Saturday, January 27, 2007

Dodd, On The Stump In New Hampshire

On the political stump in Dover, New Hampshire, US Sen. Chris Dodd , running for the presidency, declined to give a stump speech and instead took questions from the crowd.

Concerning President Bush’s terms in office, Dodd said, “"We've been on six years of on-the-job training and look where we are." And later he asked rhetorically, “How are we losing a public relations battle with Hugo Chavez?"

Dodd gave no hint to the largely admiring crowd what he would do as president to win the public relations battle with Venezuela’s increasingly leftist dictator. Following a path well worn by the ailing Fidel Castro, Chavez recently warned his opposition in Venezuela that he plans to nationalize the oil industry. While Bush slept, Daniel Ortega, running on a non-progressive pro-Catholic platform, became president of Nicaragua. As previously noted here and elsewhere, Dodd has had valuable experience negotiating with the Ortega brothers in that war swept country.

When a voter asked Dodd whether he'd support a resolution that would cut off funding for American troops in Iraq, the senator tripped lightly over the question and said he would cap the number of American troops in the Middle East. Sen. Edward Kennedy, Dodd’s progressive comrade in Massachusetts, is fashioning a bill that would cut off funding to the troops at war in the Middle East.

Another inquiring mind asked what Dodd would do to stop the Bush administration from starting a war in Iran. The senator said he would introduce legislation capping the number of American troops, which would be more effective that non-binding resolutions, but far less immediatley effective than Kennedy’s plan.

If Bush wants to start a war in Iran, Dodd told the crowd, he should ask Congress first.

And not only Congress. Given the current climate of opinion on the home front, it would be unlikely for the United States to conduct a war anywhere in the world, whatever the provocation, without bringing on board Dodd, the New York Times’ editorial board, the United Nations, Sen. Kennedy and Jane Fonda who, along with Hollywood twinkler Sean Penn, attended her first post Vietnam War Washington DC peace rally on Saturday.

"I'm so sad that we still have to do this, that we did not learn the lessons from the Vietnam War," Fonda said

Bush had denied military designs against Iran, whose charming president has declared numerous times his intention to obliterate Israel, possibly with nuclear weapons. Israel, unwilling to go gentle into that good nuclear night, has hinted at nuclear reprisal. No one in New Hampshire asked Dodd whether these unfortunate disagreements might be settled through diplomacy or, Henry Kissinger being indisposed, who Dodd would suggest sending to Iran to persuade President Ahmadinejad to redact his last 30 speeches on the subject of Israel. Dodd’s brother, The Concord Monitor mentioned, had been a diplomat. Under a Dodd presidency, he would no doubt be available.

The Monitor reported, “’We Democrats cannot continue to be part of the chorus that says diplomacy is a sign of weakness,’ said Dodd, whose brother was a diplomat and whose father was a prosecutor in the Nuremberg Trials.”

There is a grain of truth to Dodd’s insistence that diplomacy is an invaluable tool in the art of statecraft, but opening negotiations with belligerents – especially terrorists – after a war has commenced certainly is a sign of weakness, if not a sign of surrender. We prosecuted Nazi generals at Nuremberg only after we had achieved victory in World War II. Neville Chamberlain, the conservative Prime Minister of England, negotiated with Hitler before he was defeated – to no purpose. Those negotiations were widely viewed, correctly by Hitler and others, as a sign of weakness.

On a humorous note, the Monitor noted, “Ken Roos, an officer for the State Employees Association, asked Dodd in Hooksett what he would say in his inaugural speech in 2009.

"’I'm tired of small-bore politics, where you deal only at the edges," Dodd said.

“He said he would push to end America's dependence on foreign oil, improve public schools and cut health care costs. He said that if he was elected, he would ask former vice president Al Gore be the "global representative on global warming," and former president Bill Clinton to spend a year in Middle East.

“Then Dodd said that Roos could spend a night in the Lincoln Bedroom.

Roos said he was impressed with Dodd's ‘depth.’”

A good time was had by all.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Plan B, The Courant Panics

This is a commentary on an editorial that recently appeared in the Hartford Courant under the title, “Plan B Can’t Wait.” Some data, here provided in italics, was not included in the editorial.

Up to 8 percent of sexually assaulted women in the United States become pregnant with the assailant's child. Some undoubtedly do so because hospitals fail to help them in time. The consequences can be devastating.

And some undoubtedly do because they choose not to avail themselves of hospital services. What is the breakdown?

Rape counselors have documented widespread negligence in Connecticut hospitals when it comes to making emergency contraception available to victims of sexual assault.

Of the negligent hospitals, what percentage are non-Catholic?

Connecticut Sexual Assault Crisis Services counselors who accompanied rape victims to hospitals in the first half of 2006 say that 40 percent of them were offered too little or none of the so-called Plan B drug.

That figure, in the future, is bound to be reduced, if only because Plan B is more readily available now than when the figures were taken, especially in Connecticut, where a suit was brought forcing pharmacies to provide the drug over the counter, without prescription. Since the editorial is concerned primarily with Catholic hospitals, why does the paper not provide a statistical breakdown.

Some 500 rape victims go to Connecticut hospitals for emergency treatment every year. If the rape counselors are right, that means 200 women and girls are receiving insufficient protection.

That is an interpolated figure. Why aren’t real figures available?

Sixteen of those women are statistically at risk of becoming pregnant and could, if they don't act fast, undergo surgical abortions later.

In the last year, how many rape victims to whom Catholic hospitals did not provide Plan B thereafter became pregnant and were forced to seek an abortion? When Victim Advocate James Papillo said during legislative testimony some time ago that he had received no complaints concerning Catholic hospitals in his official capacity, he was denounced and told he had put his job in jeopardy. At the time, the usual defenders of the First Amendment in Connecticut ingloriously bit their tongues

Catholic hospitals balk at providing emergency contraception because the church believes Plan B destroys the life begun when a woman's egg is fertilized by sperm. But scientists say Plan B may prevent fertilization.

True, but it cannot “prevent” fertilization after fertilization has occurred. After fertilization, Plan B destroys a developing fetus. The Catholic Church regards the intentional destruction of a fetus as an abortion, and scientist who regard the birth process as beginning with fertilization would agree with them.

The drug also works by stopping the fertilized egg from attaching to the uterus. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says pregnancy begins at the point of implantation. So do federal regulations, which state that "pregnancy encompasses the period of time from implantation until delivery." Because of this, several states, including Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York, require all hospitals to dispense Plan B.

Catholic hospitals also dispense Plan B for rape victims – except in cases where fertilization may occur, a datum omitted from the Courant editorial.

As lawmakers, scientists and theologians argue over when life begins, hundreds of sexually assaulted girls and women in Connecticut are given little or no say in a matter that is far from an abstract parsing of medical terms for them.

Doctors and pharmacists should not be forced to act against their consciences. But an injured woman must get the safe and legal care she needs as quickly as possible, to avoid even more harm. She shouldn't have to hospital-shop desperately for contraceptives in the dead of night when pharmacies are closed and the odds of stopping pregnancy decrease with every passing hour.

Plan B is effective when taken within 48 hours of a rape. In the case of a woman who may be pregnant, has been raped and has been brought to a Catholic Hospital, the hospital will provide transportation to other facilities that provide Plan B well within that time period. The Catholic hospitals in Connecticut are within a half hour drive of non-Catholic hospitals. If the Courant had mentioned this data, readily available, in its editorial, its readers might have paused a bit before considering forcing Catholics in a Catholic hospital to violate their conscience by providing Plan B to patients when it is readily available by other means. Remember, Catholic hospitals require Catholics to refrain from providing Plan B – which may be an abortifacient after ovulation has occurred –only if the victim may be pregnant. The editorial also does not mention that the Catholic Church reserves its most severe punishment – excommunication – for those Catholics who assist in the procuring of an abortion. The editorial also does not mention that the US Constitution provides that the governing authority can make no law “prohibition the free exercise” of religion, which would be the case if the state of Connecticut were to force Catholics to sin against their conscience by providing a medical remedy that is widely available and can be utilized by other means.

There must be someone inside every hospital, whether secular or religious, who will offer, immediately, the compassionate help a distraught and wounded woman needs.

But posting someone inside Catholic hosptials to provide Plan B to patients who may be pregnant degrades the specifically Catholic mission of the hospital and forces its employees to act against their conscience, and the Courant has already declared in the editorial cited that "Doctors and pharmacists should not be forced to act against their consciences."

"Should not" should mean should not.

Copyright 2007, Hartford Courant


Thursday, January 25, 2007

Blumenthal’s Quick Fix Is No Fix

Attorney General Richard Blumenthal’s quick fix solution to soaring energy prices – impose a “windfall” profits tax on the greedy captains of the energy industry – will not fix the problem.

His pseudo-solution to high energy prices in Connecticut -- caused by an insufficient energy transmission system and the absence of competition in the energy market – is likely to worsen the problem in the long run.

The powerful Speaker of the House of Representative, Jim Amann, so far has resisted the tune piped by Blumenthal. He may have been fully awake in his high school Economics 101 class when the teacher explained that companies do not pay taxes – not even taxes labeled, for the edification of the general public, “windfall profit taxes.” Companies are tax collectors not tax payers. If you demand they pay a windfall profits tax, they will collect the tax from consumers in the form of higher prices charged for their product. All business taxes result in higher prices or – when they are state or local taxes – business flight. A Connecticut profits tax imposed on a business that operates in other states will be collected from non-Connecticut consumers in the form of higher prices; if the higher prices make the company less competitive, the company will seek to lower its costs by withdrawing services from Connecticut.

According to a Hartford newspaper report, “If the (windfall profit) tax is adopted, homeowners and businesses faced with some of the highest electric rates in the country could see credits on their bills - at the expense of the companies churning out the juice.”

That juicy line easily could have been written by Blumenthal himself, who briefly had a fling at journalism in college. It contains a grain of truth. Under the Blumenthal inspired bill, one coal-fired plant in Bridgeport owned by New Jersey-based PSEG Power and the Millstone nuclear power station in Waterford, owned by Virginia-based Dominion Resources would surrender 50 cents on the dollar of excess profits to state government, which then might pass it on to ratepayers. It has been determined that other energy providers in the state are not making profits sufficient enough to provide a gross profit tax rebate to the state.

A number of things, most of them bad, will happen should Blumenthal’s bill make it past Amann’s discerning eye.

If the stockholders of Dominion Resources decide that the windfall profits tax so diminishes their profits that it will be no longer profitable for them to supply energy to Connecticut, they will press the company to do business elsewhere – and Connecticut will have lost yet another energy supplier. Other energy suppliers will “get the message” and avoid doing business in the state. So then, there are two unintended consequences that are certain to follow in the wake of Blumenthal’s bill: Energy supplies in the state will be diminished in the long run because energy suppliers, reading the writing on the wall, will have determined it is not profitable to do business in Connecticut; and the tax rebate, if that is what it is, will be self terminating -- because you cannot pluck a golden egg from a golden goose that has fled the coup.

Now then, let us reason together. Connecticut’s energy prices are high because demand is high and there are too few energy suppliers meeting the demand. There are only two ways to provide a long term fix to this problem. You can reduce demand by imposing a consumption tax on consumers, a windfall profits tax in reverse; or you can increase the supplies. More energy providers would reduce the cost of energy without any assistance from self aggrandizing attorneys general or legislators who fancy they are Teddy Roosevelt battling corrupt trusts that have cornered the energy market.

For the past two decades, under prodding from Blumenthal, Connecticut has pursued a policy that has constricted the supply of energy to Connecticut. The resulting increases in the price of energy, due also to the state’s inadequate transmission lines, serve as a consumption tax on ratepayers. Remember -- companies don’t pay taxes; ratepayers do.

Blumenthal and his enablers in the legislature have now been reduced to this: They have only two energy companies to plunder – two! That’s it. There ain’t no more. And there will be no more. Energy providers that might otherwise consider entering the state to do business will steer clear of the “profit tax state.”

Deregulation of energy is in Connecticut not a process that has been tried and found wanting. It is a process that has been subverted by policies pursued by Blumenthal that help him – and, in the long run, no one else.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

McEnroe Starts the Great Debate

A threatened veto – no matter the bill – is always an invitation to the opposition to strut their views, which will have no live consequences because a veto is, among other things, a prophylactic that prevents the germination of consequences.

Therefore, a pre-announced veto by Rell on bills to legalize the marriage of gays is a most welcomed opportunity for the opposition to ventilate their views and snag a few votes from gays and their supporters. Though the veto makes winning on the issue unlikely rather than impossible– the Democrats do, after all, have a veto proof margin in the legislature -- the supporters of the vetoed measure have everything to win and nothing to loose.

The likelihood of another bill legalizing marriage for gays has re-opened the debate on gay marriage. Talk show host and columnist Colin McEnroe was first out of the gate in support of gay marriage. A Yale graduate and an Illuminati, McEnroe advances a compelling argument that might serve to open a reasonable debate on the issue. McEnroe’s remarks are in italics.

Connecticut is poised to consider, again, the idea of same sex marriage. It came up on the show today, and I have been hearing, ever since, this type of argument:

Why for instance can't an adult daughter marry
her mother? If they are consenting adults? If it's a matter of law – change the law. You have no problem doing that with gay marriage proper.

If you redefine marriage there is simply no logical or legal end as to what can eventually be defined as marriage. Then marriage becomes meaningless...

1. First of all, the slippery slope argument is basically an argument made by people who don't want to argue the point itself. It's as if I said: if I let you ban abortions, how do I know you won't ban vasectomies next? And then heart bypasses! And soon, I won't be able to have any surgery at all! Obviously, that's a foolish argument.

It sure is. But then McEnroe is a master at constructing foolish arguments and placing them in the mouths of his debating opponents.

The right way to discuss it is to discuss whether or not we should ban abortions or, perhaps, whether we can come to an accommodation on the topic.

But then, of course, there are different kinds of abortion, some more offensive than others. Here in the United States, the Supreme Court ruled in Roe v Wade that abortion is to be unrestricted up to the third month, when the fetus becomes viable, after which the states may regulate abortion. But China permits the state to regulate births through contraception, abortion and other means. This may be offensive to certain women’s groups here in the United States which have successfully argued that the decision to have an abortion should be made by the pregnant woman in consultation with her doctor. The state should bug off. State forced abortions, practiced here in the United States, certainly would make McEnroe and other pro-abortion advocates uncomfortable, and yet, applying the McEnroe rule – ancillary concerns should play no part in the discussion of abortion; we may only discuss whether abortion should be banned – would make it impossible to prohibit the hateful practice. Actually, the “what comes next” people do have a point when they argue that partial birth abortion – it came next after the US Supreme Court decreed that states statutes prohibiting abortion from the moment of conception were unconstitutional – might reasonably be opposed even by people who think some forms of abortion should be allowed. However, none of this would figure in a debate on abortion monitored by McEnroe. He would not allow such incidental concerns to bear on the debate.

1a. Similarly, if we debate gay marriage, let's debate that, and not the blizzard of other things that might happen later. If Incest Makes a Family wants to introduce its own bill later, we'll debate that separately ... on its separate merits. I, personally, will not support the legalization of incest.

The question before the court is not: What is pleasing to McEnroe? Upon what ground can the legalization of incest, and other practices McEnroe might find repulsive, be opposed: That is the more important question.

I do support gay marriage. I can tell the difference between the two. Hooray for me!

1b. Ah, you say, but if you act as though marriage laws are fungible, you've opened the floodgates. Nonsense. There were anti-miscegenation laws in this country until 1967! They were eventually repealed. I assume you think that's a good thing. But it didn't make other marriage laws change.

2.The above is by far the more important argument, but let's not pretend that the two conditions are equivalent.

Imagine that, in your neighborhood, you have on one side of your house Mel and Mike, a gay couple in a long term relationship. On the other side of your house live Marty and Mildred, a father and daughter who also have a long term relationship. Marty has sex with his daughter Mildred.

Guess what? Those two households are not currently equivalent in the eyes of the law or of society. Mel and Mike are tolerated by both. Marty and Mildred are reviled and subject to criminal prosecution.

This is true for the moment, but moments pass into history. The laws having been modified for gays, why should they not be modified for incestuous couples? It is not enough to point out that McEnroe sees a distinction between the two cases, finding one tolerable and the other repugnant. These are private feelings, always subject to change. The fact that some gay bashing McEnroe, in pre-enlightenment days, long ago found homosexuality repulsive did not prevent the advent of new and more acceptable feelings about gays. Why should an enlightened freedom loving society not follow the same course in the case of incest, which need not result in the production of children, since birth preventatives are available? Why shouldn’t polygamy be allowed? Considered as a social arrangement, polygamy has decided advantages. For instance, children would be attended by more mothers, and a family that contains 1000 wives would be, purely from an economic perspective, more stable than two party households. The important question is not who prefers what; in a democracy, people should be free, up to a certain point, to be their potty old selves. The important question is: Upon what grounds may society say to individual arrangements, “This shall not stand.”

Another way to look at it is this. Imagine yourself at lunch with Dick Cheney and his pregnant daughter Mary. Would you be telling them that Mary's relationship with Heather Poe has no better moral or legal status, to you, than if Dick Cheney left his wife and decided to marry his daughter and make her pregnant?

Explain to me how you would make that case to Dick and Mary. I personally don't think it should be legal for Dick Cheney to have sex with his daughter and make her pregnant.

I do believe Heather and Mary should be allowed to marry, if they want to. I can tell the difference between those two ideas. Hooray for me!

But, getting on the far side of feeling, mere personal preferences, how will McEnroe make incest illegal, and keep it so? Here are some passages on adult incest from Wikipedia:

“Incestuous relations between adults, such as between an adult brother and sister, are illegal in most parts of the industrialized world. These laws are sometimes questioned on the grounds that such relations do not harm other people (provided the couple have no children) and so should not be criminalized. Proposals have been made from time to time to repeal these laws — for example, the proposal by the Australian Model Criminal Code Officer's Committee discussion paper "Sexual Offenses against the Person" released in November 1996. (This particular proposal was later withdrawn by the committee due to a large public outcry. Defenders of the proposal argue that the outcry was mostly based on the mistaken belief that the committee was intending to legalize sexual relations between parents and their minor children.)

"In the wake of the Lawrence v. Texas (539 U.S. 558 2003) decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, striking down laws criminalizing homosexual sodomy as unconstitutional, some have argued that by the same logic laws against consensual adult incest should be unconstitutional. Some civil libertarians argue that all private sexual activity between consenting adults should be legal, and its criminalization is a violation of human rights — thus, they argue that the criminalization of consensual adult incest is a violation of human rights. In Muth v. Frank (412 F.3d 808), the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals interpreted the case applying to homosexual activity, and refused to draw this conclusion from Lawrence, however — a decision that attracted mixed opinions.

In France, incest isn't a crime in itself. Incestuous relations between an adult and a minor are prohibited and punished by law, but not between two minors or two adults.”

It would be interesting to know if McEnroe is repulsed by the French (forgive the pun) position. If he is offended to the point of proposing a law forbidding the practice, how would he construct the law in such a way as to preseve it from attacks from a possible future opposition made up of pro-incest groups and their sympathizers? How would McEnroe handle the argument that adults ought to be able to express their first amendment rights under the privacy provisions of the US Constitution, as interpreted by libertarian judges, provided no children are involved and the activity is mutually agreed upon?

Monday, January 22, 2007

The New McCarthyites

“One of the great sorrows of modern public life in Connecticut is the way it discolors the otherwise spotless” – Colin McEnroe

McEnroe was referring to Leonard Boyle, the current commissioner of The Department of Public Safety, but he might easily have been talking about former state police Maj. Gregory Senick, an apparently spotless servant of the people whose reputation was discolored by an overzealous prosecution, while the paper McEnroe writes for, the Hartford Courant, spurred on the prosecutorial harpies.

McEnroe’s comment is worth quoting in full:

“One of the great sorrows of modern public life in Connecticut is the way it discolors the otherwise spotless. I have never heard a bad word said about Leonard Boyle, but the actions of his department now make him look like the head of the secret poice (sic). In my one conversation with Boyle, he semed (sic) like a stand-up guy.

“Now he's apparently shopping his resume around. As you can see, the Moodygate story sticks to him like a Marco Polo canape (sic), and the internal affairs mess, very much the fault of his predecessor, Spadaman, is slopping around Boyle's shoes."

In McEnroeland, “Spadaman” is the otherwise spotless Judge Arthur Spada, commissioner of the Department of Public Safety when the not spotless John Rowland was governor. The view around the Courant after Rowland was hauled off to jail was that pretty nearly everyone connected with the felonious governor was, well, spotted – even if they weren’t. Spada ran afoul of union leaders, who were determined to ditch him. And Senick, once his chief of staff, was a close friend and associate. Guilt by association generally has been recognized as one of the more virulent curses of McCarthyism.

Spada additionally had come under fire because he was friendly with radio talk show host Brad Davis, an otherwise spotless conservative, who was friendly with Rowland. Davis is a former US marine, and once the marines dig in on a position, they do not easily give it up. In connection with Davis and Rowland, one thinks of Priam attempting to reclaim Hector’s battered body from Achilles: Enough already!

The new McCarthyites at the Courant, including the spotless McEnroe, pursued Christine Regaglia like fanged furies and finally were successful in persuading Gov. Jodi Rell to fire her, even though, as was mentioned in an underreported blog and column, she was “more sinned against than sinning:”

“It’s difficult to predict at this remove what bit part some future Pulitzer Prize winning reporter – There are probably dozens of them banging away at computer terminals as I write -- will assign to Ragaglia. From the little that is know so far, she appears to be a woman more sinned against than sinning. Apparently, she suffered from an alcoholic problem, doubtless brought on by Alibozak’s attentions. And, of course, Rowland’s chief aide Peter Ellef and William Tomasso, both recently sentenced for peculation and incurable stupidity, would drive a saint to drink.”

There are varying degrees of spottiness, but in Connecticut's media, particularly in matters having to do with Rowland, the quality of mercy is very strained and sifted. Regaglia certainly assisted in the prosecution of Rowland. So did Alibozak, the singing canary far more culpable than Regaglia, but Alibozak – who at one point buried gold coins given him by Tomasso -- got off with barely a warning. The Courant objected editorially to the lenient sentence, which did not include jail time.

But the Courant was relentless in its pursuit of Spada’s ex-chief of staff, churning out several stories that made Senick wonder, after a jury vindicated him and prosecutors “quietly” dropped all charges, how he was going to get his reputation back.

One way to get it back is to persuade the new McCarthyites that Senick, after being vindicated in one trial, now finds himself in roughly the same position as Ken Krayeske, the new cause célèbre among the kind of people who hold rallies for those oppressed by the heavy hand of the Old McCarthyites.

The anti-Senick parade is led, as one might expect, by Connecticut’s chief bully, Attorney General Richard Blummenthal, who promises to further deplete Senick’s bank account by pursuing a civil case against him. Senick’s criminal jury not only found him innocent of all charges after a short deliberation; it also reprimanded the prosecutor for having persecuted him without cause.

The parade goes on and on and on, rolling over all in its path. And all those courageous enough to stop it have joined it, all but Ken Krayeske, who has his own similar problems.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Obama vs Hillary

The slinging of mud has already begun in the campaign for president. Some suspect Hillary has dirt on her fingers.

"An investigation of Mr. Obama by political opponents within the Democratic Party has discovered that Mr. Obama was raised as a Muslim by his stepfather in Indonesia. Sources close to the background check, which has not yet been released, said Mr. Obama, 45, spent at least four years in a so-called Madrassa, or Muslim seminary, in Indonesia."

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Telling It Like It Is

Victor David Hansen, author of “A War Like No Other,” an account of he Peloponnesian Wars, looks into the future from the vantage point of an American defeat in Iraq.

When “Can’t” Means “Can”

The headline on the Political Money Line story ran, “Sen. Dodd Not To Run for Re-Election In 2010, Uses PAC to Buy NH and IA Voter Files.” And the story, unaccountably, was not followed by the usual scurrying for position that would attend the announcement by a multi-term US senator that he does not intend to run for his seat when his term expires.

Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, presently in charge of Dodd’s presidential campaign in Connecticut, who has declined several times to run for governor because, it had been rumored, he really was interested in being a US senator, did not prematurely leap in front of the cameras to announce his availability, and Kevin Sullivan, once a heartbeat away from the governor’s mansion but now in semi-retirement, bit his tongue.

But really “Dodd Not To Run For Re-Election In 2010,” No kidding! Sup with that?

The morning’s paper explained it all: The shocking announcement sent to the Federal Election Commission by Dodd’s lawyer was just a necessary precondition, a little white lie, so that Dodd would be able to shift campaign funds from his senatorial to his presidential coffers and back again, should he lose his presidential bid.

Under present campaign finance regulations, such shifting of funds is frowned upon. But to a lawyer’s ears – and Dodd is a lawyer, among his other accomplishments – the rule simply means that a senator who is a candidate for president need only send a letter to the FEC announcing he will not campaign for senator after his term expires, and then he may shift to his presidential account money he has gathered from those who gave on the presumption that they were contributing to a US senator and not a future president of the United States.

But suppose Dodd loses his bid to be president, impossible as this may seem, and suppose his senatorial ambitions resurface immediately upon his presidential loss. May he then reverse the process, have his lawyer write another little white lie to the FEC, and by these means – perfectly legal, mind you – recover for his senatorial bid the money he had promised to use only for presidential bid?

He may indeed. And the transaction will not only be legal; it will be ethically irreproachable as well.

How do we know this?

Because, you silly, Blumenthal, a veritable white knight of ethical probity, is the Connecticut chairman of Dodd’s presidential campaign, and snowballs would freeze in Hell before Blumenthal would permit Dodd’s campaign to be besmirched by ethical improprieties. Furthermore – and this really disposes of all petty objections – John McCain, author of the McCain/Feingold campaign finance regulations – did exactly the same thing, according to a report in the Journal Inquirer, in his 2000 presidential campaign.

If these two unassailable arguments do not completely win the public’s confidence that it is perfectly ethical to a) state in a letter to the FEC that your senatorial career will not extend beyond the present term and then later, when your best laid presidential plans have been torn asunder, b) contrive to use the funds to support both a presidential and a senatorial bid, think of this: If this transparent attempt to dodge campaign finance regulations were not perfectly ethical, would not Connecticut’s corrupt-averse media have made a grand fuss about it?

There has been no fuss. Blumenthal is down with it, McCain is down with it. Ergo: No ethical impropriety has occurred.

There are two times in a man’s life when “can’t” means “can.”

Children, Dodd certainly knows, having been blessed with two lovely children late in his course in life, may be willfully perverse. Full of the will to believe, young children sometime can convince themselves that their made up fantasies are true. That is why they are able to lie with such conviction. As they grow towards the truth, their parents try, with varying degrees of success, to wean them from these and other bad habits by convincing them that there is an objectively verifiable world outside their craniums that may bring them sharply up if they fail to take its measure.

Sometimes parents are successful, sometimes not. When they fail, the objectively verifiable world will correct its charges – none too kindly.

Some children, luckier than others, grow up to be politicians; and there, surrounded by admirers and lawyers and unchecked ambition, what a field for self delusion opens up to them. The whispers in the child’s ear -- how easy it is to deceive others when first one has deceived oneself -- are set loose in imaginary fields of daisy and clover.

After which, reality intervenes.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Always The Bridesmaid...

First Sen. Chris Dodd, now running for president, announced the event on the Don Imus show; then he gave several interviews in Washington DC, the senator’s theatre of operation, where the anti-President George Bush war room is located; then he went on the stump in Iowa and South Carolina where, along with congressional pal Sen. Joe Biden, he called upon the citizens of that great state to remove the confederate flag, now on display within sight of the capital building, to a museum of their choosing, where it belongs; then he went back to base camp in Washington DC to hobble the efforts of the president to raise troop levels in Iraq, though he has not yet demanded that Bush be removed to a museum; and finally – ta’da, a flourish of trumpets please! – the tribunes of the people have reported that Dodd will on Friday, Jan. 18 – mark it on your calendars -- return to his home state to tell the good old boys that he is running for president. A little late, grumbled the Hartford Courant’s chief political writer, David Lightman.

Ah Connecticut -- always the bridesmaid, never the bride – why do you put up with these flirtatious smiles and come hither looks, when you know Dodd has pledged his troth to others, several others?

Dodd unofficially opened his campaign on October 16, when he gave a speech, “Moral Authority in the 21st Century: Lessons from Nuremberg,” to the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, the village that helped raise Sen. Hillary Clinton to be a candidate for president.

The speech is noteworthy, among other reasons, because it demonstrates a profound misunderstanding on Dodd’s part of the uses of war, a topic that future commanders-in-chief should be well versed in.

Dodd conflates war and peace in his speech and seems unable to grasp the notion that wars successfully prosecuted by virtuous nations historically have been followed by long stretches of peace and prosperity.

The American Revolution, prosecuted successfully by George Washington -- whose military success was at least as important to the new nation as his political prowess -- was followed by a long stretch of internal peace, until the first shots of the Civil War were fired at Fort Sumner. The founders of the American Republic proposed a novel answer to the first and most important of political questions: Who shall rule? But it was the war against Great Britain that decided the issue. Had Washington and his rag-tailed troops lost the war, all the blessings we now cherish – our form of government and our very freedom – would have been aborted in the womb. The same is true of the Civil War, which answered two questions: Lincoln’s question, “Can we remain permanently half free and half slave?” and the question of unity, “Are we one nation, indivisible?” These questions, both present in the blood stream of the American Republic at its bloody birth, were not settled by diplomats, congresses and presidents. The victors in two successfully prosecuted wars decided these issues.

With a curtsey to his father, Senator Tom Dodd, a fierce proponent of liberty and freedom and an ardent anti-communist, Dodd in his speech tied the “moral authority” exercised by the United States in the post war period to peacemakers whose feet were firmly planted on “the path of engagement and multilateralism” and who provided in Europe and Japan a “new hope for progress in impoverished nations, and a growing international acceptance for legal standards that recognize the inherent worth and rights of all human beings.”

All this is true. But Dodd pointedly does not acknowledge in his speech that the indispensable precondition of all the blessings that followed in the bloody wake of World War II was that the United States and its allies were the victors who shaped the peace that followed the war. The victors of that war and their allies imposed terms of peace on the vanquished. The United States forced democracy on Japan but were less successful in Germany, which was partitioned; the Soviets dictated the terms of peace in East Germany.

The point Dodd will not acknowledge is this: Who wins a war matters, because the victors in a war shape the peace that follows. The founders of the American Republic could not have negotiated a Bill of Rights with Britain had Washington been decisively defeated in battle. If the troops marshaled by General Eisenhower at D-Day had not prevailed over the Germans, no Nuremberg trial, celebrated by Dodd in his speech as a harbinger of peace and good will, would have followed the war. What is lost in a war cannot be recovered through diplomatic ventures.

It would be cheering to hear presidential candidate Dodd acknowledge this lesson of history in one of his future campaign speeches. But, of course, such an acknowledgement in present conditions might open what is in Connecticut amusingly called the "debate" on the Iraq war to a discussion of the consequences of victory and defeat, and there are some subjects prospective Democrat presidential candidates would like to smother in silence.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Perez Says “Yes” To No Child Left Behind

In the pitch black of Connecticut’s pedagogical urban wilderness, a flickering candle is whipped by the wind.

Comments On A Speech Delivered By Senator Chris Dodd To The Council On Foreign Relations, October 16, 2006

Dodd’s speech, a little outdated since he has modified his opinions several times since, was titled, “Moral Authority in the 21st Century: Lessons from Nuremberg.” During the past few weeks, Dodd's position on Iraq has evolved to meet changes in president Bush's strategy. He has, variously, agreed to increases in troop levels, and most recently proposed a bill that would restrict the president from increasing troop levels in Iraq.

“In a time of war, I have come to our Council today to speak about peace.

“Not the kind of peace that is merely the absence of armed conflict.

“Not the uneasy and uncertain peace of adversaries warily eying each other over material and philosophical barricades.

“Certainly not the false peace of slogans emblazoned on naval warships.”

NB But it was precisely the naval warships of World War II, some of which were emblazoned with slogans, and aircraft also emblazoned with war-talk that brought a lasting peace to Europe.

“Rather, I speak of a peace that is rooted in mutual respect and understanding, in open commerce and individual freedom, in a shared commitment to resolve differences other than by violence, and in the common values of all humanity.”

NB This is a good description of the peace of allies in times of peace. It is not the sort of relationship one may reasonably expect between the United States and, say, the leaders of Hezbollah.

“Even at the outset of World War II, Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Winston Churchill set out, in the remarkable Atlantic Charter, to try to ensure that no such titanic conflict (as World Warr II) could ever take place again. That work was further advanced in the city of Nuremberg, Germany, within days of the war’s end.”

NB But the important point to notice, surely, is that the Nuremburg trials occurred after the war had been concluded. The defeat of Germany was the necessary precondition of those trials. Dodd, in this speech and elsewhere, tends to conflate war and peace. And he fails to make proper distinctions between President Amadinajad of Iran and, say, the honorable senator from the great state of Massachussetts. Are they not both reasonable?

“Among other insights, the letters (his father wrote to his mother during the Nuremberg trials) help us recall that there was by no means agreement among the Allied powers about how the fate of Nazi leaders should be determined.”

NB But there was universal agreement that once the war had been concluded, the fate of Germany would be determined not by Nazis but by the victorious allies; and so it happened. Among other things, war determines who shall make the peace. A peace made by Germany would not have ended in Nuremberg trials or many of the other blessings Dodd mentions in his address. In fact, Dodd perversely refused in his discourse to acknowledge that long term peace is often brought to nations by hawks rather than doves. The American Revolution, decisively won by Washington and the Continental Army, brought an internal peace that lasted until the first shots of the Civil War. The Revolutionary War settled the question that all wars seek to settle: Who shall rule? The Civil War settled questions haunting the early republic concerning national unity and slavery. Both questions had been tossed around by diplomats, congressmen and presidents since the founding of the country but remained unresolved until the questions were finally settled by the bloodiest of wars up to that time. And the war, won decisivly by the North, did settle the questions and divisions in the country. Wars in which there is a decisive winner do that.

“After Nuremberg, (NB Dodd means to say “After Germany and Japan had been defeated…”) our leaders went further and argued for international institutions that would serve the common good of all nations.”

“The path of engagement and multilateralism created stable nations in Europe and Japan, new hope for progress in impoverished nations, and a growing international acceptance for legal standards that recognize the inherent worth and rights of all human beings. It was exactly the kind of world in which America could prosper—and we did, as did our allies.”

NB Well now, let’s not get carried away. We – the victors of World War II – imposed on Japan terms of surrender that included the democratization of the country. Germany was a deicer situation, because terms were also imposed on East Germany by the Soviets, who manifestly were not interested in preserving democratic forms.

“But today, in my opinion, the path of isolation has gained a regrettable ascendancy. It is clear that the world is not only ‘questioning the moral basis of our war on terror,’ as Colin Powell recently said—it is doubting America’s moral authority itself.”

NB Sadly, this is true, but Democrats in the US Congress, the New York Times editorial board and Colin Powell do not represent the entire world, and no one – least of all Colin Powell – questions that the moral authority of the United States will vanish like smoke if, upon a retreat without victory in Iraq, the forces of death and anarchy are set loose in the Middle East.

“We have been the country that respects privacy, not the country that breaks our own laws to spy on our citizens without warrant.”

NB But war does – and should – change things, though not permanently. Even Washington relied on intelligence brought to him by spies. Lincoln abolished Habeas Corpus during the Civil War for political and military reasons. He did not want to encourage draft revolts in cities like New York. Nathan Hale was hung for spying upon his countrymen.

“Above all, we have been a country were no one is above the law, not a country of unchecked central authority and executive fiat.”

NB To every season there is a time and a purpose. But even in the present war, the powers of the president are not absolute. The Congress may “check” decisions made by the commander-in-chief of the armed forces by denying him funds to prosecute the war. Senator Edward Kennedy, an ardent peace hawk, has threatened to do precisely that. It will be interesting in the coming days to see if Dodd, now campaigning for the presidency, joins Kennedy his efforts to de-finance the unchecked authority of the president. Presently some Democrats are backing a non-binding resolution in the Democrat controlled legislature that opposes an increase in troop levels in Iraq. Dodd has offerd a bill that would force the president to involve the Democrat controlled congress should he find it necessary to increase troop levels in the future. It must be said that Kennedy's view of the matter is at least logical and more persuasive. If the war in Iraq is immoral and without a larger purpose, and if the president is obdurate in its prosecution, and if ending the war will better secure the interests of the United States, then the president's obduracy can be broken only if Congress de-finances the war. If Dodd takes his own rhetorical effusions seriously, he will join Kennedy, who, since he is not this year running for the presidency, can afford to be more bold than Dodd.

“Our ability to threaten is still unmatched—but our power to lead is sorely endangered. Our ability to advance our nation’s vital interests is compromised. In that regard, the isolationism of the 1920s and the unilateralism of recent years bear a striking resemblance.”

NB The ability to lead generally is not enhanced when countries lose wars. After World War II, the Unites States was able to lead much of the world – other than that part of it attached by apron strings and terror to the Soviet Union (Cuba is an example) – because the country was victorious in the war.

“Isolation—whether the passive isolation of the 20’s, or the aggressive isolation of Iraq—brings failure. Our best hope for a more peaceful world lies in engagement, example, authority.”

NB War is engagement raised to the tenth power, diplomacy by other means. We are losing what Bush has been pleased to call “the war on terror” both in the Middle East and on the home front; that certainly is true. Under present circumstances in Iraq and at home, we could not have won World War II. The press, Congress and Hollywood backed the “good war.”

“…and by countering radical Islam, we can help create a world that better respects and reflects our values.

NB Will withdrawing from the primary theatre of battle without victory better enable us to counter radical Islam?

“Kim Jong Il was always unreliable, always seeking to press ahead toward nuclear weapons, but saw enough incentives and credible threats not to do so. But now, we have what the military calls a fact on the ground.

“We have two options. The first one is to destroy the nuclear capacity. That means war—a costly and dangerous choice.

“The second option is to contain North Korea and give it every reason to back off nuclear expansion.”

NB Dodd’s remarks proceed with out any notice that the Bush administration has had some success – with a little help from John Bolton, our delegate to the UN – in persuading the Chinese to put pressure on their client state, Korea. Bolton is no longer the US delegate to the UN, largely owing to Dodd’s vigorous opposition to his nomination. In the one case where diplomacy seemed to be working, Dodd set fire to the pants of the successful diplomatist – and at a time when we were fully engaged peacefully with China.

“The Security Council’s recent unanimous vote to sanction North Korea is an important start—but it is only a start.

“We should state without question that use of any nuclear capability originating from North Korea, against the United States or our allies, will be considered an attack on the United States, and will be dealt with accordingly.”

NB But from the point of view of one urging peace upon the world, is it wise diplomacy to state such things publicly – especially when cowboys are in the White House? My guess is that Dodd knows that much of what he is suggesting has already been accomplished. And it has been done behind the scenes, through secret diplomacy, involving other important states that that may or may not be formal allies of the United States.

“In North Korea, and in Iran as well, we ought to continue to pursue bilateral talks.”

NB Bilateral talks were not successful in Korea during the Carter administration. North Korea said “yes” to Carter’s entreaties, and proceeded to develop its nuclear capacity anyway. Multi-country talks with North Korea, involving China and other nations, have been partly successful. Dodd’s argument that we should abandon success for failure will strike some diplomats as unpersuasive.

“We should begin immediately to reposition our troops to Kurdistan, where there is relative law and order, and where they would be more accepted; to other, less populated areas of Iraq, where their training of Iraqi forces can continue; and to border areas, where they can protect the territorial integrity of Iraq until Iraqi forces can do so themselves."

NB The opposition will follow United States troops like its shadow, where ever they go. They will engage the United States wherever they are: That was the clear message of 9/11. The insurgency, homegrown but foreign fed, is being financed by Iran and Syria, and it is this reality on the ground that has persuaded some pragmatists that direct talks with belligerent nations such as Syria and Iran would not be advisable. Instead, the Bush administration appears to be exerting pressure on Both Iran and Syria through third parties such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt. That kind of diplomacy, to be successful, must occur behind the curtain and not at center stage.

“US forces should also be repositioned to military bases in Kuwait and Qatar where they can be available to protect our national security interests—and to Afghanistan, where we must redouble our efforts to capture bin Laden, dismantle al Qaeda, and neutralize the Taliban.

NB Disposing of bin Laden is far less important than prevailing in Iraq. And how do you dismantle the terrorist network by retreating from it?

“The United States must not be reluctant to turn to international and regional mediators. And regional powers like Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Jordan could be enormously helpful in this effort.”

“They all have their own interests, but surely stability in the Gulf region is among them.”

NB Dodd lumps together Iran and Saudi Arabia, Syrai and Egypt. He must know they have different purposes in mind, or he is a fool. Amadinijad is not interested in stability.

“Another is to work with our allies in gathering intelligence and pursuing terrorists. Remember, Mohammed Atta planned the 9/11 attacks from Hamburg, Germany.”

NB All this has been done -- over heated objections concerning privacy rights from Dodd’s party.

“Of course, we must never presume that terrorists can be won over—we can only capture or kill them. Our military might will remain an essential tool for doing so.”

NB Indeed, if not now, when? If not in Iraq, where?

“If we do not fill the vacuum with concrete actions that demonstrate our commitment of freedom and justice, the most hateful ideologies will.

NB Hateful ideologies came to power – in the Middle East and elsewhere – though the use of power. And power can only be answered by power. That is the enduring lesson of World War II.

“Those who argue that our moral authority compromises our nation’s effectiveness or strength miss the point entirely: Our moral authority is the basis of that strength.”

NB The moral authority of Athens was far superior to that of Sparta, and that moral authority suffered grievous harm when Athens was defeated by Sparta after the long and inglorious Peloponnesian wars. Athens lost to Sparta because Athens was riven with internal dissent and quarrels between the democrats and the aristocrats proved to be its undoing. The moral authority of Poland was superior to that of Germany and the Soviet Union, yet it did not prevail against either. The lessons of history are plain for all to see: The good guys do not always win, at least not in the short run, and sometimes not in the long run. The strength of the United States lies in the unity of the United States, both in peace and war. There are those who believe not only that we have lost the war – and the peace – here on the home front, but that, given the strictures laid down in this speech by Dodd, the United States can never win another war, not even the moral war that dances like a sugarplum in his imagination. When the congress blithly de-authorizes a war, who any longer can trust its authorization? It is one thing to imagine the future; quite another to secure it.

“I take my hope from the great works of the Nuremberg generation, from their tradition of tough-minded, principled leadership.

“I’m an optimist. I sincerely believe that, when the history of this century is written, historians will note that after a shaky and unsure start, America returned to its core, the heritage that defines it and sets it apart.”

Pangloss was an optimist (see Voltaire).

Monday, January 15, 2007

Subversion in the Court

There’s something to be said for the vigorous application of bad laws; it’s the best way to get rid of them.

The anti- capital punishment forces here in Connecticut want state prosecutors to develop a standard for the prosecution of those who commit capital felonies. Once the standard is established, it must be uniformly applied by all prosecutors in the state. A prosecution in which the standard is not uniformly applied then may be contested in court as being selective and falling outside the governing rule, providing plaintiffs accused of capital felonies with yet another useful arrow in their already crowded quiver.

Should Connecticut appellate courts agree with those now arguing that the absence of a standard for prosecution in capital felony cases is on its face unconstitutional, one need not argue the guilt or innocence of the murderer; one need only show that a prosecutor in a different district unconnected with the case had failed to prosecute in a similar instance.

A consistent application of the court rule devoutly wished for by anti-capital punishment forces would empty the prisons and crowd the courts. Judges and juries would no longer be asked to provide justice based on a consideration of the objective facts before them. The guilt or innocence of a future Michael Ross, the last person in Connecticut to be executed under the state’s capital felony laws, would not depend upon a jury’s deliberation of the evidence presented by a prosecutor – provided plaintiff lawyers were able to show that any other prosecutor in the state did not execute the standard governing prosecution that anti-death penalty opponents now are urging upon the courts.

There is no reason to suppose that the same court rule should not apply to all crimes committed in Connecticut, however minor or odious. If lawyers for serial murders are able to argue successfully that their client should be spared the death penalty because a prosecutor in a different district failed to prosecute according to a subversive standard ordered by the court, why should the same rule of court not apply to rapes or robberies or traffic tickets?

A vigorous and equitable application of the desired prosecutorial standard applied universally to all cases very shortly would convince everyone of the injustice of the rule, because justice under such conditions would not be possible. The rule, consistently applied, would instantly be recognized by all as a prosecutorial abortifacient designed to prevent a just adjudication based on the facts of a case.

Of course, it hasn’t come to this yet, because appellate courts have not ruled on the matter brought before them by anti-death penalty opponents. But the logical effect of such a rule would be to shift the determination of justice – roughly defined as the giving to a man what is due him under the law based upon his behavior and objective determinations made by judges and juries – from a judicial process uniquely designed to provide justice to an endless adjudicatory process that subtly subverts it.

Unfortunately, here in Connecticut the anti-death penalty barricades already have been erected. And those burning barricades – as was shown in a decision made by Judge Chatigny to subvert a final determination in the Michael Ross case through disgraceful bullying tactics that effectively nullified a final Supreme Court decision – run through the court system itself.

Not only did Chatigny push and shove Ross’ lawyer, T.R. Paulding, into an unnecessary hearing on the eve of Ross’ execution, he also shamelessly lied concerning his prior involvement in the case.

The pro and anti-death penalty barricades are visible in the state’s Supreme Court as well. It is no longer possible to assume that subversion through judicial decree would be unwelcome by justices who are charged under the constitution with providing justice -- even in death penalty cases.

For many on the anti-death penalty side of the barricades, ending the death penalty in Connecticut has become a question of caging the devil. And they would use any means necessary to do so. When Thomas More’s son-in-law Roper said he would cut down every law in England to cage the devil, More asked him to whom then would he apply for help when the devil turned on him -- all the laws in England having been flattened?

It is a question Connecticut justices should ponder.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Arms And The Man

According to a report in the Washington Times, The Bush administration has imposed economic sanctions against Russia, China and North Korea for supplying missiles and weapons to Iran and Syria. Senator and soon to be President Chris Dodd visited Syria recently where -- we hope -- he castigated Bashir Assad about supplying munitions that are killing American troops and innocent civilians in Iraq.

The Bush administration is imposing economic sanctions on Chinese, Russian and North Korean companies for selling missiles and weapons goods to Iran and Syria, administration officials said.

The sanctions were imposed earlier this week on three Chinese state-run companies, three Russian firms and a North Korean mining company under a 2000 arms proliferation law that was renamed Iran and Syria Nonproliferation Act in 2005.

The sanctions ban U.S. government business and support to the companies for two years and block U.S. firms from selling them items that require export licenses.

They are largely symbolic, but U.S. officials have been effective in publicly singling out companies that are engaged in selling arms to rogue states.

The Bush administration has imposed sanctions more than 40 times since 2001 as part of a more aggressive push to stop arms transfers to rogue states or unstable regions of the world.

The law requires the imposition of sanctions on companies, governments and people caught transferring missiles, weapons of mass destruction materials or advanced conventional arms to Iran or Syria.

The officials said the sanctions were imposed after an interagency review of intelligence on transfers that happened within the past two years.

Specific details of the transfers were not released, but officials said they included missile sales to Syria and arms sales and transfers of weapons-related goods to both Iran and Syria.

The sanctions ban the companies from conducting business with U.S. companies for two years and are likely to affect the Russians more than the Chinese and North Korean companies because of the potential to block sales of aircraft-related materials to U.S. manufacturers.

The Chinese companies are the Zibo Chemical Equipment Plant, which has been linked to chemical-weapons sales, the China National Aerotechnology Import Export Corp. and the China National Electrical Import and Export Co.

The Korean Mining and Industrial Development Corp. also was sanctioned for its role in the transfers. An official said the North Korean company, which was linked in the past to air shipments of missiles from North Korea to Iran, is a "serial proliferator."

The new sanctions could affect the six-nation talks on North Korea's nuclear program. Until last month, North Korea rejected further talks with five other nations because of what Pyongyang called economic sanctions against a Macao bank that U.S. officials said North Korea was using for money laundering and counterfeiting.

The sanctions also will penalize Russian state-run arms exporter Rosoboroneksport, the officials said. Two other Russian firms, Kolomna Design Bureau and the Tula Design Bureau of Instructment Building, also were sanctioned. A Russian national identified as Alexi Safonov will be sanctioned, too.

Rosoboroneksport signed deals with Syria worth $9.7 billion in May 2005 that U.S. officials said included high-technology arms such as advanced anti-tanks missiles, some of which were used during the fighting last summer between Israel and Hezbollah militants in Lebanon.

Israeli forces found Russian-made Kornet and Metis anti-tank missiles in Lebanon, and U.S. officials said the missiles may have been sold to Syria in 2002.

The Russian government exporter also signed a contract last year to sell $3 billion worth of arms to Venezuela, whose regime has emerged as key regional U.S. enemy.

Rosoboroneksport is run by Sergei Chemzov, a former KGB colleague of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

The “Ifs Ands And Buts” Of Dodd’s Presidential Campaign

This is no joke. US Sen. Chris Dodd announced his bid for the White House, according to a report in the Hartford Courant, “on the Don Imus radio show.”

Dodd's Connecticut campaign will feature the ubiquitous Attorney General Richard Blumenthal as his state chairman, and Rep. Rosa DeLauro, once Dodd’s Chief of Staff, will serve as the senator’s national co-chairman – further proof, if any were necessary, that incumbent politicians now have become petite political parties.

Is it not possible to recruit the state Democrat Party chairman to serve in the role assigned to Blumenthal, who certainly is not in need of further press coverage?

Dodd, who has about $5 million in his campaign kitty, is on the campaign road to Iowa and South Carolina. One way to win political support in such important campaign states is to purchase it, and $5 million will come in handy for this purpose. The Journal Inquirer of Manchester earlier reported that Dodd has spread his largess around in local races both in New Hampshire and Iowa.

The Courant report indicates that “Dodd will stress his 32 years in Congress, including long stints on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee - and his detailed knowledge of Latin America…”

The reddening of Latin America, a part of the world that historically has tended to swing like a pendulum between half hearted experiments in capitalism and a ruddy socialism, has been much commented upon by the media, but Dodd, known as an expert in the area, has been silent on the Castroization of Venezuela, Bolivia and, most recently, Nicaragua.

Dodd’s constituents – if they do not write for the Courant -- may recall his many trips to the area during the Sandinista/Contra hot war. No reporters were present to make a record of their discussions during Dodd’s secret negotiations with then communist leaders in Nicaragua; and recently, when Dodd and former Democrat presidential candidate John Kerry of Massachusetts had a tête-à-tête, with Syria’s leader, Hezbollah's facilitator Bashar Assad, there were no reportorial embeds present to make a record of their negotiations.

Daniel Ortega and the Sandinistas, deposed by force of arms and a muscular diplomacy, recently won the presidency in a democratic election. Ortega campaigned as a born again Catholic who had managed to escape the gravitational pull of communism, but some not-born-yesterday observers of Latin America doubt his new bona fides and suspect Ortega and his brother will, on achieving power, slip into the usual Latin America rut of denouncing the United States and nationalizing the means of production; Hugo Chavez has just announced he indends to nationalize Venezuela’s oil industry, and a free press is next on the dictator's execution block.

Some Connecticut wits think that Ortega surrendered all hope of Dodd’s approval when during his campaign he embraced the views of the pope on abortion rather than those of more enlightened Catholics such as Rosa DeLauro and former pal Chris Dodd.

Dodd, the Courant report adds, will be touting himself during his presidential campaign "as someone who can work across party and philosophical to get things done. He likes to tell audiences how he has worked with conservative senators over the years to win passage of social legislation, and how he has supported Republican presidents' nominees except in the most extreme circumstances."

In view of Dodd's unprincipled opposition to John Bolton as US delegate to the United Nations, that posture, as someone once said about a pretzel-like position in the Karma Sutra, is ridiculous.

Bolton’s success or failure as a UN delegate cannot be determined without knowing what part he and the Bush administration played behind the scenes in convincing third parties such as China to curb the ambitions of the “Dear Leader” of North Korea, Kim Jong Il. It is at least possible that the United States is pursuing a similar course with Syria and Iran. Saudi Arabia and Egypt would be more effective than the United States in persuading these two countries to stop harboring terrorists and supplying groups like Hezbollah with munitions and money.

If such back-door negotiations are in process, private negotiations between senators and the heads of Syria and Iran would be counterproductive and destructive.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

The High Price of Idiocy

Is energy a necessity or a commodity?

It’s both. It’s a necessary commodity. Food and clothing are also necessary commodities. People ask this question because they feel that if for some reason the free market is unable to provide an indispensable commodity, the necessity still must be answered, usually by government.

Energy, expensive here in the Northeast for a variety of reasons, does not yet fall into this category, though deregulation, by contributing to a surge in price, has nudged it in that direction.

The factors affecting a rise in energy costs are more complex than we are given to understand by people interested in demonologizing the energy industry.

Energy is a product delivered through transmission lines the way, say, oranges and apples are delivered to grocery stores by trucks using highways, which serve as a distribution system. Given a competitive market, the price of these commodities may be lowered through healthy competition; this was the expectation for energy prices as Connecticut moved into a deregulated market system. Competition depends on supply and demand. All things else being equal, the price of an apple in a Connecticut grocery store should be reasonable in a competitive market--provided that the product is delivered through the distribution system so that it is present in the store when the purchaser wishes to buy it. If the distribution system is in poor repair and the product does not get to market in sufficient numbers to drive down the price, apples and oranges will be expensive.

Energy is expensive here in the Northeast, among other reasons, because there are not enough transmission lines. The distributive mechanism is both insufficient and inefficient. As a consequence, there are too few units of energy chasing too many customers. Under these circumstances, the price of energy will be high, because the supply system cannot deliver the goods in sufficient numbers through the pipeline. The same would hold true with apples and oranges if the highway system in Connecticut were in such poor repair that trucks could not deliver the product to grocery stores in sufficient numbers. If the supply of energy cannot reach the customer through the pipeline, the price of energy will be high.

There is another important factor involved as well. In a deregulated market, the creation and maintenance of the transmission system depends upon investors. Uncertainty drives away investments. What produces uncertainty in the distribution of energy? Swift and unprincipled changes in what one might call the rules of the game.

In a free market system, energy producers receive capital to improve their product through investors. Think of an investor as someone placing a bet on a baseball game, and ask yourself: Would the investor be likely to place a bet if he were certain that the rules of the game would be subject to whimsical changes? Suppose two teams, Team A and Team B. Team A follows the time honored rules of baseball, but Team B changes the rules according to its fancy: Sometimes batters are ruled out after two strikes rather than three, and the distance between home plate and the pitchers mound changes every third game. Would the investor be likely to bet his money on Team A or Team B? Uncertainty drives away productive capital. Investors always will “bet” their money on a product that is more likely to increase their outlay. And uncertainties in the market, usually introduced by well meaning politicians, drive investors away.

In addition to other factors that increase the price of energy by constricting supply, unpredictability, which drives away investment, and low capacity transmission systems are the two most easily correctable factors driving up the cost of energy in Connecticut. The second requires an investment in new transmission lines – which, I mentioned tongue in cheek in another column, might require gagging Attorney General Richard Blumenthal -- and the first requires an acknowledgement on the part of legislators and others that changing rules governing the way business is conducted in the private market place often does more harm than good.

A little courage combined with humility often is more productive of good than a reckless rush forward into the unknown, and good government more often requires a cautious maintenance than radical readjustment.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

How to Think About the War

Herbert Meyer’s essay on the Iraq war, first printed in The American Thinker, has been circulating in Canada and Europe.

December 27, 2006
How to Think About the War
By Herbert E. Meyer

Whether we are winning or losing in Iraq is open to debate, but it's clear that our national conversation about the war has begun to fail. Today our elected leaders, our most influential commentators, and even ordinary Americans chatting among themselves at work or at their dinner tables, have begun to repeat their lines like wind-up dolls. All of them, and all of us, are saying the same things over and over again; what started as a conversation has become a shouting match. And when everyone is on "transmit" - but never on "receive" - we cannot hear and so we cannot learn. And if we cannot learn, we've stopped thinking.

We need to start all over again to think about the war, and we mustn't be afraid. After all, we do this with our computers all the time. When a program begins to fail - and they always do because even the simplest program is comprised of complex files that over time become damaged or corrupted -- and when re-booting once or twice doesn't do the trick, we've learned that the only thing to do is to un-install and re-install the program to get a fresh, clean start.

So, let's conduct what scientists would call a "thought experiment." In your mind's eye, go to Control Panel, click on "Add/Remove Programs," scroll down to "The War" and double-click. A box will pop on-screen asking if you really want to un-install. Click "Yes" and you will hear the hard drive chunking and see its green light flashing while the program is removed. Now, let's "re-install" the program in our minds by thinking through, from the beginning, what this war is about:

What "Politics" Really Means

When we talk about politics, we usually mean Republicans versus Democrats, or liberals against conservatives, or the looming scramble among Presidential contenders for their parties' 2008 nominations. But there's another way to talk about politics that goes deeper, and by doing so illuminates the current conflict.

Politics is the relationship between the individual and the State. And for as long as human beings have walked the Earth, we have been struggling to get this right. We've tried everything. We've had kingdoms and empires of all sizes and flavors. We've had military dictatorships, and civilian dictatorships. We've had totalitarian states like fascism on the right, and communism on the left. We've had constitutional monarchies, republics and democracies.

In a sense, each of these is an operating system. Now, we're all familiar with operating systems because we all use computers. Today, for instance, we have Microsoft's Windows operating system, Apple's OS X, Linux, and a few others. Every so often, these operating systems rub against one another in the marketplace. The results can be fairly nasty - technically and legally - but in the end these competing operating systems usually learn to live with one another. Each has its strengths and weaknesses, and consumers choose the ones they prefer.

Every so often - in business and in politics - one operating system sets out to utterly destroy all the others. In business, this goal is rarely achieved. Microsoft has a lot of money, but it hasn't got tanks. (If it did, Apple's corporate headquarters would look like a building in downtown Beirut.) But in politics, there really are tanks and other weapons. And when one political operating system sets out to obliterate all the others, the result is a global war.

If Adolf Hitler had been content to remain within Germany's borders, the results of the Nazi operating system would have been ghastly for the German people. But there would not have been World War II. If Lenin, Stalin and their heirs had been content to inflict communism solely within the Soviet Union's borders, life would have been miserable for Soviet citizens. But there would not have been a Cold War.

Now, when you look at history through the prism of operating systems, you find that one operating system has triumphed above all the others: Western Civilization. Its key features are the separation of church and state, the primacy of the individual over the State, the encouragement of artistic expression and intellectual curiosity, free enterprise, and a never-ending struggle to reach equality among the races and sexes. Like all operating systems, Western Civilization has its flaws, its shortcomings and its imperfections - as will any operating system designed and run by human beings. But by any imaginable measure, Western Civilization is history's greatest achievement.

Let's Call it "Radical Islam"

While Western Civilization developed through the centuries, another operating system also took root. Scholars argue over just what to call this operating system, but for convenience's sake let's call it Radical Islam. Its key features are the combination of church and State, the submission of individuals to this combination, the discouragement of artistic expression and intellectual curiosity, the crushing of its people's entrepreneurial talents, and the treatment of women as though they were property rather than people. Just like Western Civilization, this operating system has its flaws, its shortcomings and its imperfections. But unlike Western Civilization, Radical Islam contains a flaw that may not be correctible: it is incompatible with the modern world.

What we all learned on 9-11 is that the leaders of Radical Islam are determined to impose their operating system on us. In other words, their objective is the destruction of Western Civilization. The current conflict is our effort to prevent this from happening.

Look back at history's two most recent attacks on Western Civilization - by fascism in World War II, and by Soviet communism in the Cold War - and you may be surprised to see how sharp were the disagreements among our leaders, our commentators, and our parents and grandparents, over how best to respond. Anyone who believes that "politics" was suspended during these wars - in Washington or at the dinner table - is just plain wrong.

But there was one issue during each of these struggles upon which virtually everyone agreed: Western Civilization deserved to win. Despite its flaws, its shortcomings, and its imperfections, our "operating system" was better than the one that threatened to obliterate us. So we would fight hard - to the death, if necessary - for our survival.

Now we can understand why our conversation about the present conflict has become so fierce, so bitter, and so partisan. Today, there is a significant contingent among us who do not believe that Western Civilization is worth defending, or that our operating system deserves to survive. Those who subscribe to this perception - and they include quite a few of our elected officials - are so focused on the flaws, shortcomings and imperfections of Western Civilization that they are blind to its achievements. So while some of us are debating how to win the war, others among us want only to stop the war. This is why we are not so much talking among ourselves about what to do, but rather talking - shouting, really - past one another.

Simply put, the first decision we need to make is this: Do we intend to win this war whatever the cost? If the answer is "no," then stopping the war now is the only sensible thing to do. It would mean we have chosen to surrender Western Civilization to its enemies, and that we or, more likely, our children and grand-children, will live under the Radical Islam operating system.

If our answer is "yes" - that we intend to win this war whatever the cost - then we had better be prepared to fight with all our strength and power. To understand why, look back at our strategies for winning World War II and the Cold War. In each of these conflicts, our objective wasn't to kill people but rather to crush an operating system. We understood that most Germans weren't Nazis, and that most Russians weren't communists. They weren't the problem; it was the operating system imposed on them by their leaders that threatened us.

How the Cold War Ended

In the Cold War, we were able to crush the Soviet communist operating system without a great deal of violence - a staggering achievement for which, one day, Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, and Pope John-Paul II will be celebrated by history. The Cold War ended in 1991, when the Soviet Union ceased to exist. But in World War II, we had no choice but to shoot and bomb our way through Italy, to flatten Germany, and to drop two nuclear bombs on Japan. It was horrific, but it worked. The war ended, the fascist operating system ceased to exist, and the people on whom this operating system had been imposed found their way forward. Japan joined Western Civilization, and Italy and Germany re-joined it.

Although no one seems to have noticed, our strategy for winning the current conflict is strikingly similar to our strategies in the previous conflicts. Our enemies aren't the people on whom the Radical Islam operating system has been imposed, but rather the operating system itself. We are using military power, both in Afghanistan and Iraq, to give moderate Muslims, who comprise the vast majority, the first chance they have had to hold power in a long while. Our hope is that, over time, these moderates will develop an Islamic operating system that is compatible with the modern world and - more importantly - willing to co-exist peacefully with our operating system.

What the Bush Administration has now realized - belatedly - is that to achieve our objective we will need to use more violence than we had thought, and hoped, we would need. That is why the President is seriously considering sending more troops to Iraq. Simply put, we haven't hit the Radical Islam operating system hard enough to crush it. And this means the real issue isn't the number of soldiers we send to Iraq, and perhaps to Afghanistan, but the orders that President Bush gives to our military commanders.

If the President orders our commanders to do the best they can with additional troops to get Baghdad under control, we will merely delay our defeat and suffer more casualties along the way. But if the President's orders are to crush the Radical Islam operating system once and for all - get set for a level of violence we haven't seen since the darkest days of World War II.

When General William Tecumseh Sherman said that "War is hell," he wasn't talking about soldiers fighting soldiers. He meant that to end a war it is necessary to inflict such pain on the civilian population that it will no longer tolerate the war's continuation. That's because no army can keep fighting without at least the tacit support of the civilian population on whose territory it operates. War isn't laser surgery, no matter how technically advanced may be the weapons. War is a miserable, sloppy business in which innocent people suffer greatly. Sherman hated marching through Georgia and inflicting pain on decent people who happened to be living there, but he understood that doing this was the only way to end the war.

Widening the War

The violence we will need to inflict to win won't be limited to Baghdad, or even to Iraq. Just as you cannot fill a bucket with water if that bucket has two big holes in its bottom, we will not end the war in Iraq so long as Iran and Syria continue to interfere. Thus far, we have done nothing whatever to stop Iran and Syria from interfering, and unless we do we cannot win. In other words, to crush the Radical Islam operating system we will need to widen the war. More precisely, the governments of Iran and Syria must be taken out of the conflict, either by forcing these governments to cease fighting, or by removing and replacing these governments.

Honorable people will disagree over what specific steps to take, and how and when to take them. There is nothing wrong with this, and the debate itself is healthy. Indeed, our tolerance for public debate -- even during wartime -- is among the greatest strengths of Western Civilization.

But if we cannot resolve the question of whether or not we intend to win this war whatever the cost, then we will shortly lose the option of deciding. As President Lincoln said of slavery in the US, a house divided against itself cannot stand; we cannot be half-slave and half-free. It took a Civil War to resolve this issue. Today, our choice is whether to fight for Western Civilization at whatever cost, or to stop fighting and accept the gradual erosion of our operating system. And we are so divided over this question that it is scarcely an exaggeration to describe our debate as a kind of civil war. Until we resolve this question, we are stuck with half-measures that delay our defeat while also blocking the path to victory. And in war, if you aren't winning you're losing. There is nothing in between. So we must decide either to give up, or to summon the will to victory.

The trouble is, we have very little time left in which to decide. Indeed, our time to decide has just about run out.

Herbert E. Meyer served during the Reagan Administration as Special Assistant to the Director of Central Intelligence and Vice Chairman of the CIA's National Intelligence Council. His DVD on The Siege of Western Civilization has become an international best-seller.

Monday, January 08, 2007

The Democrat Plans in Iraq

Jason Horowitz asks in the New York Observer what do the Democrats propose to do in Iraq now that they have seized effective control of the legislature? Some of the answers are surprising

“It’s a very different calculus, meanwhile, for those Democrats harboring hopes of capturing the White House in 2008. As the killing in Baghdad intensifies—and almost everyone believes that it will continue to do so—some potential candidates are trying to articulate coherent positions now. They understand that this issue isn’t simply going to disappear in the next two years, and they argue that opposition alone doesn’t constitute a credible foreign-policy position.

“‘The question is, are you just going to fold up and leave regardless of the situation on the ground, or can you, through diplomacy, try and craft a more favorable exit?’ said Gen. Wesley Clark, one likely Presidential nominee. ‘My argument is that you can.’

“General Clark has a unique perspective among prospective candidates. He acted as the Supreme Allied Commander of NATO and played a major role in negotiating the Dayton Peace Accords that helped prevent the Kosovo War, the bloodiest European conflict since World War II, from spiraling into full-scale genocide.

“He agreed with many Congressional Democrats that ‘there is no way in which this problem belongs to the Congress and the Democrats.’ But he broke with the party’s default position, advocated by Senate leaders Harry Reid and Carl Levin, that a phased redeployment of troops should begin in the next four to six months—come what may for the Iraqis left behind in the paroxysm of sectarian slaughter that is sure to follow.

“General Clark specifically warned against the idea of a timeline for troop withdrawal, because it would mean a loss of American leverage in fostering a potential political solution. He added that without a political process, ‘the discussion about troop levels is sort of missing the point.’

“General Clark isn’t the only one trying to find an alternative. Hillary Clinton, despite the maddeningly deliberate pace of her evolution on the issue, seems genuinely to be searching for a position on Iraq that will allow for eventual withdrawal but doesn’t leave the Iraqis entirely at the mercy of local militias and foreign terrorists.

“Mrs. Clinton has fought for armored Humvees and better armor for American troops while also repeatedly calling for the training of more Iraqi troops so they can provide security themselves. She has argued that all Iraqis should benefit from oil profits through a revenue-sharing plan and for helping them to establish a more effective national government. And despite criticism from anti-war liberals within the party, she has been consistently reluctant to talk about specific timetables for withdrawal.

“Delaware Senator Joseph Biden has argued that Iraq is going to become a Democratic problem, too. Republicans, he said, ‘don’t want to run for re-election to Congress or for the Presidency in 2008 with Iraq around their necks. Democrats do not want to assume the Presidency in 2009 saddled with a losing war.’

“He has argued the futility of Mr. Bush’s efforts to build “a strong central government” and instead advocated the establishment of “three or more largely autonomous regional governments” that are bound by shared oil revenues.

“Senator Barack Obama summed the situation up succinctly in a Nov. 20 speech on Iraq. ‘There are,’ he said, ‘no good options left in this war.’

“And yet, while the proposals some Democrats are making have their detractors, they are at least adding something to the debate. In that respect, they are exceptions.

“Most Democrats, like their suddenly skeptical Republican counterparts, have taken to paternalistic tough-love tones when addressing Iraq, as if it were simply a matter of convincing the weak and rudderless Iraqi central government to cooperate.

“’I think it is for domestic consumption mainly,’ said George Packer, the author of The Assassins’ Gate, one of the definitive chronicles of the American involvement in Iraq. ‘It’s become a kind of convenient posture to make Democrats look like they’re standing up to the President, to the Iraqis, and standing up for the soldiers. But it doesn’t solve anything.’

“Senator Charles Schumer, who has come to be regarded as the party’s pre-eminent electoral tactician after engineering this year’s Democratic takeover of the Senate, explained the dynamic from a strategic point of view.

“’I think what Democrats should do is very similar to what Reid, Levin and the Baker Commission advocate, which is a year of transition where you stop policing a civil war and you start focusing on counterterrorism, force protection and training,’ said Mr. Schumer. ‘It’s very hard to see the future, but for the moment I think that’s the best of the so-called solutions, because Iraq is such a mess.’

“But the commission report, by the admission of its authors, is simply their iteration of the least-bad option.

“Military experts in and out of the Oval Office have questioned the practicality of the findings of the Iraq Study Group, dismissing the report as a political document drafted to put a face-saving gloss on defeat and withdrawal.

“Notably, so have a number of early war opponents, like recently retired Gen. Anthony Zinni, who now advocates a short-term increase in troop levels in Baghdad to try to bring some level of stability to the Iraqi capital before American troops start leaving.

“That is also the position, it should be noted, of Senator John McCain, a leading prospective Republican candidate. Whatever happens over the next two years, Mr. McCain will be able to argue that he has taken a clear position on the war with a goal, however fanciful, of achieving some sort of victory.

“Clarity, as the Presidential election of 2004 proved, always beats a muddle. And that could mean that this disastrous war—conceived of and advocated by a Republican administration and Congress—could wind up damaging the most promising Democratic general-election candidates in 2008.

“‘Certainly the Democratic Party in 2008, if this war is still going on, will have a fiercely anti-war candidate as its nominee, and that begins to exclude certain people who are assumed now to be favorites,’ said Jeffrey Laurenti, a senior fellow at the Century Foundation. ‘And so there is a powerful incentive for finding some way to diffuse this and get this off the political agenda.’
One way to get it off the agenda is simply to leave.

“William Perry, the former Secretary of Defense under Bill Clinton and a primary author of the military part of the Iraq Study Group’s report, originally drafted language that called for all combat troops to leave Iraq by early 2008.

“But that is only a credible alternative if the prospect of wholesale genocide is regarded as unavoidable. Here’s the grim part: Some of the most intelligent Democrats in Washington have concluded that it is.

“‘They are going to have this civil war and we can’t prevent it, and I would rather have it that there are 2,800 American dead rather than 28,000 American dead,’ said Representative Jerrold Nadler, who said that he wrestled with the moral implications of leaving for months before concluding that a quick withdrawal was the best option. ‘It’s not a nice conclusion; it’s not a happy conclusion. I reached a conclusion that we have so screwed up the situation that lots of people are going to die, and there is nothing we can do about it.’

“Mr. Nadler proposes offering American allies in Iraq, such as translators and drivers, safe passage and sanctuary in the United States.

“Other House Democrats in favor of withdrawal have stressed the importance of not letting civil war engulf the greater region.

“Representative Anthony Weiner, for example, advocates moving American troops to the Iranian border to stem the flow of Shiite fighters entering the country, and also defending the Syrian border to prevent armaments from reaching the Sunni insurgents. The rest of the troops should then be sent to join the fight in Afghanistan or other areas where the military is understaffed.

“Mr. Weiner concedes that his plan, which he calls a variation of Representative John Murtha’s headline-grabbing withdrawal scenario, “is not ending the fight in the schoolyard, but sealing the schoolyard off so that it can’t get much bigger.”

“The problem is that sectarian warfare will develop into unmitigated genocide in mixed-population areas like Baghdad. “You’d see genocidal-style civil war,” said Michael E. O’Hanlon, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. “If you are in favor of withdrawal, I think you have to admit that.”

“Another problem with a predetermined troop withdrawal, some Democrats say, is the reduction of leverage in influencing a political settlement.

“Mr. Clark imagined a scenario in which Americans tried to influence Prime Minister Nouri Kamal al-Maliki without troops to provide leverage.

“‘You go to al-Maliki and you say, ‘We want you to get this training organized,’ and he says, ‘Well, it’s difficult to do.’ And you say, ‘Well, if you don’t do it and get it done right, then’—what? ‘We will not give you extra money for training for next year’? ‘You won’t get invited to my birthday party’? What? What? You lose the ability to empower, at the top level, the dialogue that is essential to resolving the political issues.’

“Mr. Packer said that Senators Biden, Clinton and Obama were among the officials who struck him as understanding the drastic consequences of a withdrawal of American forces, both in terms of the widespread slaughter that would take place in Iraq and the significant blow to the United States’ reputation around the world. ‘They do know that we can’t just leave, that it’s not a matter of cutting our losses and getting out,’ said Mr. Packer.

“But tell that to the Charlie Rangel.

“‘Ever since I was a kid, everyone was just praying for someone to break up the fight,’ said Mr. Rangel, a decorated veteran of the Korean War. ‘And it’s clear that we can’t break up the fight. We have no clue of the Pandora’s box that we opened up over there.’”

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