Thursday, December 31, 2009

Have A Boring New Year

Now that George Bush has ridden off into the sunset – long ago actually, despite occasional attempts to call him back for invidious rhetorical purposes – the goofey left finds itself wandering forlorn amid the empty centuries.

Everyone will miss scenes like this:

But time rolls on in its implacable course, and a New Year stretches out before us.

So, good-bye to all that. Maureen Dowd, for instance, has not written a trenchant piece on the presidency since you-know-who vacated the premises. Gary Trudeau sleeps.  Leftist brains are rusting in their brain pans from sea to shining sea.

The left has nothing to say about the current you-know-who.


All we have to look forward to is the complete and fatal economic collapse of the country – not, from the point of view of the amusing actors in the video above, that there’s anything wrong with that.

Hello Utopia.

And, as we approach the new decade, a bit of good news for everyone but the fake scientists in East Anglia and Al Gore: “…the airborne fraction of carbon dioxide has not increased either during the past 150 years or during the most recent five decades,” according to a report in Science Daily.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Dodd Slashes Airport Security Funds For Friendly Firemen

Mark Hemmingway of the Washington Examiner tells us that Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd in July proposed an amendment that moved $4,500,000 from airport security to firefighters, a favorite constituency. The firefighter’s union backed the senator during his failed presidential bid in Iowa.

This is the text of the Dodd amendment:

"(Purpose: To provide additional funds for FIRE grants under section 33 of the Federal FirePrevention and Control Act of 1974)
          "On page 77, between lines 16 and 17, insert the following:
"SEC. X (a) The amount appropriated under the heading "firefighter assistance grants'' under the heading "Federal Emergency Management Agency'' under by title III for necessary expenses for programs authorized by the Federal Fire Prevention and Control Act of 1974 is increased by $10,000,000 for necessary expenses to carry out the programs authorized under section 33 of that Act (15 U.S.C. 2229).

"(b) The total amount of appropriations under the heading "Aviation Security'' under the heading "Transportation Security Administration'' under title II, the amount for screening operations and the amount for explosives detection systems under the first proviso under that heading, and the amount for the purchase and installation of explosives detection systems under that heading, and the amount for the purchase and installation of explosives detection systems under the second proviso under that heading are reduced by $4,500,000.

"(c) From the unobligated balances of amounts appropriated before the date of enactment of this Act for the appropriations account under the heading "state and local programs'' under the heading "Federal Emergency Management Agency'' for "Trucking Industry Security Grants'', $5,500,000 are rescinded."
The money removed by the Dodd amendment was targeted specifically "for screening operations and the amount for explosives detection systems."

Needless to say, it is not firemen but airport security that is charged with preventing terrorists from blowing up airlines with the use of shoe bombs and exploding underwear.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Fiat Is A Car: A Brief History Of the Beginning Of The 21st Century

We are all a bit stupid about the economy. That is because economics really is the dismal science -- except for two groups of people: Ron Paulites, along with Andrew Jackson, the natural enemies of fiat money, and George Sorosites, ambitious malefactors of great wealth who in this age of get rich quick schemes want to get even richer quicker.
Most of the rest of us fell asleep in economics class when the talk turned to inflation, deflation and fiat money.

We thought fiats were cars.

George Soros, the sugardaddy of the left best know as a short-buyer who broke the bank of England, and Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises, were wide awake in class. So was Peter Schiff, now running for the US Senate against too long-time incumbent Chris Dodd.

Von Mises, the author of “Human Action,” still the best economic book in our fragile Western world, died with empty pockets; Soros continues to rake in the dough. He will die a rich man, his mouth stuffed with dollars rather than earth, after the last trumpet blows over him.

Schiff is the economic Cassandra who warned us all, during the last heady spendthrift days of frat boy President George Bush’s administration, that we were about to crash on the unforgiving rocks of reality.

No one paid him the least mind. And as he traveled from TV station to TV station spreading his dismal message, the rest of us shooed him away and tut tutted him unmercifully.

“Economic crash? Man, wake up. Thou art living a dream. Smell the flowers. They are all around us. The economy is – how do you put it? – SOUND in its essentials.”

But Schiff was right, as such annoying people often are.

The country was reeling like a drunken sot, from economic bubble to economic bubble; and, as happens sometimes when one has drunk life to the lees, all of us finally crashed into the brick wall.

“I told you so,” said Schiff. “Save money. Produce real goods.”

Several saviors then appeared, pointing the way to heaven on earth, among them Obama the Magnificent.

“Let me help,” said President Barack Obama and proceeded to spend even more money than George the frat boy. Angels from von Mises’ Heaven whispered in his ear, “You cannot spend your way out of a mini-depression with Chinese financing.” But he paid those angels no heed. He gave’em the brush off and lent his ear, as Shakespeare would have it, to borrowers and lenders. In fact, Obama, with a sly wink at Andy Jackson, became the chief borrower in the land; he became the chief lender-in-chief.

And now we are in a funk of deficit.

Here in Connecticut, the land of steady bad habits, things are even worse. Connecticut enjoys the distinction of being first among equals in the matter of debt; per capita, we are the most debt ridden state in the country, even beating out impecunious California. Sensing courage deprivation in our legislature, Moody has now lowered our bond rating to negative; and our state legislature, dominated by arrogant spendthrift Democrats, has pledged to do nothing about spending, until we are saved by some as yet invisible god in a bucket.

If Schiff is Cassandra, mildly but insistently pressing his message on ears clotted with wax and incomprehension, hyperinflationist true believer John Williams is Jeremiah.

The underpinnings of the American economy have so deteriorated, Williams argues, that the kind of short term irreversible economic tailspin seen in the Weimar Republic is perching on our shoulders.

In his monograph, Williams quotes Friedrich Kessler, who experienced Weimer Republic hyperinflation:

"It was horrible. Horrible! Like lightning it struck. No one was prepared. You cannot imagine the rapidity with which the whole thing happened. The shelves in the grocery stores were empty. You could buy nothing with your paper money."


Friday, December 25, 2009

The Hamsher Norquist Knuckle Sandwich

Jane Hamsher, the political femme fatal who ran on her site a picture of Sen. Joe Lieberman in blackface to help Greenwich millionaire Ned Lamont’s campaign, is attempting a little triangulation of her own now that President Barack Obama seems to have made common cause with the redundantly wealthy denizens of Wall Street.

She has combined with the decidedly non-progressive Grover Norquist to throw Rham Emanuel down the mineshaft. Emanuel is Obama's Disraeli. The Norquist/Hamsher combo is very unusual. Norquist is one of the best conservative-libertarian organizers on the planet. In fact, if the Republicans ever do regain the reigns of power in Washington, before the country is flat broke, it would be well if they allowed Norquist to form the entire government -- including the Supreme Court.

“If Obama/Rahm want to triangulate against progressives (and they do), they’re not the only ones who can make cause with people on the other side of the aisle. If that’s what it takes to shake up the corporate domination of our political system, we’ve done it before and we can do it again. Because working within the traditional political order to support “progressives” whose conviction lasts only as long as it doesn’t matter just doesn’t seem to be working.”

This is the joint letter Hamsher and Norquist have sent to Attorney General Eric Holder:

December 23, 2009

Attorney General of the United States of America

U.S. Department of Justice

950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20530-0001

Dear Attorney General Holder:

We write to demand an immediate investigation into the activities of White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel. We believe there is an abundant public record which establishes that the actions of the White House have blocked any investigation into his activities while on the board of Freddie Mac from 2000-2001, and facilitated the cover up of potential malfeasance until the 10-year statute of limitations has run out.

The purpose of this letter is to connect the dots to establish both the conduct of Mr. Emanuel and those working with him to thwart inquiry, and to support your acting speedily so that the statute of limitations does not run out before the Justice Department is able to empanel a grand jury.

The New York Times reports that the administration is negotiating to double the commitments to Fannie and Freddie for a total of $800 billion by December 31, in order to avoid the congressional approval that would be needed after that date. But there currently is no Inspector General exercising independent oversight of these entities. Acting Inspector General Ed Kelly was stripped of his authority earlier this year by the Justice Department, relying on a loophole in a bill Mr. Emanuel cosponsored and pushed through Congress shortly before he left for the White House. This effectively ended Mr. Kelly’s investigation into what happened at Fannie and Freddie.

Since that time, despite multiple warnings by Congress that having no independent Inspector General for a federal agency that oversees $6 trillion in mortgages is a serious oversight, the White House has not appointed one.

We recognize that these are extremely serious accusations, but the stonewalling by Mr. Emanuel and the White House has left us with no other redress. A 2003 report by Freddie Mac’s regulator indicated that Freddie Mac executives had informed the board of their intention to misstate the earnings to insure their own bonuses during the time Mr. Emanuel was a director. But the White House refused to comply with a Freedom of Information Act request from the Chicago Tribune for those board minutes on the grounds that Freddie Mac was a “commercial” entity, even though it was wholly owned by the government at the time the request was made.

If the Treasury approves the $800 billion commitment to Fannie and Freddie by the end of the year, it will mean that under the influence of Rahm Emanuel, the White House is moving a trillion-dollar slush fund into corruption-riddled companies with no oversight in place. This will allow Fannie and Freddie to continue to purchase more toxic assets from banks, acting as a back-door increase of the TARP without congressional approval.

Before the White House commits any more money to Fannie and Freddie, we call on the Public Integrity Section in the Justice Department to begin an investigation into the cause of Fannie and Freddie’s conservatorship, into Rahm Emanuel’s activities on the board of Freddie Mac (including any violations of his fiduciary duties to shareholders), into the decision-making behind the continued vacancy of Fannie and Freddie’s Inspector General post, and into potential public corruption by Rahm Emanuel in connection with his time in Congress, in the White House, and on the board of Freddie Mac.

We also call for the immediate appointment of an Inspector General with a complete remit to go after this information.

We both come from differing political ideologies. One of us is the conservative head of a transparency foundation, and the other is the publisher of a liberal political blog. But we make common cause today out of grave concern for the future of our country in the wake of corruption-riddled bailouts. These bailouts continue to rob Main Street to benefit Wall Street, and, because of that, we together demand the resignation of Mr. Emanuel, a man who has steadfastly worked to obstruct both oversight and inquiry into the matter. Rahm Emanuel’s conflicts of interest render him far too compromised to serve as gatekeeper to the President of the United States.

We will lay out the details further below, and are available at your earliest convenience to meet with you directly.

It’s difficult to put this request in perspective, so that people in Connecticut might realize it’s far-fetchedness. Though President Barack Obama has often claimed that the U.S. Attorney General is, and ought to be, an independent free floating agent, close watchers of the administration know that everyone and everything in the Obama admistration is attached to everyone and everything else, as befits a well oiled slightly less than scrupulous Chicago organization. The president has an enviable talent for organizing things.

It would be as if President Pro Tem of the state Senate Don Williams were to get together with state Republican leader Larry Cafero and both were to write a letter to prominent partisan Democrat Attorney General Richard Blumenthal requesting that suit happy knight in shining armor to sue Speaker of the state House Chris Donovan because his associations with state union leaders compromised his ability to honestly run his office.

The chances of such a suit being seriously pursued are, well… far fetched.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

We Are All Murthas Now

This is the year when many shameless congressional Democrats became U.S. Rep. John Murtha, the powerful Chairman of the House Appropriations Defense Committee and dispenser-in-chief of goodies. Any superfluous submarines that have come Connecticut’s way in the dying last days of the Bush administration have Murtha’s fingerprints all over them.

Rep. John Larson of Connecticut’s impregnable 1st District was a pioneer in this regard. Way back in April, the Journal Inquirer reported in a flashy first page story that Larson had struck up a very close friendship with the earmark king of Pennsylvania, then under scrutiny for the second time by the FBI.

The first time, FBI agents attempted to ensnare Murtha in a tit for tat scam involving wealthy Arab sheiks, FBI plants in disguise. One of the sheiks brought a briefcase full of cash with him, passed its fragrance under Murtha’s nose and begged favors of him.

Murtha suggested the money be laundered through his favorite charity, a constituent who had asked if Murtha could help him in the launching of a start-up business enterprise. The FBI did not get their man this time, but the resulting ABSCAM scandal – all caught on tape -- proved embarrassing to the earmark king.

Much later Murtha would best be known for his strenuous opposition to President George Bush’s “war of choice” in Iraq. Murtha abandoned his principled opposition once it had become fairly certain, very late in the day, that General David Petraeus’ strategy was succeeding. In war and business, nothing succeeds like success. Copying Murtha’s feint, Dodd asserted in a Providence Journal report way back in March, 2007 that he had no difficulty in declaring that he “would be moving our troops out of urban areas tonight.” Dodd called his earlier 2002 vote to authorize Bush’s war of choice “a mistake” and quipped according to the report, “I’m Catholic; I’ve been to confession.”

Someone once asked Murtha about earmarks, globules of tax money furtively inserted into bills to reward friendly legislators or to persuade reluctant legislative comrades to swallow an unpalatable piece of legislation they swore would never go down their gullet without a manful struggle. Weren’t these earmarks indisputable signs that the givers and takers were somewhat, you know, corrupt? Murtha looked at the naïf asking the question as if he had just arrived from Mars and said something to the effect that this was the time honored way in Congress of purchasing loyalty. Without bought legislators, political business simply could not go forward at all.

When Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska was deflected from his ‘principled’ non-support of a health care bill that, it was plausibly argued, would force religious objectors to finance abortions through their taxes, Nelson was bought off with a generous bribe from President Barack Obama's Chocago mob: No more forever would “cornhuskers” have to pay for the additional Medicaid spending imposed on Nebraska by the bill. Dodd was put very much in the running for a multi-million dollar gift that had the words “UConn Health Center” penciled in on it, a bonbon from a grateful administration for Dodd’s support in fashioning a bill that when fully perfected, some argued, would unfavorably impact jobs in his home state, once known as “the insurance capitol of the world,” now a shadow of its former self.

No submarines were exchanged for votes this time.

On the way home from the Beltway money making machine to celebrate Christmas with his family, Dodd was accosted by one of his constituents at Bradley who taunted him in passing, “Enjoy it while you can. You’re not going to get re-elected,” very possibly a grass roots tea bag patriot or a voter peeved that the greatest deliberative body in the world had just passed a largely unread bill on a partisan vote.’

Dodd snickered, “Merry Christmas” to the grouch. The senator was in a getting and giving mood, determined not to let dyspeptic spirits haunt his Holiday.

“My job,” Dodd said, “is to do what I can on behalf of my state,” I’ve tried to do it in a balanced way… Instead of applauding the fact we're getting something done for our state, they seem to be annoyed.”

In heaven, the redoubtable George Washington Plunkitt of Tammany Hall is chortling, “Spoken like a true Murtha clone.”

Christmas Eve

For those who have the courage to believe on this evening before our day of joy, merry this:

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

It’s the Stupack Amendment, Stupid

“’They think I shouldn’t be expressing my views on this bill until they get a chance to try to sell me the language,’ Stupak told in an interview on Tuesday. ‘Well, I don’t need anyone to sell me the language. I can read it. I’ve seen it. I’ve worked with it. I know what it says. I don’t need to have a conference with the White House. I have the legislation in front of me here.’”

Apparently, no one from the Chicago Group surrounding President Barack Obama has yet made Stupack an offer he can’t refuse. His spine seems to be in good order: “We’re getting a lot of pressure not to say anything, to try to compromise this principle or belief. That’s just not us. We’re not going to do that. Members who voted for the Stupak language in the House – especially the Democrats, 64 Democrats that voted for it – feel very strongly about it. It’s been part of who we are, part of our make up. It’s the principle belief that we have. We are not just going to abandon it in the name of health care."

Over in Nebraska, such an offer was made to the irresolute Sen. Ben Nelson, which the senator, short on cash and earmarks, readily accepted. People in other states may want to move to Michigan, because the special arrangement made between the “brights” in the Obama administration and Nelson relieve the lucky folk in Michigan of paying for the additional Medicaid spending that will be imposed on Nebraska by the bill -- forever, the costs of their non-payments to be borne by all the suckers living in states other than Michigan.

No one yet has asked Sen. Chris Dodd, himself rewarded with millions from the Obama administration, whether he is quite comfortable with the arrangement made between his patrons in the Obama administration and Nelson. Gov. Jodi Rell has written to Attorney General Richard Blumenthal about the matter suggesting he join in a suit with other attorneys general to seek legal redress. Neither have any of the members of Connecticut’s congressional delegation, most of whom are Catholics, been asked whether they feel they will be incommoded by the reactions of their bishops to the compromised bill.

The Nelson revision of the Senate bill containing the “compromise” language will not bar taxpayer funding of abortion. The “compromise” verbiage, designed to create the appearance of a firewall preventing federal money from being used to fund abortions, is tissue paper thin, little more, its critics say, than an accounting gimmick intended to cover, the American bishops of the Catholic Church are now telling us, a multitude of sins.

Hours after Nelson signed on the dotted line, Stupack declared that the proposed Senate language was “unacceptable.”

The compromise permits the flow of tax dollars from those opposing abortion to abortion providers and violates both the spirit and the letter of previous congressional accommodations with the religious constituents of Nelson, Obama and every congressperson who had affirmed the terms of previous legislation that prevents tax dollars from being used to procure abortions.

The Stupack amendment, a provision attached in the House to the Health Care bill that prohibit the federal government from allocating taxpayer money to pay for any part of any health insurance plan that covers abortion except in cases of rape, incest, or when the life of the mother is in danger, is itself compromised by the Nelson compromise, but Stupack was not alone in finding the “compromise” unacceptable.

Catholic bishops – who on theological grounds favor providing health care to citizens who cannot afford it – strenuously objected to language compromising prevailing legislation that prevents Catholics from contributing to activities the church regards as sinful.

The day after his spine collapsed – and what senator’s spine would not collapse under pressure of such an attractive offer? – Nelson’s constituents were on the phones inveighing against his moral cave-in. At a rally in downtown Omaha that drew 1,800, “much of the attention was unfavorable, as opponents of the health care legislation in Congress expressed outrage with his decision to cast the crucial 60th vote in favor of the bill,” according to reports.

Catholics in Connecticut’s state delegation may want to consult their bishops on the difference between venial and mortal sins in case they feel it necessary to go to confession before receiving communion this Christmas. But if they are too busy to consult a Catholic encyclopedia concerning the difference, Archbishop Ringali of Philadelphia and the Chairman of the United Sates Conference of Catholic Bishops for Pro Life Activities, provided a useful gloss when asked the question by a reporter. People, the bishop said, “need to follow a well-formed conscience, and that a well-formed conscience would recognize that abortion is ‘absolutely wrong’ and that there is ‘no way in the world’ a health care bill can be supported if it includes a provision allowing tax dollars to go to abortion coverage.”

It will not fit on the head of a pin but the bishop’s remark might make a theologically sound bumper sticker.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

This is what happened the week before Christmas:

The state budget – last fiscal year’s state budget – is about half a billion dollars in the red. A departing Gov. Jodi Rell called the legislature into session to make some serious cuts. The legislators returned to the Capitol: They came, they saw, they ran away. The legislature then called itself into session. Rell had presented it with a plan that called for semi-serious cuts. The legislature cut some tax cuts and reduced a $337 million deficit by about $12 million, according to a Courant story. This exhausted them, and even here quarrels arose on the floor when the Democrats proposed reducing expenditures for horses in the governor’s foot guard by about $77 thousand. Apparently, the horses do not belong to a union, and so the cutback was approved by Speaker of the House Chris Dovovan, the state's union flunky in the legislature. The governor asked the unions for further concessions. The unions said – no.The governor asked the legislature to make serious cuts. The legislature said – no. Why be serious about spending cuts while there are yet millionaires huddled by their yachts along Connecticut’s Gold Coast, on its way, some economists think, to becoming a new rust belt for the idle rich and the captains of industry? After this farce, everyone went home to their Christmas pudding.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Lincoln, McMahon, Simmons

The race goes on. Linda McMahon and Rob Simmons, both Republicans running against Sen. Chris Dodd, have gotten into a tiff over Abe Lincoln. McMahon had mentioned to a paper that Lincoln, he of the Gettysburg address, had been known for his wrestling prowess. For this she was pounced upon by the Simmons campaign:

"When President Lincoln grappled on the prairie he wasn't on steroids and drugs, he wasn't scripting Playboy models to strip their clothes off in the ring in front of children and he wasn't instructing fellow wrestlers to use razor blades to cut their heads open to draw blood. Linda McMahon and the WWE's brand of wrestling does all these things and we're quite sure Honest Abe would not approve.”
Linda McMahon was right about Abe Lincoln: He was famous in New Salem, a frontier village on the Sangamon River, for wrestling long before “The Little Giant,” Stephen Douglas, felt his grapple. And Rob Simmons is also right: There was no Playboy Magazine in Lincoln’s day. There were playboys aplenty. Over in Europe, Lord Byron, a playboy considerably more enticing than Hugh Heffner, was steaming the ladies up. There were no steroids in Lincoln’s day, no wrestling ring strippers, no … whatever.

All this claptrap belongs to the modern era.

There were in Lincoln’s day newspapers fiercely committed to either the Democratic or Republican parties. There were two fierce wedge issues: preservation of the union and slavery. There was much catcalling and dirty tricks. When someone in an audience cried out that Lincoln was “two faced” -- possibly a Democratic plant -- Lincoln replied from the stump, “If I had two faces, do you think I’d be wearing this one?” There was a great deal of showmanship and braggadocio in Lincoln’s time, which is why the crowds turned out in massive numbers to hear Douglas say of Lincoln, who had been carried off the stage by his admirers after a particularly colorful speech, that Lincoln had to be borne off from a recent debate because the “Little Giant” had shattered him and he was beaten all over and tuckered out.

There were no fact checkers in Lincoln’s day. That office was performed by the partisan press. On this point, historians have discovered that the truest accounts of Lincoln’s speeches during the Lincoln-Douglas debates are to be found in the opposition press. Why? Because Lincoln’s press touched up his speeches, so a to make them prettier and more palatable to their readers, much in the way present day congresspersons revise their remarks on the floor of congress before they are printed in the public record. Douglas’ press did the same for him.

In Lincoln’s day, the media was highly partisan and relished personal attacks. Political contributions were laundered through the party system. Engorged partisan bloggers were not permitted to set up campaign money laundering operations for their favored candidate. But then, in Lincoln’s day, there were no bloggers and, as Simmons points out, no strip tease artist in the wrestling ring either; so perhaps both observations are a little unfair, not that there’s anything wrong with that in a political campaign.

The thing that leaps out at readers of the Lincoln-Douglas debates – sadly missing in our own politics – is the honest, sometimes brutally honest, confrontation on issues of importance. The debates were candidate directed; no press monitors here shoving half a dozen questions at multiple debaters they are expected to answer in sound bites that will fit on bumper stickers or tee shirts.

Neither Lincoln nor Douglas danced around the question of union or slavery, though Lincoln had carved out for himself a position on slavery that antagonized both committed abolitionists and slave owners in the South: He was willing to allow slavery in states where it existed while preventing its introduction in the Territories where it did not exist. All the same, Lincoln’s line in the sand was lucid and well defended. On the question of unity and separation, he gave no quarter.

Towards the end of the war, Lincoln emancipated the slaves, arguing that he was authorized to so through the powers the constitution conferred on him as commander-in-chief of the armed forces at war. Lincoln used the same powers to suppress draft riots in New York and suspend habeas corpus while the war was yet being fought. He shut down Northern newspapers that opposed the war effort and had congressmen who too volubly opposed his war policy arrested. Very likely it was the mounting death toll – 7,058 soldiers on both sides died in the battle of Gettysburg alone – that persuaded Lincoln to adopt measures strict constitutionalists would shrink from. So much blood poured out, so much pain and sorrow, called out to him imperiously for an unambiguous victory.

One thing is certain: There is no Lincoln in any of the congressional races this year, and no Lincoln in the White House either.

Perhaps the best we can do is to think deeply about Lincoln before appropriating him to service on the side of the angels.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Lieberman Narrative

Most of the opinion press outside the state reporting on Connecticut politicians is an echo chamber.

If someone from, say, the New York Observer wants the inside dope on Joe Lieberman – who, truthfully, is as predictable as the rising and setting of the sun – he will call one of his comrades in Connecticut’s press. That comrade will refer him to Bill Curry.

Curry, aggregating data on Lieberman from a dozen liberal sources, will say something like this: “I do believe that if he runs for re-election in Connecticut (in 2012), it will be as a Republican. He never loses the capacity to shock. It is just so contemptuous of the president, who let him back into the caucus and the chairmanship.”

Curry’s notion will be picked up by the local press, and it will be repeated in multiple stories.

This is the way narratives are made.

And a good narrative is the blade gleaming in the guillotine. Once a narrative gets into a liberal reporter’s head it is unshakable. It becomes the pivot point around which stories gravitate, the way the planets move catlike around the sun.

This is what makes political commentary in the state so predictable and mind numbingly boring: No one seems disposed to say anything fresh or unorthodox. As in Medieval times, the penalty for disturbing the universe is exile. Once you are outside the club, the price of admission is to fall in with the crowd. Journalism, here and elsewhere, is 10 per cent thought, 90 percent repetition.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

A Living Prayer

If you listen closely you can hear in her voice the sound of love falling softly like rose peddles on the heart.

Lieberman The Liberal, A Reconsideration

Dana Milbank of the Washington Post actually ran the numbers and discovered – Surprise! – that Sen. Joe Lieberman is not polluted with conservativism:

“His ideology has not changed one bit, as measured by vote ratings. The American Conservative Union scored his conservatism an eight out of 100 in 2008, the same as Maryland's Ben Cardin (Obama scored a more conservative 17). His lifetime conservative rating is 16, and over the past five years he's actually been a slightly more liberal 8.2. Ratings by the liberal Americans for Democratic Action tell a similar tale, and a University of California at San Diego ranking through the end of July found him to be the 28th most liberal member of the Senate this year, tied with that conservative icon, Daniel Akaka of Hawaii.”
It may come as a shock both to the enemies of Lieberman and the friends of Obama – often, they are the same people – to find that Obama’s liberal ratings fall short of Lieberman’s.

In a recent interview, Lieberman brushed aside the notion that he was vengeful after his primary loss to Greenwich millionaire Ned Lamont, who this year has ambitions to be governor.

Lamont used the Iraq war as a wedge issue to defeat Lieberman in the primary. The wedge issue in state politics this year revolves around Connecticut’s red budget and its unresolved deficit, growing by the hour. Democrats have favored tax increases and borrowing to patch the hole, while Republicans want to reign in spending. So far, Democrats have successfully defeated Republicans in the ongoing political jihad, and it is doubtful that Lamont would consider using the growing budget deficit as a wedge issue to unseat those in his party who have been clamoring for a rise in the state’s new progressive income tax.

Those who win elections, Lieberman pointed out in a recent interview, generally do not feel vengeful, an assertion that caused the hot heads of those on the far left in his party to erupt in sputtering flames.

Lieberman is – without question – irritating to leftists in his party. But non-activists and independents outside the party system in Connecticut, whose numbers are growing by the hour, seem prepared to take the senator in stride, perhaps because they have gone to school with ex- Governor and Senator Lowell Weicker, Lieberman’s nemesis and, character wise, the Connecticut politician who most resembles him.

A thorn on the side of his party, Weicker – who did lose an election to Lieberman and may be vengeful – once cheerily described himself as “a turd in the Republican Party punchbowl.” He was that indeed. Weicker’s biography -- reviewed by Chris Powell, Managing Editor of the Journal Inquirer and a columnist for that paper, under the fetching caption “Mr. Bluster Saves The World” -- is titled “Maverick.” Weicker’s former chief aide Tom D’Amore, elevated by then Sen. Weicker to the chairmanship of the state Republican Party, was active as an advisor in Lamont’s campaign, as was Weicker, who encouraged his fellow Greenwich millionaire to primary Lieberman.

The parallels between Weicker and Lieberman are striking. While senator, Weicker repeatedly promised his undying support to Roger Eddy, a Republican who ran against Sen. Chris Dodd, only to turn against Eddy days before the election, throwing his support to Dodd. It was turdy deeds such as this that finally turned the punch bowl against Weicker.

Lieberman’s disagreements with his party turned on questions of war policy, but there is no doubt he is a liberal. Lieberman’s support of the Iraq war appears to have been vindicated by General David Petraeus’ strategy; and following President Obama’s ascendancy as commander-in-chief of the armed forces active in Afghanistan, there are many in the Democratic Party who now hope for a repeat of that success.

What a difference a president makes.

Lamont, the gubernatorial candidate, no doubt will find a convincing rational to lend his support to Obama’s war effort in Afghanistan, a struggle that directly involves Connecticut’s National Guard and its governor. But Lamont’s real struggle, if he wins the governorship, will be with leaders in his state party who would rather be plunged into the fiery pit than disappoint union supporters, as well as those on the left in his party who want to see millionaires in the state hanging on hooks in Hell.

Both in the nation and state, it’s the economy this time, stupid.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

ObamaCare Doubts

Sen. Mitch McConnell puts it in a nutshell:

“Americans are already outraged at the fact that Democrat leaders took their eyes off the ball. Rushing the process on a partisan line makes the situation even worse.

“Americans were told the purpose of reform was to reduce the cost of health care.

“Instead, Democrat leaders produced a $2.5 trillion, 2,074-page monstrosity that vastly expands government, raises taxes, raises premiums, and wrecks Medicare.

“And they want to rush this bill through by Christmas — one of the most significant, far-reaching pieces of legislation in U.S. history. They want to rush it.

“And here’s the most outrageous part: at the end of this rush, they want us to vote on a bill that no one outside the Majority Leader’s conference room has even seen.

“That’s right. The final bill we’ll vote on isn’t even the one we’ve had on the floor. It’s the deal Democrat leaders have been trying to work out in private.”

WSJ Pins Tail On Donkey Lamont

The Wall Street Journal thinks Ned Lamont is responsible for the Democrats difficulty in passing ObamaCare:

“If, after all this fuss, the Senate manages not to enact ObamaCare, one man we will have to thank for it is Ned Lamont. He's the liberal-left cable-TV executive who successfully challenged Joe Lieberman, Connecticut's junior senator, in the 2006 Democratic primary. Lieberman, taking advantage of the Nutmeg State's nutty election laws, ran as an independent in the general election and trounced Lamont.

“The Republicans didn't put up a serious candidate for the seat, so that if Lamont had not run, Lieberman would have coasted to re-election as a Democrat--and as a Democrat, he would have felt much greater pressure to back ObamaCare in its original version out of party loyalty. Instead he has emerged as a holdout against some of its worst provisions, and we can credit him with making the Senate bill unacceptable to the likes of Howard Dean (though we shall see if enough "progressives" who actually have seats in Congress are willing to buck the party line in Deanlike fashion).”

Dean, not the best of friends with President Barack Obama’s Chicago coterie in the White House, wants to junk the effort to pass the senate’s rump bill and “go back to the House and start the reconciliation process, where you only need 51 votes [in the Senate].”

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

And In This Corner, Rosa DeLauro

What’s wrong with allowing people to buy into Medicare at the age of 50 or 55? Besides the fact that it is going bankrupt, is inefficient and can barely sustain its current population?” – “the chief,” a commentator on the blog site Connecticut Local Politics

“The chief” may or may not be a citizen represented in the U.S. House of representatives by John Larson, a Democratic Rep. from the impregnable 1st District or Rosa DeLauro of the 3rd District or embattled Sen. Chris Dodd, all of whom are frustrated by Sen. Joe Lieberman’s opposition to a public option in the health care bill and a provision that would extend Medicare benefits to beneficiaries who are 55 years of age and up.

It hardly matters at all what district “the chief” resides in; he is represented in the U.S. Congress by a delegation in both the House and the Senate that is wholly Democratic. And that delegation is marching in lockstep with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, who wants both a public option, leading down the yellow brick road to a single payer health care system, and an extension of Medicare to citizens 55 and older, despite “the chief’s” misgivings.

Rep. DeLauro was so flustered by Lieberman’s opposition – not to mention the resistance of many in the Congress to a bill that would force Catholics in the United States, many of whom would rather follow the Pope in matters of faith and morals than DeLauro, to pony up tax money for abortions – that she said, in a frequently intemperate moment, senator Lieberman should be “recalled.”

There is no provision in the United States for recalling senators who disagree with DeLauro on matters of public policy. But of course DeLauro is free to call for Lieberman’s impeachment; that’ll teach him!

In so doing however, she also would have to call for the impeachment of other congresspersons, some of them Democrats, who think, along with “the chief,” that using a seriously under funded and potentially bankrupt Medicare system to cover many more people is not economically prudent.

State Sen. Edith Prague, according to one report, was among the disappointed. Asked about Lieberman’s health care position, Prague buried her head in her hands and asked plaintively, “Can you help me get my vote back? I voted for him. What a mistake. What a disappointment he has come to be. He holds the ace. It makes me sick to my stomach to think he would deny health care to so many people. He holds the ace card. He's the key.''

Putting on his psychologist’s hat, Democratic State Rep. Chris Caruso of Bridgeport defended Lieberman from charges on the left that he was positioning himself for political favors or, worse, that he was the playmate of powerful insurance interests in Connecticut, once called the insurance capital of the world. None of this was true. Lieberman’s opposition related directly, Caruso said to the senator’s “loss in the Democratic primary in 2006 against upstart Ned Lamont and his complete abandonment in the general election by the party's liberal wing.”

Said Dr. Caruso, “He's had this complete sea change in the last six or seven years, and he's betrayed his own roots and beliefs. I think in this case it's a clear vendetta. I'm really surprised at the pettiness and vindictiveness that he's showing. ... Anyone who looks at it in any other way is trying to come up with nice things to say about him. It's a vendetta.''

The Nedster made him do it.

Lieberman good naturedly rejected the psychobabble.

"The great thing about winning an election is you don't have to seek revenge. I didn't come away feeling vengeful.''

Ex-Senator and Governor Lowell Weicker, who did  lose a senate race to Lieberman, surfaced long enough to say that at some future date Lieberman would be held accountable for his actions.

"Very frankly, if he doesn't want to be held accountable...on an issue as important as this,” said the father of Connecticut’s income tax, who declined to run a second time as governor after its difficult passage through a legislature of broken arms and bloody noses, “it's not going to bode well for him in the future. The state is very much for health care reform. There comes a day of reckoning.''

But not for everyone, as Weicker knows; some, who decline to put their courage to a vote, get away Scott free. Weicker’s day of political reckoning never came, and it’s doubtful anyone would presume to lay him on a couch for therapy to explore his frequent betrayals of his own party. The bottom line on Connecticut present budget is more than twice what it had been in the early 90’s when the Weicker tax was written into law.

And the present budget deficit is enough to make an angel cry, not to mention Prague or DeLauro or Larson or Dodd or Caruso.


Politico today has a story out that helps to explain why Lieberman's opposition may help Obama in the long run:

"In effect, Lieberman spared Obama from having to make a difficult choice down the road — between liberal supporters who wanted the Medicare expansion and two big constituencies whose opposition could have scuttled a bill."
Someone should tell DeLauro.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Laugh’s On You

There is a funny side to politics. Politico reports Kristin Davis, the Manhattan Madam who accommodated former New York Attorney General Elliot Spitzer’s sexual fantasies when his political rocket was in the ascendancy, is fully prepared to run against her former client should he decide to enter the Big Apple’s comptroller race. And Connecticut’s pro partial birth abortion advocate in the U.S. House of Representatives Rosa DeLauro feels that Sen. Joe Lieberman should face a run-off election owing to his stubborn opposition to President Barack Obama’s universal health care initiate. Of course, there is no provision in the U.S. Congress for run-off elections. But obviously DeLauro, who has locked horns with the pope and bishops united against partial birth abortion, feels about run-offs the way the great Russian author Fyodor Dostoyevsky felt about God when he said if there were no God, men would be forced to invent Him. The Connecticut General Assembly, led by Chris Donovan and Don Williams, convened for a moment to say a prayer and adjourn without considering Gov. Jodi Rell’s ardent plea to please stop spending money. They wanted to be home for the holidays to celebrate the birth of Christ.

Lieberman, The Independent

Over on the left, the discussion about Lieberman – when it is not outrageously wrongheaded – has taken its usual turn: The discussion has turned quickly from an attempt to answer the question “What are Lieberman’s reasons for opposing the recent grand plans of progressives in his party?” to the more easily answered question “What are Lieberman’s motives in doing so?” Answer from those on the left who prefer venting to thinking: The senator is entirely ego driven and shameless in his opposition because he is still smarting from a primary loss to Ned Lamont.

Progressives on the left, , hatchets at the ready, are predicting two things: 1) that Lieberman has now entered his end times, and 2) if the senator runs again, he can only do successfully on a Republican ticket, which is unlikely.

The shifting stream of history is the great unknown here. Progressive theorists, when they are not assuming their plans for the future will usher in a new utopia, are assuming that all else will remain the same. Today will not give rise to a very different tomorrow.

If the Democrats are successful, what will the future bring by the time Lieberman either runs for office once again or declines to do so? Given the nature of the progressive plan for universal health care – which may encourage a collapse of the insurance industry in what used to be known as the insurance capitol of the world, as well as the supportive command economy upon which the success of the plan depends – the future, in the eyes of conservatives and libertarians, must seem fraught with peril.

The really big unknown is the reaction of independents to this as yet misty future.

Why hasn’t the polling community done more careful studies of independents? Who are they? To say independents are unaffiliated is to say nothing at all.

On a trip to Ireland, the late and much missed Bill Buckley got into a discussion at a pub, and the talk soon drifted off to questions of religion. One of his interlocutors mentioned a prominent atheist, which shocked Buckley.

“Do you mean to say there are atheists in Ireland?

“Well yes,” said the gentleman, “But here in Ireland, you must understand that there are two kinds of atheists: Catholic atheists and Protestant atheists.”

Can the same be said of the independents? Are there two kinds: Republican independents and Democratic independents?

If the answer to that question is “yes,” the future may not bode well for Connecticut Democrats. Everyone assumes that the breakdown will be the same as in the general population so that among independents we may have disenchanted Republicans, genuine independents, and disenchanted Democrats. And just as in the general population Republicans far out number Democrats, so among independents disenchanted Democrats may far outnumber disenchanted Republicans.

We need a study exploring the nature of voting independents in Connecticut and elsewhere. Is the independent a man in revolt? Is he simply listless and tired? Is he disenchanted with the herd mentality of the committed party man? Is he a modern version of the anarchistic Henry David Thoreau shouting out from the rooftop of his cabin in the woods: "That government is best which governs least"; and I should like to see it acted up to more rapidly and systematically. Carried out, it finally amounts to this, which also I believe, — "That government is best which governs not at all…”

Perhaps there is such a study and it has not got the publicity it deserves. Elections in Connecticut for sometime have been turning upon this pivot, just as the fate of the progressive’s attempt to brush every tear aside with a cumbersome universal health care initiative depends upon Lieberman the independent. And who is he: an independent, or a Democrat in exile?

We should be able to answer both questions with a minimum of venom.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Day Thwacks Williams, Donovan

In a bone crunching editorial in The Day of New London on Sunday, President Pro Tem of the Senate Don Williams and Speaker of the House Chris Donovan are sent to the infirmary:

“No one in the Democratic leadership, it appears, wants to face the reality of a dramatic decrease in tax revenues tied to a prolonged recession. By all reports, the Democratic caucus cannot agree how to proceed, likely leading to inaction on Tuesday. Support and faith in Senate President Donald E. Williams Jr., D-Brooklyn, has severely eroded. House Speaker Christopher G. Donovan, D-Meriden, may have a stellar liberal record of supporting health care for the poor, children's programs and organized labor, but he seems ill-suited for a time that requires tough decisions that will harm some of those very constituencies.”
The Democratic controlled legislature is, The Day asserts “Frozen with fear when confronting a monster largely of its own making, the Democratic leadership in the General Assembly is readying to "gavel in and gavel out" when legislators return Tuesday for a special session, ordered by Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell to deal with a budget deficit approaching $500 million.

“In other words, the Democrats in control of the legislature may once again ignore the fiscal crisis that confronts the state and instead head home for the holidays.”

The New Haven Register patiently explains to Donovan and Williams what a spending cut really is:

"Democrats, who control the General Assembly, have been loathe to make real cuts in state spending, preferring to prop up a governmental structure that its revenues cannot support. The boiler plate claims in their constituent letters of millions in spending cuts actually refer to cuts in spending increases. Under the budget that was adopted without the governor’s signature, state spending increases this year and next."

And even the usually eupeptic, spend-it-while-you-got-it Hartford Courant points to a bleak future:

"And this squabble over cutting a couple hundred million dollars foreshadows what lies ahead in the next biennium: the far more difficult job of balancing budgets that could be several billion dollars in deficit."

Chris Powell, the Managing Editor of the Journal Inquirer, knows what has to be done, but it is doubtful his message will reach the ears of Williams and Donovan. Where there is no will to ameliorate an increasingly desperate state of affairs, there can be no way out of the getting and spending box, Connecticut's "little ease," a contrivance fashioned by the French to sweat prisoners in which luckless prisoners found themselves in a cramped space where they could neither lie down or stand up.

In the "little ease" contrived by the legislature, there will be much to think about come the next election.

Merry Christmas.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Friday, December 11, 2009

Dodd's Impending Retirement

U.S. Sen. Dodd is being urged, here in Connecticut and elsewhere, to surrender his seat to someone whose poll numbers are more favorable. Far left progressives in the state have made it no secret that they think Dodd has been so damaged by a persistent negative political narrative that he has become a place holder for other promising candidates. Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, the Hamlet of Greenwich, and Rep. Chris Murphy both have been mentioned as possible replacements.

Dodd, all along, has been stoutly defended by Colleen Flanagan, a state Democratic Party spokeswoman.

Replying to a beltway Cook Report that Dodd is “just too badly damaged to have a decent shot at getting re-elected, almost regardless of who wins the Republican nomination,” Flanagan sent out a press release:

"It's no secret what the Washington smart guys think about this race,'' she said in an email after the Courant asked for a comment.”But it just doesn't matter what they think. They don't vote in Connecticut and they don't really understand Chris Dodd's decades of service and the relationship he's built with folks here by delivering for them time and again."

Hartford Courant political reporter Daniela Altimari responded on Capitol Watch, Courant reporter Chris Keating’s blog:

“Yet, the depth of Dodd' troubles are clear to many in Connecticut, where once heretical whispers that the state's senior senator step aside in favor of the immense popular Attorney General Richard Blumenthal or perhaps U.S. Rep. Chris Murphy, have grown louder.

“Following Dodd's lousy showing in a Quinnipiac University poll last month, the Courant spoke with more than a dozen Democratic party activists and left-leaning bloggers. While few were willing go on the record, they all spoke of their fears that Dodd wouldn't be able turn things around by election day, 2010 and many privately expressed their hopes that he would step aside for the overall benefit of the party.”

A blogger at Connecticut Local Politics put the whole matter in a nutshell when he wrote, exasperatedly:, “The Dems should drop Dodd and run Murphy for his seat.”

Here are the embedded assumptions in this ever hopeful scenario:

1) Dodd can be persuaded – by whom? – to give up his seat to either Blumenthal or Murphy.

2) Blumenthal or Murphy will rise to the challenge and run for the U.S. senate in Dodd’s stead.

It’s misleading to speak of the Democrats as if there were some sort of official delegation that could “drop Dodd.”

John Bailey, who as party boss in Connecticut used to arrange party tickets in smoke filled rooms, has been dead and gone these may years.

In his own day, Connecticut’s best known party boss, might have been able to arrange an effective visitation. But today Bailey has been replaced in Connecticut politics by enraged bloggers and a handful of disparate, increasingly nervous party members and journalistic bean counters – who are far less effective in his kind of thing. We all recall the impressive delegation that demanded President Richard Nixon’s resignation. That group of executioners, Barry Goldwater among them, would not have been effective today, because the parties have lost a good deal of their cache.

Dodd, and many other incumbent politicians, is his own party

Dodd might be “dropped” in a primary. But neither of the two possible replacements mentioned here – Blumenthal and Murphy – have expressed any inclination to primary Dodd.

Dodd might be “dropped” in a nominating convention. But in that case, Murphy or Blumenthal would have had to gather delegate votes, and there is no indication that either is in the process of doing so.

This means that only Dodd can “drop” Dodd.

Perhaps a not so gentle persuasion will do the trick.

There is some movement in this direction. Dodd is being urged by some activist and journalists to surrender his position to some more promising candidate whose poll numbers are higher than his.

Dennis House over at Channel 3 has speculated that someone other than Dodd (SOTD) might be better situated to hold the seat for Democrats. And some bloggers have been more forceful, suggesting Dodd should be made an offer he cannot refuse, perhaps by the Obama administration.

That’s it.

Dodd says, “No, no. Still running.”

Conclusion: Only Dodd can make such a decision. And he has not made such a decision.

Vice President Joe Biden will be in Connecticut today to stump for Dodd. Unfortunately, Dodd himself will not be in attendance. The senator explained in a last minute press release: “Unfortunately, because of the possibility of votes on the Senate floor today, Senator Dodd will be unable to join Vice President Biden in Connecticut. The Senator's wife, Jackie Clegg Dodd, will fill-in for Senator Dodd'

Clegg-Dodd for senator!

Apologies to Murphy and Blumenthal.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Richard Blumenthal: The Worst Attorney General In The United States

Two years ago, the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) awarded Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal a dubious distinction. Citing four categories – Dubious Dealings, Fabricating Law, AG Imperialism/Usurping Legislative Powers and Predatory Practices – Blumenthal was crowned “the worst attorney general in the United States.” He had some fierce competition: Eliot Spitzer, New York’s attorney general, had not yet been toppled from his hobby horse by consorting with prostitutes.

Among the categories not mentioned by CEI was the misuse of fraudulent affidavits to secure from judges ex parte seizures of assets. An ex parte proceeding permits judges to invest prosecutors with the authority to seize the assets of persons they are investigating -- without a hearing before a judge.

Two cases now wending their way through various courts, one involving a tea and herb vendor and the other a wood pellet distributor, graphically demonstrate Blumenthal’s abuse of ex parte attachments of assets.

Three years ago, Blumenthal sued Valerie Hoffman, a vendor of herbs and tea, and presented before a judge an affidavit that was fatally flawed. By means of this affidavit, Blumenthal was able to seize the assets of both Valerie Hoffman and her husband, a contractor in Maine who had no material connection to his wife’s business. The ex parte seizure of assets and communications between Blumenthal and a Maine bank financing the contractor’s building activity shut down Mr. Hoffman’s business, as a result of which the Hoffmans lost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Mrs. Hoffman was called into the attorney general’s lair and told by a thuggish enforcer that she had embarrassed the attorney general. The settlement in her case would cost her $885,000. The price of doing business with Blumenthal thereafter was bumped up to $1.3 million, outrageous for an herb and tea vendor. The largest consumer protection case in US history was for less than a million, filed against Microsoft, a multi-billion dollar company.

The complaints alleged to have been filed against Hoffman through the state’s Consumer Protection Department and the attorney general’s office amounted to about 1% of her business. Mrs. Hoffman resisted because she felt she had done nothing wrong. Virtually all of the complaints were related to a process of terminating contracts forced upon her by the Department of Consumer Protection. The DEP had instructed her that her clients would be required to terminate their contracts only by certified mail, a costly and cumbersome process. Of complainants cited by Blumenthal, some had never done business with her; others lived out of state, presumably beyond the purview of Blumenthal’s authority; still others either failed to cancel by certified mail or failed to cancel in a timely as specified in the contracts and consequently received products they thought they had not ordered. All Hoffman’s’ clients had signed contracts on an auto ship program that stipulated the terms of the contract, posted three times on her internet sight, on her office wall and within in the contracts also. To order the product, her clients had to check the auto ship box, otherwise the order would not be processed.

When push finally came to shove in a superior court where Mrs. Hoffman’s lawyer, Jim Oliver, was able to question Hoffman’s accusers, Blumenthal’s case quickly fell apart. The testimony of the one witness attorney general Matt Fitzsimmons chose to testify – out of 200 complainants – unraveled because the witness admitted a) she hadn’t read the contract, and b) the cancellation procedure forced upon Mrs. Hoffman by the CPD was too troublesome and costly.

Fitzsimmons then took the stand himself as a witness in the case. The affidavit allowing the seizure of the assets of both Mrs. Hoffman and those of her husband was fatally flawed because Fitzsimmons had no personal knowledge of the underlying consumer transaction and therefore could not testify and a witness or serve as an affiant. He was, in fact, a hearsay witness who had no direct knowledge a) that complainants even real people or b) that the affidavit he was defending was authentic.

The Hoffman case -- a more complete examination of which may be found here:  -- has now wound its way through the Connecticut Supreme Court.

An important and lucid judgment not covered by the media already has been made by Superior Court Judge James Bentivega: “Fitsimmons lacked personal knowledge of the essential fact supporting the prejudgment attachments. He did not posses the requisite legal qualifications to provide the affidavits in question… This is a situation which may very well raise issues with respect to the rule s of personal conduct.”

In the face of that clear and unambiguous judgment, Blumenthal’s office is taking the rather novel legal position that the attorney general should be entitled to seize the property of Connecticut citizens based upon a fatally defective affidavit and the testimony of an assistant attorney general who lacks any personal knowledge of the underlying facts of the case.

This is not the first and it will not be the last time that Blumenthal has sought to impoverish his victims though excessive appeals, while shamelessly seizing property by means of defective affidavits. Unless Blumenthal is checked vigorously and often, no man’s property or honor in this state will be safe from his abuses.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Blumenthal: Follow The Bouncing Dollars

A splendidly written and researched story in Sunday’s Harford Courant by Josh Kovner and Jon Lender, demonstrates that the state’s attorney’s general office has become a money operation more interested in cash than justice.

The story calls into question a case prosecuted by Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, sometimes mentioned in press reports as a desirable Democratic candidate for governor or U.S. senator.

The owners of a Brookfield quarry, Rock Acquisition Limited Partnership, convinced their property had been undervalued by two appraisers, the last hired by Blumenthal, took their case to court and were fortunate enough to have the issue decided by Superior Court Judge Barbara J. Sheedy, who was attentive to the facts of the case.

Here are the facts:

1) The quarry owners questioned an appraisal of their property, taken by the state to allow the construction of a Route 7 highway bypass near Brookfield that opened last month. The owners thought their property was worth $20-$25 million. The state, which took the property though eminent domain, valued the 125 acre property at $4.1 million. The owners sued to recover the balance.

2) Enter Blumenthal, whose office shopped around for another appraiser, Kenneth Jones – who low-priced the property at $2.3 million, about one tenth of the value placed by the owner’s on their property and a savings for the state of $1.8 million. According to the Courant story, “Jones seemed to be just what officials desired when they hurriedly went expert-shopping in 2007 to defend the DOT's previous decisions in appraising the quarry.”

Assistant Attorney General Carol Young was pleased with the choice. She wrote in a September 2007 e-mail to Richard Allen, head of right-of-way acquisitions for the state DOT, “I think that he is the quarry expert that we need on this matter.”

Jones had valued a similar sized property in New Jersey at $47.5 million, although that property, unlike the undervalued Brookfield property, came outfitted with an illegal dump laced with asbestos debris.

3) At trial, Judge Sheedy, examining what the paper later called “the checkered background” of Jones -- handsomely paid $240,000 in fees and expenses for his defective appraisal -- fairly gagged, and Blumenthal lost the case. The state will now be forced to cough up $28 million to satisfy Rock Acquisition Limited Partnership, as well as the judge who, refreshingly, was committed to securing justice for one of Blumenthal’s victims and far less interested in making money for the state than Blumenthal’s greedy operatives.

This is not the first time that Blumenthal has used both the media and resources at his disposal to make money for Connecticut.

In the notorious Hoffman case, Blumenthal’s office submitted a fatally defective affidavit to a judge to secure an exparte attachment of assets. Among the assets he seized were those of the husband of the person he was prosecuting, and compelling evidence has been provided in that case to show that the husband’s business was not connected to his wife’s. In another case now wending its way through the courts, Blumenthal seized the business machinery of a wood pellet supplier by virtue of yet another defective affidavit. The affiant in that case, an inspector in Blumenthal’s office, later admitted in discovery that he was not a direct witness of any of the matters reported in his affidavit. And there is compelling sworn witness testimony in that case to show that the company sued by Blumenthal may have been subject to a shakedown initiated by the pellet company’s supplier. Blumenthal, in other words, may have prosecuted the wrong business. The distress caused by Blumenthal’s botched prosecution resulted in an attempted suicide by one of the company's partners, the seizure of whose business assets, accomplished by the defective affidavit, made it impossible for him to supply his customers with the promised goods he was frantically scrambling to buy from another resource.

Unfortunately, the media’s unquestioned acceptance of Blumenthal’s press releases – and, more importantly, its failure to report sufficiently on the after effects of his prosecutions – make the media Blumenthal’s principle enabler.

The Courant’s follow-up report on the questionable methods used by Blumenthal to secure easy convictions and negotiated settlements is a refreshing and hopeful sign that Blumenthal’s press release claims will in the future be subject to more careful and comprehensive media scrutiny.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Fedele's Chance

There is no log cabin in Lieutenant Governor Mike Fedele’s biography, but it’s an interesting read anyway: Born in Italy, Fedele came to the United States as a tot, worked hard and made good. He was plucked by Jodi Rell from the State House of Representatives to run as her Lieutenant Governor following the dark days of the John Rowland administration.

Fedele now is running for governor on the Republican Party ticket, and there are some perilous cliffs he must negotiate along the way.

The position of Lieutenant Governor is not the brightest spot in the political heavens. It is comparable on a state level to the Vice Presidential office, famously defined by John Nance Garner, Franklin Roosevelt’s Vice President, as being (a clean translation follows) “not worth a warm bucket of spit.”

Garner ran for the presidency and lost to Roosevelt but was chosen by the Democratic convention to share the ticket after he had released his pledged delegates to FDR.

Garner later opposed Roosevelt’s packing of the Supreme Court, stepping down as Vice President in January 1941 and bringing to a close a 46 year career. After his long run in public office, Garner settled in his home state of Texas. A good friend and political adviser to President Harry Truman, he devoted himself upon leaving office to his real estate business and fished a lot, which apparently was beneficial to his health: Garner died full of years at the ripe age of 98, establishing a record as the longest living Vice-President in U.S. history.

Fedele might have created more of a splash as Lieutenant Governor, but the political pool was immediately full with the addition of Lisa Moody as Gov. Rell’s chief aide.

As Lieutenant Governor, Fedele cannot help but find himself in a delicate position. It is generally supposed that the governor’s “lieutenant” ought to be loyal at all costs. Rell will finish out her term as a lame duck governor, which necessarily places Fedele squarely on the horns of a dilemma.

It is no secret in Republican quarters that Rell, in part because of the nature of her office, had not offered a stiff resistance to leading Democrats. Rell talked the talk when it was politically expedient for her to do so, but her behavior in office gives reason to doubt that she ever had been committed to any recognizable Republican program. She compromised on the matter of union pay and benefits, locking in expensive non-negotiable contracts well past the duration of her term. She blundered by refusing to sign a disastrously costly smoke and mirror budget, thinking that she could use her line item veto to expunge costly items, an unconstitutional option she was warned against by others of her advisors and the ever helpful lean and hungry Richard Blumenthal, the state’s highly partisan attorney general. Her chief of staff, Moody, was notorious for making deals with Democrats, a disposition that was apparently infectious.

Rell will ride off into the sunset at the end of the campaign season. Until that time, she will be hung like an albatross around Fedele’s neck by his opponents both within and outside his party. Lame duck governors do not usually inspire the kind of political loyalty most often connected to possible political favors. There will be no favors at the end of Rell’s run. And it will not be possible for Republicans gubernatorial hopefuls to run a principled and spirited campaign against Democratic contenders without muddying the shoes of the departing Republican governor.

The hero of every un-heroic politician, Yogi Berra, once advised, “When you reach a fork in the road, take it.”

Sometime during the campaign, Fedele will reach his fork in the road, and he will not be able to follow Berra’s advice.

At some point in the campaign, the Republican gubernatorial aspirant will be asked whether he will part ways with the Democratic legislative majority on the matter of spending and taxes. Or it will be pointed out that a Republican governor disposed to cut business taxes will be outnumbered by Democrats who during the last budget fandango proposed a crippling 30% increase in such taxes. These are forks in the campaign road. The fate of the state depends upon which route the next governor will take, and Republicans are not as fortunate as Democrats in such matters, because their solutions will be painful in the short run, beneficial in the long run.

For Republicans, one fork in the road points to the governor’s chair and a hard slog ahead. The other fork leads to success, a quick surrender, a fatal policy for the state and, for any future Republican governor who has not read the signs of the times, early retirement in the ruins with lots of fishing.

Say what? Who’s “Misleading And Deceptive?”

In the face of a current budget deficit of nearly half a billion dollars, Republicans are proposing what they have always proposed -- a modest cut in spending of 6.5%.

The Republicans also want to restore 84 million in cuts to municipalities as well as the half percentage point sales tax reduction that disappeared because Speaker of the House Chris Donovan and President Pro Tem of the Senate Don Williams cleverly pegged the reduction to disappearing revenues. The tax would have remained in place if state revenues did not sink below a predictable level that caused its elimination.

The Republican proposal has caused the union bought Speaker of the State House of Representatives to reach for his adjectives. Speaker Chris Donovan denounced the Republican plan as “misleading and deceptive" – sort of like the budget he and President Pro Tem of the Senate Don Williams fashioned, which is now, only weeks after its passage through the Democratic dominated legislature, a half million dollars in the red.

In the new fiscal year, the state will face a multi-billion dollar budget gap, Christmas pudding to the Democrats, whose as yet unannounced plan is to cover the bulk of the coming deficit by increasing Connecticut’s new progressive income tax.

Gov. Jodi Rell, now a lame duck and free to display her true colors, objected to the Republican plan because it contained a $36 million cut in higher education spending that would deny the state $541 million in stimulus funny- money that the federal government is prepared to borrow from the Chinese government, whose economic program is decidedly more Friedmanesque than President Barrack Obama’s command economy.

Donovan was delighted, as always, to use Rell’s objection to frustrate Republican measures, the one constant in his too expensive leadership of the House.

Williams, Donovan’s co-partner in the Senate, was encouraged that more and more lawmakers were speaking out on cue “about the negative impacts Gov. Rell's proposed cuts would have on cities and towns. Unfortunately, while Republicans say they want to protect municipalities, their own plan would shift many costs to cities and towns, make mid-year property taxes more likely, and possibly compromise public safety.”

The Democratic leadership's concern for the public safety is touching, all the more so since the Judiciary committee co-chaired by the Catholic averse Michael Lawlor in the House and Andrew McDonald in the Senate, reinstated days before William’s announcement “an early release program for prison inmates that was curtailed after two parolees were charged with killing a woman and her two daughters in Cheshire in 2007,” according to an Associated Press story.

Lawlor said, according to the AP report, that the decision of his committee was “part of the state budget approved by lawmakers and supported by Gov. M. Jodi Rell. Officials say it will save about $4 million a year by reducing the prison population.”

With a bow to public safety, leading Democrats in the legislature consistently have refused to pass a Republican inspired “three strikes and you’re out” law for violent offenders. When the Democratic dominated legislature rejected the effort while punctiliously passing a bill making it illegal for citizens to keep dangerous large primates as pets, Chris Powell, the Managing Editor of the Journal Inquirer and a columnist for that paper, noted the logical inconsistencies of Democratic legislators and could not help but notice the similarity between chimps and chumps:

“Responding to the horrible incident in Stamford in February, the legislature outlawed making pets of large primates and other animals considered dangerous. But the legislature has yet to respond to the horrible incident in Cheshire two years ago, in which a woman and her two daughters were murdered, purportedly by two career criminals on parole. Not only did the legislature refuse again this year to pass a "three strikes" law or even a "20 strikes" law; it again declined to inquire into why the defendants in Connecticut's worst atrocity in living memory have not even been brought to trial after two years. Apparently it is enough that Connecticut is now a bit safer from rogue chimpanzees.”

As a point of interest, it may be noted that the “three strikes and you’re out” bill was blocked in the legislature after the founder of the Three Strikes Coalition, Sam Caligiuri, announced his bid to run for U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd’s seat.

Caligiuri, as well as Justin Bernier, an energetic and promising Republican, currently is running for the 5th district U.S. House seat held by U.S. Rep. Chris Murphy.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Tiger Woods Is Not Alone

The Billings Gazette  is reporting that “Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, a Montana Democrat, was romantically involved with a former staffer when he recommended her earlier this year to become the next U.S. attorney for Montana…”

Baucus, a major proponant of health care legislation, and his former state director, Melodee Hanes, began their relationship, according to the paper, in the summer of 2008 after Baucus separated from his wife.

Baucus submitted Hanes’ name, along with five others, to a third party reviewer who submitted three names, including Hanes’, to the White House. President Barack Obama, possibly forewarned, chose Mike Cotter rather than Baucus’s girl friend for the position, which will supervise the prosecution of federal crimes committed in Montanba and its seven Indian reservations.

Roll Call, a Washington DC publication, reported that the Baucus-Hanes relationship nvegan in the summer of 2008, almost a year Baucus and his wife, Wanda, were divorced in April 2009. The two separated in March of 2008, according to the report, when Baucus began dating Hanes, who is also divorced and now lives with Baucus in the Eastern Market neighborhood of Washington, D.C.

There have been no reports that the former Mrs. Baucus took after the senator with a golf club upon hearing of his liason with Hanes while the senator was yet pledged by his marriage vows to abide with his wife till death do them part.

And there is no word as yet from U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd on the question: Will this hany-panky affect passage of the Health Care bill both he and Baucus have championed?

Friday, December 04, 2009

Fix The #!!**#!!"n Roof

Welcome to the Fairy tale.

U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd, the guy who is chiefly responsible, along with U.S. Rep Barney Franks, for destroying the U.S. Housing market, is teaming up with Chris Donovan, Connecticut’s House Speaker, who put together a budget half a billion dollars in the red one month after it was passed, to convince outgoing Gov. Jodi Rell to pony up $25 million so that the state can receive from the Barack Obama administration, deeply in debt to the Chinese, part of a stimulus outlay to be used ferry unemployed people on a new and improved train line connecting Springfield and Hartford.

The Hartford Courant will do everything in its power to facilitate this madness.

In the meantime, Connecticut’s economic roof is leaking buckets. Even the noses of Dodd and Donovan are wet with roof tar. Bits of shingle are swimming in their soup. The batting from the attic is hanging from the gaping ceiling. The couch where they both snooze together is green with mold.

But nevermind the roof. What the state really needs is a new car – preferably an eco-friendly hybrid.

And buses, we need buses.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

McMahon And The La La Bloggers

Progressives in the Democratic Party – there are progressives in the Republican Party as well, but the brigades are marching in opposite directions -- have for two decades been braiding the rope they plan to use to hang the rich, while leveling down the mini-millionaire peaks so that everyone in society can join a union and plunder unorganized workers.

Now comes Linda McMahon with a fist full of dollars, and what is their complaint?

They fear the Republican candidate for U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd’s seat may use her millions to escape hanging.

Here is an ardent progressive who comments on blogs under the handle “Anderson Scooper” -- sometimes referred to lovingly on the blog site “Connecticut Local Politics” as “Pooper Scooper” – lamenting Linda McMahon’s deep pockets:

“Linda is our opponent, not Rob [Simmons, also running for the U.S. Senate against Dodd]. Your side is desperate for a $50 Million GOTV operation, and if that means kissing WWE’s, Cappiello’s, and Mrs. Healy’s ass, your side will be happy to comply, even if it means embracing a DCCC and Rhambo (sic) approving RINO. Come convention time, Linda will have bought herself a lead in the polls, and that will be the only thing that matters. Except it won’t matter once Dodd retires in favor of Big Dick Blumenthal…”
Scooper imagines Attorney General Blumenthal will abandon his two decade’s old Hamlet act and throw his mailed fist into the ring, after the badly wounded Dodd finally comes to his senses and retires. Of such things are dreams made.

Quoting the left leaning Fairfield Weekly, another blogger, TheRealNixon, writes:

“The Fairfield Weekly just said: If we were Healy [the Republican Party Chairman], we’d also try to do away with the nearly unelectable McMahon. Her business is an embarrassment and she has no qualifications for governing. She doesn’t even vote. But you can’t flick aside someone with $30 million to spend on the race (and who’s been videotaped kicking a guy in the balls).

“Come on folks, Linda McMahon is an embarrassment. Just because the Dems. have comedian turned Senator Al Franken doesn’t mean we should nominate someone whose only experience solving problems is, as the Fairfield Weekly said, ‘kicking a guy in the balls.’”
The real Nixon would be abashed at TheRealNixon’s attempt to frustrate such behavior.

The real Dick Nixon, might have said: “First thing guy, if you must impersonate me, get the character right. Second, have you talked to any women lately? Have you talked to any Big Brother survivalists? Some in the Connecticut Republican Party were hoping against hope that outgoing Gov. Rell had the intestinal fortitude to kick the Democratic legislative leadership — you know who those guys are — in the balls. They richly deserved it. She didn’t. Maybe the next Republican governor will.”

And, the Real Dick Nixon would have added: “McMahon should use that clip in her advertisements: Send me to Congress -- this is what I’ll do.” Clip follows showing McMahon sending a prissy congressman-for-life to the mat with her foot.

Connecticut, people forget, is the state that sent P. T. Barnum of Barnum and Bailey Circus fame to their legislature. Barnum was elected to the Connecticut legislature in 1865 as a Republican for Fairfield, and served two terms. He also served as Mayor of Bridgeport was more successful in both ventures than many of the clowns presently running the three ring circus at the state Capitol today – which is not to say that U.S. Sen. McMahon will not simple turn into a shuttle cock after her first year in office in the U.S. Senate, the usual fate of the average congressional legislator, including Dodd.

But McMahon’s background, it should be admitted, perfectly suits her for the job at hand.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Axe The Tax Cut

Feeling the pinch, leading Democrats in the state legislature quickly settled on a means of bringing somewhat into balance a recently passed spending plan that Democratic State Comptroller Nancy Wyman asserted was about half a million short early in November, a few weeks after the legislature had passed the budget.

The ladies and gentlemen in the legislature cut tax relief out of the spending lard.

Wyman, of course, was too polite in her assessment of the budget, little more than a legislative Ponzi scheme designed to convince voters that the legislature, in tandem with the governor, had settled an annoying deficit. The budget itself -- a meandering $37.6 billion that disperses $18.64 billion this fiscal year and $18.93 billion in 2010-11 – was a chewing gum and string concoction that relied on one time revenue sources and disappearing savings.

Moody’s Investor Service took one look at the budget, shrieked at the choices made by the legislature to address budget gaps and an anticipated fiscal 2009 shortfall, and lowered Connecticut’s bond rating from stable to negative.

The Democratic dominated legislature’s sales tax cut has now been given a decent burial. From the very beginning, the tax cut – about half a percentage point – was tied to a predictable dip in state revenues. If revenue collections were to fall below a certain level, the cut was to be abandoned. Revenues fell. The tax relief was abandoned.

The sales tax, as we were told endlessly during Lowell Weicker’s successful effort to enact an income tax, is the most regressive of taxes; that is to say, it is a punitive tax hardest for the poorest in Connecticut to bear.

A sales tax cut, therefore, should be regarded a stimulus package for the little guy who is not too big to fail. Entrenched power brokers too big to fail can easily fend for themselves – usually by bribing a legislator with campaign contributions or by successfully seeking from their political patrons special exemptions not available to the little guy who will uncomplainingly pay sales taxes. Once again, the Democratic controlled legislature has repudiated those they traditionally claim to represent, demonstrating at the same time their loathing for stimulus packages that contain no earmarks.

The same legislature that attached a progressive feature to the income tax now has decided to ditch the estate tax cut. Who says you can’t get blood from corpses? Florida, which has neither a state income tax nor an estate tax, is likely to benefit most from the measure. From 2002 to 2006, 27,773 households moved from Connecticut to Florida.

Since the onset of the current recession, Connecticut has lost 85,400 jobs, a figure expected to rise to more than 100,000. Businesses are either fleeing the state or waiting for an opportunity to make a prosperous exit. State revenues are down because in Connecticut, and in much of the nation as well, state coffers are filled by precisely those tax “investors” that have seen their taxable income diminish in the current recession. This means that the addition of a progressive feature to Connecticut’s income tax will make this revenue source more not less volatile.

The day after Thanksgiving, the Hartford Business Journal reported that Connecticut’s unemployment insurance fund has become insolvent. But not to worry, the state will borrow nearly $1 billion from the federal government over the next two years so jobless residents can continue to collect unemployment checks. The federal government, in its turn, will squeeze its major creditors – China, for instance – for the necessary funds.

To summarize briefly: The pools of tax income in the state have so diminished that Connecticut is forced to borrow money from a federal government that continues to drive up spending while itself borrowing money from increasingly nervous and by no means amicable foreign lenders who have “invested” in a dollar the value of which continues to plummet.

None of Connecticut’s legislative ostriches, their heads comfortably buried in the sand, are eager to bite the bullet and cut spending. Perhaps the next governor will be able to summon enough courage to tell it like it is. But don’t bet the farm on it – or the diminishing dollar which, measured against the euro, has lost about half its value over the last ten years alone.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Some Chinks in Dodd’s Armor

A distinction may be made between the popularity of persons (non-transferable) and the popularity of positions and programs (transferable, sometimes).

President Barack Obama personality continues to resonate with many people, though there has been some slippage lately. His programs, largely radical, are iffier. Obama’s luster is not likely to rub off on Dodd; the disparities are too great. But there is no question Dodd has attached his fate to that of the Obama agenda: a highly regulated economy and the nationalization of heath care, to mention but two points.

Dodd’s fate is also connected to what might be called the wellness of his state; and, here again, the economic programs to which he has attached his political kite are doubtable, if not doubtful. Dodd has also shifted to the center in foreign policy, which is very odd in his case.

Dodd is not made of pro-war stuff – never has been. In economic policy, he has been in the past somewhat moderate. In the last few months, we have seen a paradigm shift in both these areas. Obama is now pursuing a Bush policy in Afghanistan, a part of the world that very well could be a quagmire for American troops. All these things are arguable since the fate of Afghanistan will depend upon facts on the ground that have yet to emerge.

What is not arguable is the paradigm shift on Dodd’s part: He has moved far to the left on domestic policy and to the center on current foreign policy.

Voters generally react negatively to sharp shifts and late conversions in politicians who have been in office a long time. In a politician of long standing, shifts of this kind are looked upon by the general public with a baleful eye and leave politicians open to damaging criticism from political opponents. These paradigm shifts place Dodd in a precarious position. He would be in even more trouble if Republicans could criticize him for his implicit support of the president’s “war of necessity” in Afghanistan.

Dodd was outspoken on the first Persian Gulf War, which he thought would be a quagmire resembling Vietnam. He was wrong. His anti-war posture was muted during Bush’s war in Iraq, until the president stumbled badly, at which point he and the loyal Democratic opposition in congress found their tongues.

In a statement in December 2007, Dodd pronounced the war in Iraq “a failure” and said clear bold action was necessary to end a war that had “made us less secure, more vulnerable and more isolated.” Dodd called for a “deadline to end the war tied to funding.” The time for giving Bush blank checks was over, Dodd said. He was strongly opposed to the Bush-Cheney troop surge. He advocated a surge in diplomacy, not troops, and agitated for a re-deployment to be completed within one year, by December 2008.

Obama won election on his promise to bring the troops out of Iraq shortly after he had become president. After much bumbling, Bush found his General Grant in General David Petraeus, and the general’s strategy has made the current troop withdrawals possible. The earlier withdrawals Dodd hankered after would have doomed the war effort in Iraq.

In the meanwhile, the eight-year Afghanistan war continues, and every argument used by progressives in their opposition to the war in Iraq applies as well to Afghanistan. Now that Obama is president, the anti-war opposition is in retreat among those members of congress who were only to happy to oppose Bush’s “war of choice.” It has been preserved, like a dried flower pressed in a bible, by Cindy Sheehan and a few other anti-war stalwarts.

The terrorist trials in New York are upcoming. Some commentators are suggesting that because the terrorists may not be able to find an unpolluted jury in New York, where the destruction of the Twin Towers are yet a vivid and painful memory, the trial should be moved to Connecticut. The terrorist trial featuring Kahlid Sheik Mohammed, the chief facilitator of 9/11 and the self confessed executioner of Daniel Pearl, may be viewed as a practical implementation of Dodd’s previous positions on how terrorists should be treated.

Dodd has long pressed for a Nuremberg stage upon which terrorists may be tried. The trials in New York even now are shaping up as classic show trials. Such was Nuremburg – with this difference: The German army had been defeated before the military tribunal commenced. Extremely mobile terrorists are still active, and a trial in a non-military court, in the course of which a terrorist who arranged the bombing of the Twin Towers in New York is to be invested with all the rights of a citizen of the United States, will be an invaluable recruiting tool for al-Qaeda. If the death penalty is imposed on Kahlid Sheik Mohammed during a non-military trial, it is likely that European countries that do not have the death penalty will not be willing to transfer for trial to the United States any terrorist taken in battle who may be executed for his “crimes.”

The final act of 9/11, which some consider certain to be a farce, still lies behind a drawn curtain. But few doubt that when it is brought on stage, it will affect the futures of politicians such as Dodd and others who have argued for the value of show trials in non-military courts for those whom previous presidents from George Washington to Abraham Lincoln would have considered unlawful combatants falling outside the conventions of war. The British did not hesitate to execute without trial Connecticut’s hero Nathan Hale, and Washington four years later did the same to Major Andre, according him a military trial and hanging him because, as the military board said, he had been found guilty of being behind American lines "under a feigned name and in a disguised habit." The conspirators in Lincoln’s assassination were tried by the military and executed after Grant had accepted Lee’s surrender at Appomattox.

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