was right on both counts.

Cynics are certain to observe that the Courant’s DeStefano editorial plug is a throw-away endorsement, since DeStefano trails Governor Jodi Rell in the polls by what seems to be an unsurpassable lead, while the Lieberman endorsement is more significant. Lieberman and Ned Lamont have been nick and tuck since the opening gun in their jihad was fired by ex-governor and senator Lowell Weicker.

The question inevitably arises: What principle or principles dictate the Courant’s selections, or are the…

BBC Commentary in Connecticut

When the British writer G. K. Chesterton on his American tour found himself besieged by a gang of reporters in a hotel in New England, he immediately proclaimed himself an amiable anarchist of the Henry David Thoueau variety – “That government governs best that governs not at all.” And then he was asked what form of government he thought the best. “A republic,” he boomed. “This hotel would make a fine republic.”

Sometimes it takes a foreign eye to confirm for us what is best in us. The BBC crew, now in Connecticut reporting on the state election that pits Joe Lieberman against Ned Lamont in a hard fought U.S. Senate race, has performed a like service for us.

Bearing in mind Oscar Wilde’s quip that the United States and Britain are two nations separated by a common language, the questions and the commentary on the BBC site, "Up All Night," are excellent. It’s easier to adjust to the subtleties on the spot, which is why Rhod Sharp, part of the BBC crew, leapt the pond to be her…

Nixonizing Lieberman

The paradigm for war protesters who believe that Bush’s war in Iraq has become a “quagmire” and a “civil war” is, of course, Vietnam. Somewhat down in the polls, anti-war candidate for the U.S. Senate Ned Lamont has decided to play his “Vietnam card.” And if Iraq is Viet Nam, there must be in the script that runs like a golden tread through the Lamont campaign a dark-jowled Tricky Dick Nixon stomping the stage with his hobnailed boots. After all, Lamont’s senatorial ideal is ex-governor and former U.S. senator Lowell Weicker, who earned his senatorial spurs by declaiming against anti-Vietnam war candidate Joe Duffey, the Democrat nominee for senator in 1970.

Democrat Sen. Tom Dodd, Sen. Chris Dodd’s father, was the petitioning candidate in that race. Weicker, a wealthy Republican candidate from Greenwich, later changed his mind about Vietnam. Weicker and his former chief aide, Tom D’Amore, are advising the Lamont campaign. The guy in the hobnailed boots, the Nixon stand-in, is present …

Why?

The most conspicuous follower of President George Bush’s war policy in Iraq is, as any MyLeftNutmegger will be happy to tell you, Democrat Sen. Joe Lieberman; yet Lieberman is gaining support, according to recent polls.

U.S. Rep. Christopher Shays, also a proponent of the war, has lost points and now is even with his challenger, Dianne Farrell.

Responding to the Hartford Courant-UConn poll, Farrell’s campaign manager Adam Wood said, “The momentum for change is growing, particularly in the 4th Congressional District, and the poll reflects that. ... People are aware of Chris Shays' support for the president's policy on Iraq and are becoming more frustrated day by day."

If support for the war in Iraq has depressed Shays’ numbers, why have Lieberman’s numbers gone up?

My best guess is that one Democrat is more attractive than the other.

Out You Go, Baby

The Hartford Courant’s across the board endorsements of Democrat liberals this year begs the question: Are newspaper endorsements effective?

First of all, it should be noted that in choosing to endorse all Democrats and no Republicans for U.S. congressional positions, the paper invites speculation that it is throwing babies out with the wash water. The Republicans against whom Courant editorial board members voted this year are all moderates, not the fire breathing conservatives that swarm past the Mason Dixon line.

The Courant -- which tends to react to conservatives pretty much in the way the devil reacts to holy water – has somewhat plausibly supported moderate Republicans in the past, arguing that the vital center in American politics, the intersection where liberalism and conservativism meet and conspire to compromise, is worth preserving.

By any rational accounting, Rep. Chris Shays, is a moderate Republican: He is the author and enabler in the House of the Shays-Meehan campaign fi…

The Interview With Alan Schlesinger Conservatives Would Like To Hear

Q: Mr. Schlesinger, do you understand why some people in Connecticut, even some Republicans, regard your candidacy as menacing? They think that a vote for Schlesinger is a vote for Lamont, so that voting for you would be something of a – if you’ll forgive the expression – gamble.

A: Very funny. But at least I gambled with my own money. I notice that powerful people in Washington who gamble with the people’s money are not subjected to the same critical analysis.

Q: Who would that be?

A: Harry Reid, the leader of Democrats in the Senate. Corruption, apparently, is catchy. The Associated Press now is reporting that U.S. Senate Democrat leader Harry Reid has slipped on blood. The anti-corruption pit bull has been using his campaign funds to give Christmas bonuses to the staff at the Ritz Carlton, an upscale condominium where he lives in Washington D.C. That’s the sort of sloppy accounting that that got Sen. Tom Dodd in trouble. This is strike two for Reid, according to the AP. Let me read a …

Lieberman The Independent

Nobody has given serious thought yet to what an independent Sen. Joe Lieberman would be like should he prevail against Democrat U.S. senatorial nominee Ned Lamont in November.

Lieberman, who considers himself a Democrat -- though he now wears on his chest the scarlet letter of an independent -- has said he would continue to caucus with Democrats, which seems to mean that he would be an independent in name only. Lieberman has been assured by his former political friends, now purring and rubbing their sent off on Lamont, that he would retain his 18 years of seniority; that is to say, he would lose none of his status and authority within the Democratic caucus.

A reporter caught Lieberman on the stump recently and asked several seemingly innocuous questions that caused the senator’s overly reflective brain to kick into its thoughtful mode. Should Democrats take over the U.S. House of Representatives, would America be better off?

“Uh, I haven’t thought about that enough to give an answer,” L…

Understanding Kim Through Dramaturgy

Shin Sang-ok enters the stage and approaches a large standing mirror with great trepidation. At the end of his monologue, he will fade out and only the mirror, with Kim Jong Il’s image in it, will be seen.

Shin Sang-ok: I am not Kim Jong Il, though people have told me I look a bit like him; it’s the pompadour, I think. Kim could not be here. That would be impossible.

To understand Kim, you must understand something of the uses of imagery. I have a comprehensive understanding of the science of imagery, for I was a movie producer in South Korea, before I was abducted and taken to the North. One of Kim’s agents put a bag over my head and spirited me off. Well, you know -- North Korea; it’s not Hollywood… Having tried and failed to escape several times, I was put into a reeducation camp for four years.

Why is it always four years, I wonder? Why not ten, or eleven and a half? (He laughs) You are surprised, perhaps, that the camp did not rob me of my sense of humor? But believe me, when you ar…

This Is An Apple; This Is An Orange

The good ship Chris Shays, captained by the besieged Republican congressional representative who this year is defending his seat against former Westport First Selectwoman Diane Farrell, ran aground when Shays said, in an address before a Jewish group, that the guards at Abu Grab were practicing a perverted form of sex rather than torture on their prisoners. Shays was immediately attacked by partisan bloggers.

“What could he have been thinking?” was the general refrain. And soon the editorialists weighed in. It has been suggested in recent days that the failure to provide enemy combatants with habeas corpus protection is a form of severe deprivation, and Shays’ remark was taken by those in the United States who wish to wrap the torturers of Daniel Pearl in constitutional cellophane as, to say the least, intolerant.

Can a distinction be made between the torture of Pearl, a journalist whose head was sawed off by enemy combatants – the event was videoed and aired on Arab television – and th…

No Big Deal: DeStefano's Big Ideas

John DeStefano, mayor of New Haven, is said to be the “Big Idea” candidate. The corollary to that proposition is that his opponent, Gov. Jodi Rell, is the caretaker candidate, a nice lady but somewhat derelict in the matter of ideas.

The kind of people who admire DeStefano think big all the time. Every minute of the day, and twice on Tuesdays, a Big Idea slices into their brains, causing them to shout “Eureka!” If one could take a can opener to their foreheads, one would find any number of Big Ideas squiggling around in their brain pans. Dan Malloy, the mayor of Stamford, was rejected in a Democrat primary because DeStefano’s ideas were bigger and more adventuresome than Malloy’s. Every time Malloy, in hot debate with DeStefano, popped out with a Big Idea, he was trumped by DeStefano, who shouted from the primary podium, “Mine’s bigger than yours!”

DeStefano’s most gargantuan idea touches on property tax reform. It is said, by the Big Idea people, that the little people in Connecticut’s…

Swiftboating Joe: A Self Interview

Q: How’s Joe (Lieberman) doing?

A: The patient is recovering.

Q: From?

A: The mugging.

Q: Ha!!!

A: He’s up in almost all the polls -- anywhere from 10% to 15%, depending upon which soothsayer you consult. But Lieberman has received a drubbing, mostly for two reasons: He was too friendly to President George Bush, universally reviled here in the “provision state;” and, in his political life, Lieberman has not been a take-no-prisoners Democrat, like John Kerry or Ted Kennedy, both unbending opponents of everything Republican. Unpopular wars have a way of bringing out the partisan in everyone. Partisanship is in these days; mutual co-operation – collegiality, as they call it in the U.S. Senate – is out.

Q: Because we are in an election?

A: No, I think the political templates have shifted. We are witnessing a change in the political culture, a hotting-up on both sides, comparable to global warming.

Q: And the change has been prompted by the war?

A: Only in part. Partisan difference rumble under the…

Rushdie on Women's Liberation

After being forced underground for ten years at a cost of £1 million a year, the price of bodyguards in Merry Old England, Salman Rushdie, author of the Satanic Verses -- which got him a fatwah from the Ayatollah Khomeini – has lost none of his fizz.

"Speaking as somebody with three sisters and a very largely female Muslim family,” Rushdie said during a recent interview, “there's not a single woman I know in my family or in their friends who would have accepted wearing the veil.

"I think the battle against the veil has been a long and continuing battle against the limitation of women, so in that sense I'm completely on [Leader of Britian’s House of Commons Jack Straw's] side.”

And here’s the fizz: “He [Straw] was expressing an important opinion, which is that veils suck, which they do. I think the veil is a way of taking power away from women."

Although the fatwah against Rushdie presumably has been removed, opinions of this kind are not likely to earn the autho…
L’affair à La Renaissance was arranged by conservative talk show host Brad Davis. Over six hundred people showed up at La Renaissance in East Windsor to munch on lunch and listen to Sen. Joe Lieberman -- dogged by video bloggers, sulfurous anti-Vietnam war protestors, his ancient nemesis Lowell Weicker, and Democrat nominee for his seat in the senate Ned Lamont – do his shtick.

Ten or more points up in the polls from what once was a neck-and-neck race, Lieberman is cautious but full of energy, a contagion he might have caught from genial host Davis, red haired, benevolent and of indeterminate age. An attractive woman at table told me while eating her baked scrod, “I used to listen to Brad during the old Milk Show days.”

That was long ago. American Bandstand was all the rage, and Elvis had not yet stuffed himself to death with doughnuts.

All the fast friends of Brad Davis were there: the king of “Blueberry Hill,” Davis’ nettlesome radio antagonist and Red Sox fan Ace Gizzardi, the honorab…

The Foley Scandal: Inside the Ring

Clarice Feldman, an attorney in Washington, writing in the American Thinker, uncovers some -- but by no means all -- of the dark and unwholesome roots of the Foley scandal.

"Pardon me, but I smell something very peculiar in the way we have learned of the disgrace of Rep. Mark Foley.

"The email scandal which led to the resignation of the Republican Congressman is reverberating throughout the capital and the nation, as Democrats attempt to capitalize on bad news for Republicans. The seamiest of the released emails, which Foley has not denied, are right up there with Rhodes Scholar and Illinois Democratic Congressman Mel Reynolds’ taped phone conversations lusting for 15 year old Catholic school girls in their uniforms.

"But Democrats are attempting to make hay by alleging that the Republican leadership may have known about the inappropriate emails and covered them up for months. Their hope, no doubt, is to discourage turnout by disillusioned evangelical and other voters sens…

Why Debates Don't Matter

Political debates, since the justly famous Lincoln/Douglas encounters, have been vastly overrated. The notion that one may deliver a knock-out blow in a debate is for the most part a fiction. It was a fiction during Lincoln’s day also.

Far more important than the Lincoln/Douglas debates -- the messages of the candidates -- was the medium. Newspapers of the day were frankly partisan. Lincoln himself wrote fake editorials, not under his own name, for Republican papers. And the truest accounts that we have of the debates are to be found, oddly enough, in the opposition press.

The most accurate accounts of Lincoln’s addresses are found in anti-Republican newspapers. Why? Because pro-Lincoln papers would guild his speeches so as to make them more stirring and convincing to a Republican readership; whereas the opposition paper would produce a true, unvarnished stenographic record of Lincoln’s address, taking care to burnish Douglas’ response. Also, Lincoln and Douglas agreed to disagree publi…

The Death of Camelot

Sen. Edward Kennedy came to Connecticut last week to give Ned Lamont, the netroot heartthrob, a leg up in his campaign against Democrat Sen. Joe Lieberman. Lamont is the Democrat nominee for the senate in Connecticut; in an odd twist of primary fate, Lieberman is the petitioning candidate.

Shortly after Lamont pushed Lieberman off the cliff in a Democrat primary, many of Lieberman’s former comrades in the U.S. Senate – prominently in the Northeast, Sen. Hillary Clinton and Kennedy – threw him over in favor of the new kid on the block, arguing that good Democrats must support the nominee of their party.

The Ned and Ted love fest at the Clifford House in Bridgeport provided several amusing moments. In one of his recent ads, Lamont claimed to be running against a politician who had “been in Congress too long,” but not quite as long as Kennedy.

Lamont also promised to refrain from bringing home pork, unlike Kennedy, without whose efforts the Big Dig in Boston might not have been a spectacula…

GAPING HOLES IN U.S. COUNTERINTELLIGENCE

The Sirkins are commentators whose articles have appeared in various newspapers and magazines.

By Gerald and Natalie Sirkin*

Prolific and invaluable investigative reporter Bill Gertz of The Washington Times has just published another blockbuster. Enemies, How America ’s Foes Steal Our Vital Secrets—and How We Let It Happen (N.Y.: Crown Forum, pp. 290, $26.95) exposes the shocking incompetence of the CIA, FBI, Defense Intelligence Agency, and our other intelligence organizations.

The facts are virtually unknown to the American public. We doubt that many have heard of Katrina Leung or her FBI code name, “Parlor Maid.” Yet Leung is rated as one of the most damaging spies ever to penetrate the U.S. Government.

Leung came to the U.S. from China with her parents in 1971 when she was 15. In college she joined the student movement that supported Communist China. Soon she was working with the Chinese intelligence service. Leung was recruited by FBI Agent J. J. Smith, though he knew of her record i…

An interview with Bob Heurt, Candidate for Governor running on the Common Cents Ticket.

Q: You’re running for Governor of Connecticut as a Common Cents candidate, but you’re wearing a Harley Davidson campaign pin? What’s going on here?

A: We’ve taken a page from Nascar. You know how they put their advertisements on pretty much everything a television camera fondles – cars, their clothes and, for all I know, they wear little tattoos of Pepsi cans on their ankles? We’ve adopted that process.

Q: Here’s a first: You’ve sold out to Harley Davidson before your election to office?

A: We haven’t got that far yet in our negotiations with them. We’re trying to corrupt them, but it seems impossible.

Q: How come we haven’t heard about you?

A: We’re campaigning on a reduced budget. Like Blanche DuBois and Alan Schlesinger, the Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate, we’ve found it necessary to throw ourselves on the kindness of strangers. Thanks for the interview.

Q: Aren’t you afraid that no one will take your campaign seriously?

A: Not at all. In Connecticut, most people don’t take campai…