Commentary Magazine


Topic: Connecticut

Connecticut Front-Runner’s Woes May Help Simmons, Not McMahon

The news that Linda McMahon’s campaign was the source for the New York Times article exposing Richard Blumenthal’s lies about his Vietnam War record provides an interesting irony for the GOP primary in Connecticut.

As Politico noted, it was probably McMahon’s deep pockets that financed the research about Blumenthal, though it must be acknowledged that when the Times wants to dig into someone’s background to find dirt — whether real or imagined — the Gray Lady finds the money. John McCain, who was the subject of a months-long investigation based on unsubstantiated allegations of infidelity during the 2008 presidential campaign, can testify to that.

However, it can be argued that the revelations about Blumenthal’s mendacity could actually undermine McMahon’s own primary campaign rather than help it. McMahon jumped into the Connecticut GOP Senate race thinking that former congressman Rob Simmons could be beaten easily in the primary by her superior financial resources. The fact that Simmons was a more credible candidate and had governmental experience was also discounted as being of negligible value in a year in which outsider status had greater appeal to discontented voters.

But by bringing to light Blumenthal’s lies about serving in Vietnam when in fact he dodged the draft by obtaining several deferments and then gaining a coveted spot in a Reserve unit in Washington (where he participated in Toys for Tots programs rather than in fighting), McMahon may have given Simmons the break he was looking for. As it happens, Simmons is a real Vietnam combat veteran. As such, he will be better placed to exploit the voters’ disgust with Blumenthal’s lies than is McMahon, whose only combat experience is of the stage-managed pro-wrestling variety in which the steroid-filled buffoons she and her husband employed pretended to hurt each other.

Once incumbent Chris Dodd decided to pull the plug on his scandal-plagued re-election effort and Blumenthal declared his intention to run, the Connecticut seat went from being in play to one that was classified as safely in the Democratic column. However, as I wrote last month, the first reviews of Blumenthal’s candidacy were decidedly negative. Though he has always been considered the golden boy of the state’s Democratic Party — albeit one that was strangely reluctant to take his chances and run for a higher office than state attorney general — once he hit the campaign trail this year, many Democrats began to worry that he was “Martha Coakley in Pants.” But the Times blockbuster isn’t merely another embarrassment for a faltering campaign. For a man like Blumenthal, whose main asset was a reputation for integrity (in a state whose high officials have had a distressing tendency to be convicted on corruption charges in recent years), a story that reveals him as a serial liar has the potential to destroy his candidacy.

Blumenthal will attempt to salvage the situation this afternoon in a press conference in which he will, no doubt, attempt to discredit the Times and/or McMahon. But you can’t help but wonder whether Connecticut Democrats, who thought they were putting scandal behind them when they replaced Dodd with Blumenthal, are now wondering whether they just exchanged one problem for another.

The news that Linda McMahon’s campaign was the source for the New York Times article exposing Richard Blumenthal’s lies about his Vietnam War record provides an interesting irony for the GOP primary in Connecticut.

As Politico noted, it was probably McMahon’s deep pockets that financed the research about Blumenthal, though it must be acknowledged that when the Times wants to dig into someone’s background to find dirt — whether real or imagined — the Gray Lady finds the money. John McCain, who was the subject of a months-long investigation based on unsubstantiated allegations of infidelity during the 2008 presidential campaign, can testify to that.

However, it can be argued that the revelations about Blumenthal’s mendacity could actually undermine McMahon’s own primary campaign rather than help it. McMahon jumped into the Connecticut GOP Senate race thinking that former congressman Rob Simmons could be beaten easily in the primary by her superior financial resources. The fact that Simmons was a more credible candidate and had governmental experience was also discounted as being of negligible value in a year in which outsider status had greater appeal to discontented voters.

But by bringing to light Blumenthal’s lies about serving in Vietnam when in fact he dodged the draft by obtaining several deferments and then gaining a coveted spot in a Reserve unit in Washington (where he participated in Toys for Tots programs rather than in fighting), McMahon may have given Simmons the break he was looking for. As it happens, Simmons is a real Vietnam combat veteran. As such, he will be better placed to exploit the voters’ disgust with Blumenthal’s lies than is McMahon, whose only combat experience is of the stage-managed pro-wrestling variety in which the steroid-filled buffoons she and her husband employed pretended to hurt each other.

Once incumbent Chris Dodd decided to pull the plug on his scandal-plagued re-election effort and Blumenthal declared his intention to run, the Connecticut seat went from being in play to one that was classified as safely in the Democratic column. However, as I wrote last month, the first reviews of Blumenthal’s candidacy were decidedly negative. Though he has always been considered the golden boy of the state’s Democratic Party — albeit one that was strangely reluctant to take his chances and run for a higher office than state attorney general — once he hit the campaign trail this year, many Democrats began to worry that he was “Martha Coakley in Pants.” But the Times blockbuster isn’t merely another embarrassment for a faltering campaign. For a man like Blumenthal, whose main asset was a reputation for integrity (in a state whose high officials have had a distressing tendency to be convicted on corruption charges in recent years), a story that reveals him as a serial liar has the potential to destroy his candidacy.

Blumenthal will attempt to salvage the situation this afternoon in a press conference in which he will, no doubt, attempt to discredit the Times and/or McMahon. But you can’t help but wonder whether Connecticut Democrats, who thought they were putting scandal behind them when they replaced Dodd with Blumenthal, are now wondering whether they just exchanged one problem for another.

Read Less

RE: Connecticut Democratic Senate Candidate Toast?

It seems that one of Richard Blumenthal’s potential Republican opponents, Linda McMahon, served up to the New York Times the information regarding his Vietnam-service fakery. This raises two interesting questions. Neither of them is did McMahon’s camp do anything untoward or will it benefit from slaying Blumenthal. (No and yes are the easy answers, respectively, to those.)

First, why didn’t the Times identify the source? After all, it is relevant for readers to know where it came from. And now the Times looks like it was hiding the ball. Maybe McMahon’s team demanded it be unsourced. Well, poppycock. The Times should have said no in that case. The McMahon camp, more than the Times, needed to get the story out.

And this raises the second question: why didn’t the Times itself uncover the scoop? As its story details, there was plenty of information available. How could the “paper of record” have failed to figure it out on its own? Hmm. Could be the Gray Lady only spends time digging through Republicans’ war records and the Wasilla public library.

Now to give credit, the Times did run the story. But if it hadn’t, another outlet would have gotten the story, and once again tongues would wag that liberals’ favorite paper has a selective research team. Maybe Clark Hoyt will answer these questions. Well, we can always hope.

It seems that one of Richard Blumenthal’s potential Republican opponents, Linda McMahon, served up to the New York Times the information regarding his Vietnam-service fakery. This raises two interesting questions. Neither of them is did McMahon’s camp do anything untoward or will it benefit from slaying Blumenthal. (No and yes are the easy answers, respectively, to those.)

First, why didn’t the Times identify the source? After all, it is relevant for readers to know where it came from. And now the Times looks like it was hiding the ball. Maybe McMahon’s team demanded it be unsourced. Well, poppycock. The Times should have said no in that case. The McMahon camp, more than the Times, needed to get the story out.

And this raises the second question: why didn’t the Times itself uncover the scoop? As its story details, there was plenty of information available. How could the “paper of record” have failed to figure it out on its own? Hmm. Could be the Gray Lady only spends time digging through Republicans’ war records and the Wasilla public library.

Now to give credit, the Times did run the story. But if it hadn’t, another outlet would have gotten the story, and once again tongues would wag that liberals’ favorite paper has a selective research team. Maybe Clark Hoyt will answer these questions. Well, we can always hope.

Read Less

Connecticut Democratic Senate Candidate Toast?

The Democrats thought they saved Chris Dodd’s Senate seat when the ethically challenged senator from Countrywide announced his retirement and Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal entered the race. But now there’s this from the New York Times:

“We have learned something important since the days that I served in Vietnam,” Mr. Blumenthal said to [a group of senior citizen and veterans] gathered in Norwalk in March 2008. “And you exemplify it. Whatever we think about the war, whatever we call it — Afghanistan or Iraq — we owe our military men and women unconditional support.”

There was one problem: Mr. Blumenthal, a Democrat now running for the United States Senate, never served in Vietnam. He obtained at least five military deferments from 1965 to 1970 and took repeated steps that enabled him to avoid going to war, according to records.

Yes, lots of candidates have gotten tangled up in Vietnam-service records, but Blumenthal is in a class by himself, the Gray Lady charges:

But what is striking about Mr. Blumenthal’s record is the contrast between the many steps he took that allowed him to avoid Vietnam, and the misleading way he often speaks about that period of his life now, especially when he is speaking at veterans’ ceremonies or other patriotic events.

Sometimes his remarks have been plainly untrue, as in his speech to the group in Norwalk. At other times, he has used more ambiguous language, but the impression left on audiences can be similar.

OK, if this is true, he’s toast in the race and probably needs to resign from his current job. Even Paul Begala calls it “indefensible” and “a catastrophic mistake.” (And if there’s one thing Begala knows, it’s an ethical scandal.) The primary is in August, so Democrats have the chance to find a replacement for the replacement. But they better hurry — the nominating convention is this Friday. (Hmm, was the Gray Lady doing the party a favor in getting Blumenthal out of the way now?) There’s got to be some Democrat in the state who’s not ethically deficient, right?

The Democrats thought they saved Chris Dodd’s Senate seat when the ethically challenged senator from Countrywide announced his retirement and Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal entered the race. But now there’s this from the New York Times:

“We have learned something important since the days that I served in Vietnam,” Mr. Blumenthal said to [a group of senior citizen and veterans] gathered in Norwalk in March 2008. “And you exemplify it. Whatever we think about the war, whatever we call it — Afghanistan or Iraq — we owe our military men and women unconditional support.”

There was one problem: Mr. Blumenthal, a Democrat now running for the United States Senate, never served in Vietnam. He obtained at least five military deferments from 1965 to 1970 and took repeated steps that enabled him to avoid going to war, according to records.

Yes, lots of candidates have gotten tangled up in Vietnam-service records, but Blumenthal is in a class by himself, the Gray Lady charges:

But what is striking about Mr. Blumenthal’s record is the contrast between the many steps he took that allowed him to avoid Vietnam, and the misleading way he often speaks about that period of his life now, especially when he is speaking at veterans’ ceremonies or other patriotic events.

Sometimes his remarks have been plainly untrue, as in his speech to the group in Norwalk. At other times, he has used more ambiguous language, but the impression left on audiences can be similar.

OK, if this is true, he’s toast in the race and probably needs to resign from his current job. Even Paul Begala calls it “indefensible” and “a catastrophic mistake.” (And if there’s one thing Begala knows, it’s an ethical scandal.) The primary is in August, so Democrats have the chance to find a replacement for the replacement. But they better hurry — the nominating convention is this Friday. (Hmm, was the Gray Lady doing the party a favor in getting Blumenthal out of the way now?) There’s got to be some Democrat in the state who’s not ethically deficient, right?

Read Less

Flotsam and Jetsam

“Recovery” means something other than a steady, predictable improvement in the economy: “The Dow Jones industrial average plunged nearly 1,000 points in afternoon trading before recovering significantly Thursday — but it was enough to sow chaos on Wall Street as traders blamed everything from a technical glitch to chaos in the Greek economy. In Washington, the sudden drop — the biggest within a single trading day in Dow history — underscored just how fragile the nascent recovery could be, as the White House tries to convince the public that signs of growth mean the economy has begun to turn the corner.”

“Transparent” means you have to be taken to court to disclose documents to congressional investigators: “Senate Homeland Security Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and ranking Republican Susan Collins (Maine) on Thursday said they are poised to press their subpoena fight with the Obama administration into court. Lieberman and Collins, speaking separately, both said the Justice and Defense departments have been uncooperative with their efforts to obtain more information about the November 2009 shootings at Fort Hood, Texas, that killed 13 people.”

Reset” means all is forgiven: “President Obama is preparing to revive a civilian nuclear cooperation agreement with Moscow that his predecessor shelved two years ago in protest of Russia’s war on its tiny neighbor, Georgia, administration officials said Thursday. Renewing the agreement would be the latest step in Mr. Obama’s drive to repair relations between the two powers, at a time when he is seeking Moscow’s support for tough new sanctions against Iran. But word of the move has generated consternation in Congress, where some lawmakers were already skeptical of the agreement and now worry that Mr. Obama is giving Russia too much.”

“Awareness of the potential political consequences of the actions” means holy cow — the Democrats are going to get wiped out! Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland: “I think we need to proceed with some awareness of the potential political consequences of the actions that are undertaken here in Washington.”

Civility” means his critics should shut up. “Less than a week after promoting the need to treat others ‘with courtesy and respect,’ the unhappy warrior was at it again yesterday with a misleading attack on the motives of an opponent. Responding to an amendment offered by Senator Richard Shelby to limit the scope of the proposed Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Mr. Obama said, ‘I will not allow amendments like this one written by Wall Street’s lobbyists to pass for reform.’ Mr. Civility was insulting the gentleman from Alabama, but even if delivered in dignified language, the attack was false.”

ObamaCare” means you’re not going to keep your health-care plan. Yuval Levin explains that “it turns out that several major corporations are drawing up plans to end their employee health benefits once Obamacare gets up and running. They’ve done the math and figured out that the penalty they would have to pay for dropping their workers would be much lower than the costs of continuing to insure them, and now there will be a new taxpayer-subsidized option for those workers to turn to in state exchanges, so why not cut them off?”

For the New York Times,a pragmatist“ means a law-school dean (Elena Kagan) who signs an amicus brief arguing that military recruiters can be banned from campuses despite a contrary federal law. “She repeatedly criticized ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,’ the policy that bars gay men and lesbians from openly serving in the military. At one point she called it ‘a moral injustice of the first order.’  She also joined a legal brief urging the Supreme Court to overturn the law that denied federal funds to colleges and universities that barred military recruiters.”

“Recovery” means something other than a steady, predictable improvement in the economy: “The Dow Jones industrial average plunged nearly 1,000 points in afternoon trading before recovering significantly Thursday — but it was enough to sow chaos on Wall Street as traders blamed everything from a technical glitch to chaos in the Greek economy. In Washington, the sudden drop — the biggest within a single trading day in Dow history — underscored just how fragile the nascent recovery could be, as the White House tries to convince the public that signs of growth mean the economy has begun to turn the corner.”

“Transparent” means you have to be taken to court to disclose documents to congressional investigators: “Senate Homeland Security Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and ranking Republican Susan Collins (Maine) on Thursday said they are poised to press their subpoena fight with the Obama administration into court. Lieberman and Collins, speaking separately, both said the Justice and Defense departments have been uncooperative with their efforts to obtain more information about the November 2009 shootings at Fort Hood, Texas, that killed 13 people.”

Reset” means all is forgiven: “President Obama is preparing to revive a civilian nuclear cooperation agreement with Moscow that his predecessor shelved two years ago in protest of Russia’s war on its tiny neighbor, Georgia, administration officials said Thursday. Renewing the agreement would be the latest step in Mr. Obama’s drive to repair relations between the two powers, at a time when he is seeking Moscow’s support for tough new sanctions against Iran. But word of the move has generated consternation in Congress, where some lawmakers were already skeptical of the agreement and now worry that Mr. Obama is giving Russia too much.”

“Awareness of the potential political consequences of the actions” means holy cow — the Democrats are going to get wiped out! Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland: “I think we need to proceed with some awareness of the potential political consequences of the actions that are undertaken here in Washington.”

Civility” means his critics should shut up. “Less than a week after promoting the need to treat others ‘with courtesy and respect,’ the unhappy warrior was at it again yesterday with a misleading attack on the motives of an opponent. Responding to an amendment offered by Senator Richard Shelby to limit the scope of the proposed Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Mr. Obama said, ‘I will not allow amendments like this one written by Wall Street’s lobbyists to pass for reform.’ Mr. Civility was insulting the gentleman from Alabama, but even if delivered in dignified language, the attack was false.”

ObamaCare” means you’re not going to keep your health-care plan. Yuval Levin explains that “it turns out that several major corporations are drawing up plans to end their employee health benefits once Obamacare gets up and running. They’ve done the math and figured out that the penalty they would have to pay for dropping their workers would be much lower than the costs of continuing to insure them, and now there will be a new taxpayer-subsidized option for those workers to turn to in state exchanges, so why not cut them off?”

For the New York Times,a pragmatist“ means a law-school dean (Elena Kagan) who signs an amicus brief arguing that military recruiters can be banned from campuses despite a contrary federal law. “She repeatedly criticized ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,’ the policy that bars gay men and lesbians from openly serving in the military. At one point she called it ‘a moral injustice of the first order.’  She also joined a legal brief urging the Supreme Court to overturn the law that denied federal funds to colleges and universities that barred military recruiters.”

Read Less

When Watching Doesn’t Work

Daniel Foster has a good catch at The Corner: according to the New York Times profile of Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad, officials of the Joint Terrorism Task Force were investigating him as early as 2004.

That doesn’t mean, of course, that any suspicions about him at that time were actionable. But that, itself, is a more profound point than even the fully justified concern about our endlessly porous no-fly list, which came within minutes this week of – once again – letting a watch-listed individual take off on an international flight.

The point driven home by the 2004 investigation is that our established measures for identifying and tracking terrorists aren’t necessarily getting the job done. We can have suspicions about subjects, investigate them, apply all the rules to them – and we can still fail to intervene before they launch an attack.

It seems obvious to me that we can’t profile every naturalized citizen from Pakistan who suffers from unemployment and foreclosure, as Shahzad did in the years after 2004. That would be a waste of time. Apparently, he and his family left their Connecticut home in December in such a rush that they took no household belongings and left food to spoil. That move could, in retrospect, be characterized as a precipitate flight from the U.S. to Pakistan. Perhaps it was worth investigating. But was Shahzad, himself, still under any kind of investigation or surveillance at that point? Local police departments are overworked; it’s doubtful that the one in Shelton, Connecticut, would have made the connection between one more abandoned foreclosure property and a naturalized citizen’s interesting ties to Pakistan.

Faisal Shahzad’s numerous trips to Pakistan should perhaps have been a clue, but there are a lot of South Asian Muslims traveling back and forth between the U.S. and Pakistan. We do a lot of business with Pakistan and have many Pakistani immigrants. Many of them travel frequently, and for innocent purposes.

It is fair to say that this is a serious problem: one that is not the consequence of partisan politics. It’s not clear how we overcome it. But there are two patterns we’ve seen this week that are utterly counterproductive. One is the tendency of government officials to pretend that perpetrators are as likely to be domestic “militia” activists as radical Islamists – and to group peaceful opponents of Obama’s policies incautiously with bomb-makers. This practice is much worse than mere divisive rhetoric. It portends a negligent misuse of law-enforcement assets.

The other pattern is the left-wing punditry’s readiness to attack the right for demanding better performance from our counterterrorism infrastructure. A theme is emerging that it was only 53 hours from the first report of the car-bomb to the arrest of Shahzad, and hey, calm down, law enforcement seems to have done a pretty good job. But what matters is that the bomb was, in fact, planted, and it could have gone off. If this sequence of events constitutes an acceptable standard of performance against terror plots, then I would amend Abe’s conclusion as follows: street vendors aren’t our first line of defense, they’re our last.

Daniel Foster has a good catch at The Corner: according to the New York Times profile of Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad, officials of the Joint Terrorism Task Force were investigating him as early as 2004.

That doesn’t mean, of course, that any suspicions about him at that time were actionable. But that, itself, is a more profound point than even the fully justified concern about our endlessly porous no-fly list, which came within minutes this week of – once again – letting a watch-listed individual take off on an international flight.

The point driven home by the 2004 investigation is that our established measures for identifying and tracking terrorists aren’t necessarily getting the job done. We can have suspicions about subjects, investigate them, apply all the rules to them – and we can still fail to intervene before they launch an attack.

It seems obvious to me that we can’t profile every naturalized citizen from Pakistan who suffers from unemployment and foreclosure, as Shahzad did in the years after 2004. That would be a waste of time. Apparently, he and his family left their Connecticut home in December in such a rush that they took no household belongings and left food to spoil. That move could, in retrospect, be characterized as a precipitate flight from the U.S. to Pakistan. Perhaps it was worth investigating. But was Shahzad, himself, still under any kind of investigation or surveillance at that point? Local police departments are overworked; it’s doubtful that the one in Shelton, Connecticut, would have made the connection between one more abandoned foreclosure property and a naturalized citizen’s interesting ties to Pakistan.

Faisal Shahzad’s numerous trips to Pakistan should perhaps have been a clue, but there are a lot of South Asian Muslims traveling back and forth between the U.S. and Pakistan. We do a lot of business with Pakistan and have many Pakistani immigrants. Many of them travel frequently, and for innocent purposes.

It is fair to say that this is a serious problem: one that is not the consequence of partisan politics. It’s not clear how we overcome it. But there are two patterns we’ve seen this week that are utterly counterproductive. One is the tendency of government officials to pretend that perpetrators are as likely to be domestic “militia” activists as radical Islamists – and to group peaceful opponents of Obama’s policies incautiously with bomb-makers. This practice is much worse than mere divisive rhetoric. It portends a negligent misuse of law-enforcement assets.

The other pattern is the left-wing punditry’s readiness to attack the right for demanding better performance from our counterterrorism infrastructure. A theme is emerging that it was only 53 hours from the first report of the car-bomb to the arrest of Shahzad, and hey, calm down, law enforcement seems to have done a pretty good job. But what matters is that the bomb was, in fact, planted, and it could have gone off. If this sequence of events constitutes an acceptable standard of performance against terror plots, then I would amend Abe’s conclusion as follows: street vendors aren’t our first line of defense, they’re our last.

Read Less

Still Mirandizing

Well, as I suspected would be the case, we did Mirandize the Times Square bomber. We are told he has chosen to talk, but what if he didn’t? Would we have been content to let him clam up as the Christmas Day bomber did for five weeks?  And, of course, we are preparing him to be tried in a federal courtroom. We have learned, however, that he may not be the lone wolf (and certainly not the aggrieved ObamaCare critic Mayor Bloomberg stupidly suggested he might be):

Shahzad, a recently naturalized U.S. citizen living in Connecticut., was taken off an airliner bound for the Persian Gulf sheikhdom of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates about 53 hours after the attempted bombing, authorities said.

Asked if Shahzad had implicated himself under questioning by federal agents, Holder said, “He has done that.” He said Shahzad “has provided useful information to authorities.”

Shahzad was initially questioned under a public safety exception to the Miranda rule and was cooperative, FBI Deputy Director John Pistole said at the news conference. He said Shahzad was later read his Miranda rights and “continued talking.”

Although Shahzad was arrested after the plane he had boarded returned to the departure gate, Holder said there was no risk that he would get away. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said authorities could have ordered the plane to return to the airport if it had taken off.

Concerned that he got on an airplane and wasn’t on the no-fly list? Well, Eric Holder says everything worked fine: “There was never any danger of losing him.”

Although we are treating Shahzad as an ordinary criminal, it appears he’s part of an international plot:

In Pakistan, an intelligence official said authorities arrested at least two people in the southern port city of Karachi in connection with the Times Square bombing attempt. The official, who is not authorized to speak on the record, identified one of those arrested as Tausif Ahmed, who was picked up in a busy commercial neighborhood called Gulshan-e-Iqbal.

Again, we return to the question: is the criminal-justice model really appropriate for such enemies? At some point, the American people and Congress will decide that the administration’s tactics are ludicrously ill-suited to the war we are fighting.

Well, as I suspected would be the case, we did Mirandize the Times Square bomber. We are told he has chosen to talk, but what if he didn’t? Would we have been content to let him clam up as the Christmas Day bomber did for five weeks?  And, of course, we are preparing him to be tried in a federal courtroom. We have learned, however, that he may not be the lone wolf (and certainly not the aggrieved ObamaCare critic Mayor Bloomberg stupidly suggested he might be):

Shahzad, a recently naturalized U.S. citizen living in Connecticut., was taken off an airliner bound for the Persian Gulf sheikhdom of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates about 53 hours after the attempted bombing, authorities said.

Asked if Shahzad had implicated himself under questioning by federal agents, Holder said, “He has done that.” He said Shahzad “has provided useful information to authorities.”

Shahzad was initially questioned under a public safety exception to the Miranda rule and was cooperative, FBI Deputy Director John Pistole said at the news conference. He said Shahzad was later read his Miranda rights and “continued talking.”

Although Shahzad was arrested after the plane he had boarded returned to the departure gate, Holder said there was no risk that he would get away. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said authorities could have ordered the plane to return to the airport if it had taken off.

Concerned that he got on an airplane and wasn’t on the no-fly list? Well, Eric Holder says everything worked fine: “There was never any danger of losing him.”

Although we are treating Shahzad as an ordinary criminal, it appears he’s part of an international plot:

In Pakistan, an intelligence official said authorities arrested at least two people in the southern port city of Karachi in connection with the Times Square bombing attempt. The official, who is not authorized to speak on the record, identified one of those arrested as Tausif Ahmed, who was picked up in a busy commercial neighborhood called Gulshan-e-Iqbal.

Again, we return to the question: is the criminal-justice model really appropriate for such enemies? At some point, the American people and Congress will decide that the administration’s tactics are ludicrously ill-suited to the war we are fighting.

Read Less

A Constructive Suggestion

Sen. Joe Lieberman has come up with a proposal that would certainly help clarify how we respond to incidents like the Times Square bombing attempt (subscription required):

Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Chairman Joe Lieberman (ID-Conn.) is pursuing legislation that would strip the “citizenship rights” of Americans who commit acts of terrorism. Although there are already laws allowing the government to strip the citizenship of Americans caught fighting in the army of another nation the U.S. is at war with, Lieberman’s legislation would create new authority to address individuals like Faisal Shahzad, the naturalized American accused of attempting to detonate a car bomb in Times Square on Saturday. The bill would amend the existing law “to include any individual apprehended, American citizen, who is found to be involved with a foreign terrorist organization as designated by the department of state would be deprived of their citizenship rights,” Lieberman told reporters Tuesday. Although Lieberman’s proposal would apply to foreign terrorist organizations, it would not appear to apply to domestic organizations like the Hutaree militia in Michigan.

Lieberman refuses to buy into the notion that these individuals are common criminals; they are combatants in war. It makes perfect sense to treat them identically to those who take up arms against the U.S. on behalf of another country. We’ll see if the administration has the nerve to oppose it.

Sen. Joe Lieberman has come up with a proposal that would certainly help clarify how we respond to incidents like the Times Square bombing attempt (subscription required):

Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Chairman Joe Lieberman (ID-Conn.) is pursuing legislation that would strip the “citizenship rights” of Americans who commit acts of terrorism. Although there are already laws allowing the government to strip the citizenship of Americans caught fighting in the army of another nation the U.S. is at war with, Lieberman’s legislation would create new authority to address individuals like Faisal Shahzad, the naturalized American accused of attempting to detonate a car bomb in Times Square on Saturday. The bill would amend the existing law “to include any individual apprehended, American citizen, who is found to be involved with a foreign terrorist organization as designated by the department of state would be deprived of their citizenship rights,” Lieberman told reporters Tuesday. Although Lieberman’s proposal would apply to foreign terrorist organizations, it would not appear to apply to domestic organizations like the Hutaree militia in Michigan.

Lieberman refuses to buy into the notion that these individuals are common criminals; they are combatants in war. It makes perfect sense to treat them identically to those who take up arms against the U.S. on behalf of another country. We’ll see if the administration has the nerve to oppose it.

Read Less

The Jihadist Attack on Times Square

The New York Times reports:

Federal agents and police detectives arrested a Connecticut man, a naturalized United States citizen from Pakistan, shortly before midnight Monday for driving a car bomb into Times Square on Saturday evening in what turned out to be an unsuccessful attack, Justice Department officials announced. …

Mr. Shahzad was taken into custody at Kennedy Airport as he tried to board a flight to Dubai, U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said in an early morning statement delivered at the Justice Department in Washington. Charges against Mr. Shahzad, who had returned recently from a trip to Pakistan, were not announced, but he was expected to be charged Tuesday in federal court.

So, a couple of questions: has he been Mirandized, and is he now lawyered up? I’d frankly be pleasantly shocked if that weren’t the case. And there are other questions that will follow, including whether we had any prior knowledge of Faisal Shahzad. What we do know is that the investigation has shifted to the international terrorism branch of the Joint Task Force and that “it’s a prominent lead that they’re following, the international association.”

Once again, despite the best efforts of the administration to excise “Islamic extremists” or “Islamic fundamentalists” from our vocabulary, all indications are that this is one more attack in a war Obama refuses to label accurately.

The New York Times reports:

Federal agents and police detectives arrested a Connecticut man, a naturalized United States citizen from Pakistan, shortly before midnight Monday for driving a car bomb into Times Square on Saturday evening in what turned out to be an unsuccessful attack, Justice Department officials announced. …

Mr. Shahzad was taken into custody at Kennedy Airport as he tried to board a flight to Dubai, U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said in an early morning statement delivered at the Justice Department in Washington. Charges against Mr. Shahzad, who had returned recently from a trip to Pakistan, were not announced, but he was expected to be charged Tuesday in federal court.

So, a couple of questions: has he been Mirandized, and is he now lawyered up? I’d frankly be pleasantly shocked if that weren’t the case. And there are other questions that will follow, including whether we had any prior knowledge of Faisal Shahzad. What we do know is that the investigation has shifted to the international terrorism branch of the Joint Task Force and that “it’s a prominent lead that they’re following, the international association.”

Once again, despite the best efforts of the administration to excise “Islamic extremists” or “Islamic fundamentalists” from our vocabulary, all indications are that this is one more attack in a war Obama refuses to label accurately.

Read Less

The League of Totalitarians

As a coda to my earlier post on the flocking together of the far left and the far right under the banner of the Palestinian Telegraph, you should read Nick Cohen’s superb piece in Standpoint magazine, which explores in painful detail the unwillingness of the BBC to tell the truth about recently deceased actor Corin Redgrave. The BBC memorialized him as a fighter against “all forms of injustice and oppression.”

Redgrave was actually a devotee of the Workers Revolutionary Party, a Trotskyist cult led by Gerry Healy, who reveled in what 26 of his female followers described as “cruel and systematic debauchery.”  Naturally, Healy, as a born totalitarian, took money from Qaddafi and Saddam Hussein, spied on Iraqi dissidents, and adopted the anti-Semitism of the far right as his own.  Redgrave — like another devotee, the former mayor of London, Ken Livingstone — stuck by Healy through it all.

The dangers and stupidities of this far-left/far-right alliance, centered on anti-Semitism and admiration for foreign tyrannies of all varieties, are what Oliver Kamm, among others, has been banging on about brilliantly for years. It is, of course, sinister enough on its own demerits. But it also has an amazing capacity to fool people, including quite a few who should know better.

For example, the day the Iraq war began, I was speaking at a private and very elite prep school in Connecticut. I was amazed to find the hallways festooned with signs from the ANSWER coalition. When I pointed out to my host that ANSWER was an outgrowth of the Workers World Party, the hardest of hard-line Communists who defended the Soviet invasion of Hungary in 1956 and today support North Korea, she was astonished. The word “peace” was all the proof she needed that it was on the side of human rights. The BBC’s memorial to Redgrave is the kind of journalism that makes that confidence trick work.

As a coda to my earlier post on the flocking together of the far left and the far right under the banner of the Palestinian Telegraph, you should read Nick Cohen’s superb piece in Standpoint magazine, which explores in painful detail the unwillingness of the BBC to tell the truth about recently deceased actor Corin Redgrave. The BBC memorialized him as a fighter against “all forms of injustice and oppression.”

Redgrave was actually a devotee of the Workers Revolutionary Party, a Trotskyist cult led by Gerry Healy, who reveled in what 26 of his female followers described as “cruel and systematic debauchery.”  Naturally, Healy, as a born totalitarian, took money from Qaddafi and Saddam Hussein, spied on Iraqi dissidents, and adopted the anti-Semitism of the far right as his own.  Redgrave — like another devotee, the former mayor of London, Ken Livingstone — stuck by Healy through it all.

The dangers and stupidities of this far-left/far-right alliance, centered on anti-Semitism and admiration for foreign tyrannies of all varieties, are what Oliver Kamm, among others, has been banging on about brilliantly for years. It is, of course, sinister enough on its own demerits. But it also has an amazing capacity to fool people, including quite a few who should know better.

For example, the day the Iraq war began, I was speaking at a private and very elite prep school in Connecticut. I was amazed to find the hallways festooned with signs from the ANSWER coalition. When I pointed out to my host that ANSWER was an outgrowth of the Workers World Party, the hardest of hard-line Communists who defended the Soviet invasion of Hungary in 1956 and today support North Korea, she was astonished. The word “peace” was all the proof she needed that it was on the side of human rights. The BBC’s memorial to Redgrave is the kind of journalism that makes that confidence trick work.

Read Less

Flotsam and Jetsam

Patty Murray may be in trouble, especially if Dino Rossi gets into the Washington senate race.

At least one pro-Israel group is going after the Obami: “Activists for the Zionist Organization of America lobbied Congress to consider military action against Iran. In more than 100 meetings with members of Congress on Wednesday, the ZOA said hundreds of its activists also asked the lawmakers to defund the Palestinian Authority, press the U.S. embassy issue and enshrine anti-Jewish discrimination safeguards in education legislation.”

Read all of P.J. O’Rourke’s latest. A sample: “The secret to the Obama annoyance is snotty lecturing. His tone of voice sends us back to the worst place in college. . . . America has made the mistake of letting the A student run things. It was A students who briefly took over the business world during the period of derivatives, credit swaps, and collateralized debt obligations. We’re still reeling from the effects. This is why good businessmen have always adhered to the maxim: ‘A students work for B students.’”

No surprise from Mahmoud Abbas: “Mr. President (Barack Obama) and members of the American administration, since you believe in this (an independent Palestinian state), it is your duty to take steps toward a solution and to impose this solution.” After all, Abbas has no incentive to do anything else.

Douglas Schoen keeps trying to save Democrats from themselves. Forget cap-and-trade and immigration reform, he says: “Instead, what the Democrats should be doing is taking up the issue of jobs, then jobs and then jobs once again. With the unemployment rate still hovering perilously close to 10 percent, the only way congressional Democrats and the administration can improve their eroding political position is by taking on the jobs issue systematically — not sporadically and spasmodically. Every approach should be put on the table: tax incentives for job creation, a payroll tax holiday and even infrastructure investment — if only to demonstrate the party’s commitment to doing everything possible to stimulate employment.”

Works for me: “Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said Saturday that he will be ‘unable to move forward’ with the upcoming climate and energy bill he’s crafting if Democratic leaders push ahead with plans to move immigration legislation. Graham’s declaration could halt or unravel the months-long effort to craft a compromise climate measure he has undertaken with Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.). The measure is slated to be unveiled Monday.”

Dana Milbank is whining about Republican “leaders,” claiming that Charlie Crist is being drummed out of the party. Nonsense. Voters don’t like him and he’s losing. He’s threatening to bolt to keep his pathetic senate race alive. (By the way, you’ll recall Joe Lieberman never got a single mainstream column pleading for the Democrats’ sanity when he ran as an independent.)

Alan Dershowitz pushes J Street: “Do you believe that if America fails to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons, and if the Israeli government makes a considered decision that it must use military action, as a last resort, to prevent Iran from being able to deploy nuclear weapons, that Israel would have the right to engage in preventive self defense by attacking Iran’s nuclear facilities? I am not asking whether Israel should or should not consider such attack, since I lack the military expertise to make that decision, as do you. I am asking whether Israel should have the right to make that decision. And I’m asking whether you believe the United States should seek to prevent Israel from acting on that decision as an absolute last resort?” More important, what does Obama think?

Patty Murray may be in trouble, especially if Dino Rossi gets into the Washington senate race.

At least one pro-Israel group is going after the Obami: “Activists for the Zionist Organization of America lobbied Congress to consider military action against Iran. In more than 100 meetings with members of Congress on Wednesday, the ZOA said hundreds of its activists also asked the lawmakers to defund the Palestinian Authority, press the U.S. embassy issue and enshrine anti-Jewish discrimination safeguards in education legislation.”

Read all of P.J. O’Rourke’s latest. A sample: “The secret to the Obama annoyance is snotty lecturing. His tone of voice sends us back to the worst place in college. . . . America has made the mistake of letting the A student run things. It was A students who briefly took over the business world during the period of derivatives, credit swaps, and collateralized debt obligations. We’re still reeling from the effects. This is why good businessmen have always adhered to the maxim: ‘A students work for B students.’”

No surprise from Mahmoud Abbas: “Mr. President (Barack Obama) and members of the American administration, since you believe in this (an independent Palestinian state), it is your duty to take steps toward a solution and to impose this solution.” After all, Abbas has no incentive to do anything else.

Douglas Schoen keeps trying to save Democrats from themselves. Forget cap-and-trade and immigration reform, he says: “Instead, what the Democrats should be doing is taking up the issue of jobs, then jobs and then jobs once again. With the unemployment rate still hovering perilously close to 10 percent, the only way congressional Democrats and the administration can improve their eroding political position is by taking on the jobs issue systematically — not sporadically and spasmodically. Every approach should be put on the table: tax incentives for job creation, a payroll tax holiday and even infrastructure investment — if only to demonstrate the party’s commitment to doing everything possible to stimulate employment.”

Works for me: “Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said Saturday that he will be ‘unable to move forward’ with the upcoming climate and energy bill he’s crafting if Democratic leaders push ahead with plans to move immigration legislation. Graham’s declaration could halt or unravel the months-long effort to craft a compromise climate measure he has undertaken with Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.). The measure is slated to be unveiled Monday.”

Dana Milbank is whining about Republican “leaders,” claiming that Charlie Crist is being drummed out of the party. Nonsense. Voters don’t like him and he’s losing. He’s threatening to bolt to keep his pathetic senate race alive. (By the way, you’ll recall Joe Lieberman never got a single mainstream column pleading for the Democrats’ sanity when he ran as an independent.)

Alan Dershowitz pushes J Street: “Do you believe that if America fails to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons, and if the Israeli government makes a considered decision that it must use military action, as a last resort, to prevent Iran from being able to deploy nuclear weapons, that Israel would have the right to engage in preventive self defense by attacking Iran’s nuclear facilities? I am not asking whether Israel should or should not consider such attack, since I lack the military expertise to make that decision, as do you. I am asking whether Israel should have the right to make that decision. And I’m asking whether you believe the United States should seek to prevent Israel from acting on that decision as an absolute last resort?” More important, what does Obama think?

Read Less

Flotsam and Jetsam

Mind-boggling: Admiral Mike Mullen proclaims, “Iran getting a nuclear weapon would be incredibly destabilizing. Attacking them would also create the same kind of outcome. …In an area that’s so unstable right now, we just don’t need more of that.” The only difference is that one way there’s a nuclear-armed revolutionary Islamic state.

Priceless: “Goldman Sachs is launching an aggressive response to its political and legal challenges with an unlikely ally at its side — President Barack Obama’s former White House counsel, Gregory Craig.”

Suspicious: “The Securities and Exchange Commission fraud case against Goldman Sachs may be settled before it ever sees a courtroom. Yet intentionally or not, the SEC has already secured at least one victory in the court of media opinion. Last Friday, the same day that the government unexpectedly announced its Goldman lawsuit, the SEC’s inspector general released his exhaustive, 151-page report on the agency’s failure to investigate alleged fraudster R. Allen Stanford. Mr. Stanford was indicted last June for operating a Ponzi scheme that bilked investors out of $8 billion. … But the SEC is very good at nailing politically correct targets like Goldman years after the fact on charges that have little or nothing to do with the investing public. On the Goldman case, by the way, the news broke yesterday that the SEC commissioners split 3-2 on whether to bring the lawsuit — a rare partisan split on such a prominent case and further evidence of its thin legal basis.” And just in the nick of time to help the PR on the financial regulations bill!

Definitive (confirmation that the Dems are in a heap of trouble): “Republican candidates now hold a 10-point lead over Democrats in the latest edition of the Generic Congressional Ballot, tying the GOP’s high for the year recorded the second week in March and their biggest lead in nearly three years of weekly tracking.”

Frightening but not surprising: “It may be too late to stop Iran developing a nuclear weapon, a former senior US defence official has warned. The official, who has long experience with several US administrations, said President Obama had waited too long to take tough action against Tehran. ‘Fifteen months into his administration, Iran has faced no significant consequences for continuing with its uranium-enrichment programme, despite two deadlines set by Obama, which came and went without anything happening,’ the former official, who was speaking on condition of anonymity, told The Times. ‘Now it may be too late to stop Iran from becoming nuclear-capable.’”

Gutsy: “After being stonewalled by the Obama administration for five months, Senators Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., and Susan Collins, R-Me, issued subpoenas Monday to Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Attorney General Eric Holder for a list of witnesses and documents regarding the Nov. 5, 2009 Fort Hood massacre.”

Irrelevant: “Mitt Romney continues to look like the early front-runner for the GOP presidential nomination in 2012. A Public Policy Polling (D) survey shows Romney leading former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee in every region except the South, where Huckabee uses his home-field advantage to lead the field.” Ask Rudy Giuliani what early polls mean.

Depressing: “Both left and right [in Israel] are troubled, and both largely about the same things, especially the Iranian nuclear program combined with growing tensions with the Obama administration. ‘There is a confluence of two very worrying events,’ said Michael Freund, a rightist columnist for The Jerusalem Post in a telephone interview. ‘One is the Iranian threat, an existential threat. Add to that the fact that for the first time in recent memory there is a president in the White House who is not overly sensitive to the Jewish state and its interests. You put the two together and it will affect anyone’s mood, even an optimist like me.” Overly? Not at all.

Mind-boggling: Admiral Mike Mullen proclaims, “Iran getting a nuclear weapon would be incredibly destabilizing. Attacking them would also create the same kind of outcome. …In an area that’s so unstable right now, we just don’t need more of that.” The only difference is that one way there’s a nuclear-armed revolutionary Islamic state.

Priceless: “Goldman Sachs is launching an aggressive response to its political and legal challenges with an unlikely ally at its side — President Barack Obama’s former White House counsel, Gregory Craig.”

Suspicious: “The Securities and Exchange Commission fraud case against Goldman Sachs may be settled before it ever sees a courtroom. Yet intentionally or not, the SEC has already secured at least one victory in the court of media opinion. Last Friday, the same day that the government unexpectedly announced its Goldman lawsuit, the SEC’s inspector general released his exhaustive, 151-page report on the agency’s failure to investigate alleged fraudster R. Allen Stanford. Mr. Stanford was indicted last June for operating a Ponzi scheme that bilked investors out of $8 billion. … But the SEC is very good at nailing politically correct targets like Goldman years after the fact on charges that have little or nothing to do with the investing public. On the Goldman case, by the way, the news broke yesterday that the SEC commissioners split 3-2 on whether to bring the lawsuit — a rare partisan split on such a prominent case and further evidence of its thin legal basis.” And just in the nick of time to help the PR on the financial regulations bill!

Definitive (confirmation that the Dems are in a heap of trouble): “Republican candidates now hold a 10-point lead over Democrats in the latest edition of the Generic Congressional Ballot, tying the GOP’s high for the year recorded the second week in March and their biggest lead in nearly three years of weekly tracking.”

Frightening but not surprising: “It may be too late to stop Iran developing a nuclear weapon, a former senior US defence official has warned. The official, who has long experience with several US administrations, said President Obama had waited too long to take tough action against Tehran. ‘Fifteen months into his administration, Iran has faced no significant consequences for continuing with its uranium-enrichment programme, despite two deadlines set by Obama, which came and went without anything happening,’ the former official, who was speaking on condition of anonymity, told The Times. ‘Now it may be too late to stop Iran from becoming nuclear-capable.’”

Gutsy: “After being stonewalled by the Obama administration for five months, Senators Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., and Susan Collins, R-Me, issued subpoenas Monday to Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Attorney General Eric Holder for a list of witnesses and documents regarding the Nov. 5, 2009 Fort Hood massacre.”

Irrelevant: “Mitt Romney continues to look like the early front-runner for the GOP presidential nomination in 2012. A Public Policy Polling (D) survey shows Romney leading former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee in every region except the South, where Huckabee uses his home-field advantage to lead the field.” Ask Rudy Giuliani what early polls mean.

Depressing: “Both left and right [in Israel] are troubled, and both largely about the same things, especially the Iranian nuclear program combined with growing tensions with the Obama administration. ‘There is a confluence of two very worrying events,’ said Michael Freund, a rightist columnist for The Jerusalem Post in a telephone interview. ‘One is the Iranian threat, an existential threat. Add to that the fact that for the first time in recent memory there is a president in the White House who is not overly sensitive to the Jewish state and its interests. You put the two together and it will affect anyone’s mood, even an optimist like me.” Overly? Not at all.

Read Less

Is the Connecticut Senate Front-runner “Martha Coakley in Pants”?

If there were any Senate seat up for election this fall that was considered completely safe for the Democrats, it appeared to be the one that Chris Dodd is vacating in Connecticut. While the scandal-plagued Dodd looked vulnerable to any Republican challenger, once he promised not to run and Richard Blumenthal, the Nutmeg State’s popular attorney general, threw his hat into the ring, there seemed no doubt the Democrats would hold on to the seat.

Little attention has been paid to this race since Dodd’s withdrawal. But, according to the New York Times, perhaps Blumenthal isn’t quite as much of a shoo-in as expected. He still has a double-digit lead in all the polls but, as the surprisingly unsympathetic feature in the Times shows, the Democratic front-runner isn’t doing as well as expected. According to the article, Blumenthal “flopped” in a debate against an obscure primary rival and has now categorically ruled out any other such confrontations. As the Times tells it:

He appears almost incapable of offering concise answers to even the most predictable questions, like why he is running for the Senate. And his reliance on prosecutorial parlance and legal arcana has raised unflattering comparisons to another attorney general in a Senate race who seemed a sure winner only to lose in spectacular fashion. Some Democrats are calling him “Martha Coakley in pants,” referring to the candidate who lost the Massachusetts Senate election in January.

The Times puts most of the problems down to the 64-year-old candidate’s inexperience in dealing with competitive politics. Though he has won five consecutive statewide elections for his current office, the last time he faced serious opposition was in 1990. Though always rumored to be interested in various other offices (as one Democratic bigwig told me in the mid-1990s when I was working as a journalist in the state, “There’s nothing that guy doesn’t want to be”), Blumenthal always found a reason not to run. What quickly emerged was that while he longed to be a senator or a governor, he wasn’t willing to fight for it. It was only when Dodd ended his re-election bid earlier this year that Blumenthal figured he could safely glide into a higher-ranking job without getting his neatly combed hair mussed up. But as the Times piece shows, it isn’t proving to be as easy as he thought.

Along with describing this former athlete’s physique in terms that are hardly flattering — “at 5-foot-11 and a gaunt 155 pounds, [Blumenthal] wears his dark suits like a wire hanger” — the story detailed the would-be senator’s awkward “Rip Van Winkle” campaign as he hemmed and hawed his way through a litany of bland and confused responses to questions about his positions. Moreover, his 20 years as attorney general, in which he often aped the Elliot Spitzer pattern of attacking private businesses, may also now come back to haunt him as his former victims surface with tales of misleading and false prosecutions.

The point is, the former wunderkind of Connecticut politics — he was appointed a U.S. attorney at age 31 — may no longer be ready for prime time. Given the overwhelming advantage the Democrats have in registration in the state and Blumenthal’s personal popularity, it’s hard to believe that the seat is really in play. Yet with a spirited and well-funded Republican challenge certain to come from professional-wrestling mogul Linda McMahon, the state may find out whether, as Gov. Jodi Rell said in 2006, Blumenthal is a candidate with a “glass jaw.” McMahon may be no Scott Brown, but so far, Blumenthal is giving every indication that the comparisons with his Massachusetts counterpart Coakley are completely not off base. If 2010 turns out to be a “wave” election in which even the safest Democrats are swept out in an anti-Obama landslide, Blumenthal may be in for a far tougher ride than he ever imagined.

If there were any Senate seat up for election this fall that was considered completely safe for the Democrats, it appeared to be the one that Chris Dodd is vacating in Connecticut. While the scandal-plagued Dodd looked vulnerable to any Republican challenger, once he promised not to run and Richard Blumenthal, the Nutmeg State’s popular attorney general, threw his hat into the ring, there seemed no doubt the Democrats would hold on to the seat.

Little attention has been paid to this race since Dodd’s withdrawal. But, according to the New York Times, perhaps Blumenthal isn’t quite as much of a shoo-in as expected. He still has a double-digit lead in all the polls but, as the surprisingly unsympathetic feature in the Times shows, the Democratic front-runner isn’t doing as well as expected. According to the article, Blumenthal “flopped” in a debate against an obscure primary rival and has now categorically ruled out any other such confrontations. As the Times tells it:

He appears almost incapable of offering concise answers to even the most predictable questions, like why he is running for the Senate. And his reliance on prosecutorial parlance and legal arcana has raised unflattering comparisons to another attorney general in a Senate race who seemed a sure winner only to lose in spectacular fashion. Some Democrats are calling him “Martha Coakley in pants,” referring to the candidate who lost the Massachusetts Senate election in January.

The Times puts most of the problems down to the 64-year-old candidate’s inexperience in dealing with competitive politics. Though he has won five consecutive statewide elections for his current office, the last time he faced serious opposition was in 1990. Though always rumored to be interested in various other offices (as one Democratic bigwig told me in the mid-1990s when I was working as a journalist in the state, “There’s nothing that guy doesn’t want to be”), Blumenthal always found a reason not to run. What quickly emerged was that while he longed to be a senator or a governor, he wasn’t willing to fight for it. It was only when Dodd ended his re-election bid earlier this year that Blumenthal figured he could safely glide into a higher-ranking job without getting his neatly combed hair mussed up. But as the Times piece shows, it isn’t proving to be as easy as he thought.

Along with describing this former athlete’s physique in terms that are hardly flattering — “at 5-foot-11 and a gaunt 155 pounds, [Blumenthal] wears his dark suits like a wire hanger” — the story detailed the would-be senator’s awkward “Rip Van Winkle” campaign as he hemmed and hawed his way through a litany of bland and confused responses to questions about his positions. Moreover, his 20 years as attorney general, in which he often aped the Elliot Spitzer pattern of attacking private businesses, may also now come back to haunt him as his former victims surface with tales of misleading and false prosecutions.

The point is, the former wunderkind of Connecticut politics — he was appointed a U.S. attorney at age 31 — may no longer be ready for prime time. Given the overwhelming advantage the Democrats have in registration in the state and Blumenthal’s personal popularity, it’s hard to believe that the seat is really in play. Yet with a spirited and well-funded Republican challenge certain to come from professional-wrestling mogul Linda McMahon, the state may find out whether, as Gov. Jodi Rell said in 2006, Blumenthal is a candidate with a “glass jaw.” McMahon may be no Scott Brown, but so far, Blumenthal is giving every indication that the comparisons with his Massachusetts counterpart Coakley are completely not off base. If 2010 turns out to be a “wave” election in which even the safest Democrats are swept out in an anti-Obama landslide, Blumenthal may be in for a far tougher ride than he ever imagined.

Read Less

The Most Transparent Administ . . . Oh, Never Mind

The Hill reports:

Homeland Security Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) on Thursday threatened the Obama administration with subpoenas if it doesn’t release information on the Fort Hood shootings sought by the committee by next Monday (April 19).

Lieberman said he and ranking Republican Sen. Susan Collins (Maine) “do not reach this decision lightly,” but felt forced after five months of “foot-dragging, very little assistance and changing reasons” for withholding information on the shootings.

The rest of the report delves into Lieberman’s disputes with fellow Democrats. But what’s the possible rationale for denying the committee the information? This is, of course, par for the course for the Obami. The names of Justice Department lawyers who represented terrorists? Not disclosing. Information on the dismissed New Black Panther voter intimidation case? Not giving it up. It is only because Congress is controlled by the Democrats that the administration has been able to stonewall even minimal efforts at oversight. That may change after the November elections, if Republicans take back one or both houses of Congress. But in the meantime, Lieberman remains the exceptional chairman — one who actually demands some accountability by the Obama administration, which seems to regard inquiries – by opponents, the Congress, or the media – as annoyances to be swatted away.

The Hill reports:

Homeland Security Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) on Thursday threatened the Obama administration with subpoenas if it doesn’t release information on the Fort Hood shootings sought by the committee by next Monday (April 19).

Lieberman said he and ranking Republican Sen. Susan Collins (Maine) “do not reach this decision lightly,” but felt forced after five months of “foot-dragging, very little assistance and changing reasons” for withholding information on the shootings.

The rest of the report delves into Lieberman’s disputes with fellow Democrats. But what’s the possible rationale for denying the committee the information? This is, of course, par for the course for the Obami. The names of Justice Department lawyers who represented terrorists? Not disclosing. Information on the dismissed New Black Panther voter intimidation case? Not giving it up. It is only because Congress is controlled by the Democrats that the administration has been able to stonewall even minimal efforts at oversight. That may change after the November elections, if Republicans take back one or both houses of Congress. But in the meantime, Lieberman remains the exceptional chairman — one who actually demands some accountability by the Obama administration, which seems to regard inquiries – by opponents, the Congress, or the media – as annoyances to be swatted away.

Read Less

A Dose of Reality

As he so often does, Sen. Joe Lieberman introduces a dose of reality into the national-security debate: the START treaty isn’t going to be ratified in its current form:

“I don’t believe that there will be 67 votes to ratify the START treaty unless the administration does two things,” Lieberman said on “Fox News Sunday.” “First, commit to modernize our nuclear stockpile so as we have less nuclear weapons we know they’re capable, if, God forbid, we need them; and secondly, to make absolutely clear that some of the statements by Russian President Medvedev at the signing in Prague that seem to suggest that if we continue to build the ballistic missile defense in Europe that they may pull out of this treaty — they’re just unacceptable to us. “We need that defense to protect our allies and ourselves from Iran,” Lieberman said.

The problem, of course, is that Medvedev has support for his statements in the text of the treaty. What Lieberman requires — a repudiation of linkage — would require amending the just-signed treaty. Once again one is left to ponder the Obami’s “strategy” — if there is one. Did they imagine no one would notice the linkage to missile defense? Did they think that in an election year they’d get this ratified — or that with reduced Democratic numbers in the Senate it would get through next year? Perhaps all Obama wanted was a signing ceremony, something to justify his “reset” policy and his previous betrayal of Eastern European allies. It is hard to imagine that the Russians will be pleased and our relationship enhanced once we break the news to them that their shiny new treaty is dead on arrival.

Lieberman also blasted the administration for its Orwellian language in addressing the threat of Islamic fundamentalism:

Sen. Joe Lieberman slammed the Obama administration Sunday for stripping terms like “Islamic extremism” from a key national security document, calling the move dishonest, wrong-headed and disrespectful to the majority of Muslims who are not terrorists.

The Connecticut independent revealed that he wrote a letter Friday to top counterterrorism adviser John Brennan urging the administration to “identify accurately the ideological source” of the threat against the United States. He wrote that failing to identify “violent Islamist extremism” as the enemy is “offensive.”

The letter was written following reports that the administration was removing religious references from the U.S. National Security Strategy — the document that had described the “ideological conflict” of the early 21st century as “the struggle against militant Islamic radicalism.”

Lieberman told “Fox News Sunday” this isn’t the first time the Obama administration has tried to tiptoe around referring to Islam in its security documents and that it’s time to “blow the whistle” on the trend.

“This is not honest and, frankly, I think it’s hurtful in our relations with the Muslim world,” Lieberman said. “We’re not in a war against Islam. It’s a group of Islamist extremists who have taken the Muslim religion and made it into a political ideology, and I think if we’re not clear about that, we disrespect the overwhelming majority of Muslims who are not extremists.”

This is the Obama national security approach: paper agreements which can’t be ratified and an enemy that can’t be named. Meanwhile the mullahs proceed to build their nuclear weapons.

As he so often does, Sen. Joe Lieberman introduces a dose of reality into the national-security debate: the START treaty isn’t going to be ratified in its current form:

“I don’t believe that there will be 67 votes to ratify the START treaty unless the administration does two things,” Lieberman said on “Fox News Sunday.” “First, commit to modernize our nuclear stockpile so as we have less nuclear weapons we know they’re capable, if, God forbid, we need them; and secondly, to make absolutely clear that some of the statements by Russian President Medvedev at the signing in Prague that seem to suggest that if we continue to build the ballistic missile defense in Europe that they may pull out of this treaty — they’re just unacceptable to us. “We need that defense to protect our allies and ourselves from Iran,” Lieberman said.

The problem, of course, is that Medvedev has support for his statements in the text of the treaty. What Lieberman requires — a repudiation of linkage — would require amending the just-signed treaty. Once again one is left to ponder the Obami’s “strategy” — if there is one. Did they imagine no one would notice the linkage to missile defense? Did they think that in an election year they’d get this ratified — or that with reduced Democratic numbers in the Senate it would get through next year? Perhaps all Obama wanted was a signing ceremony, something to justify his “reset” policy and his previous betrayal of Eastern European allies. It is hard to imagine that the Russians will be pleased and our relationship enhanced once we break the news to them that their shiny new treaty is dead on arrival.

Lieberman also blasted the administration for its Orwellian language in addressing the threat of Islamic fundamentalism:

Sen. Joe Lieberman slammed the Obama administration Sunday for stripping terms like “Islamic extremism” from a key national security document, calling the move dishonest, wrong-headed and disrespectful to the majority of Muslims who are not terrorists.

The Connecticut independent revealed that he wrote a letter Friday to top counterterrorism adviser John Brennan urging the administration to “identify accurately the ideological source” of the threat against the United States. He wrote that failing to identify “violent Islamist extremism” as the enemy is “offensive.”

The letter was written following reports that the administration was removing religious references from the U.S. National Security Strategy — the document that had described the “ideological conflict” of the early 21st century as “the struggle against militant Islamic radicalism.”

Lieberman told “Fox News Sunday” this isn’t the first time the Obama administration has tried to tiptoe around referring to Islam in its security documents and that it’s time to “blow the whistle” on the trend.

“This is not honest and, frankly, I think it’s hurtful in our relations with the Muslim world,” Lieberman said. “We’re not in a war against Islam. It’s a group of Islamist extremists who have taken the Muslim religion and made it into a political ideology, and I think if we’re not clear about that, we disrespect the overwhelming majority of Muslims who are not extremists.”

This is the Obama national security approach: paper agreements which can’t be ratified and an enemy that can’t be named. Meanwhile the mullahs proceed to build their nuclear weapons.

Read Less

Flotsam and Jetsam

Michael Barone explains young Americans’ economic outlook in the Obama era: “The programs of the Obama administration and the Democratic congressional leadership will increase government’s share of the economy and will tend to choke off private sector economic growth. We’ve already lost 8 million private sector jobs but no public sector jobs. We’ll probably create more public sector jobs. … But a nation with an ever larger public sector and an inhibited-growth private sector is a nation with fewer openings for people who want work that will benefit others. Fewer opportunities for young people who want to choose their future, just as they choose their iPod playlists and Facebook friends. Fewer opportunities for people to choose their future.”

Bill Kristol explains the economic-growth outlook in the Obama era: “Can you have a serious recovery when your — when taxes are being raised quite a lot, interest rates are going up, and the regulatory burden’s getting heavier? Those are just facts. I mean, taxes are going up. Interest rates are going up, intermediate and long-term rates, and they’re going to keep on going up because of the deficit. And the regulatory burden is getting heavier. That — I don’t know what economic theory tells you get good growth with those things going on.”

The farce of nuclear disarmament in the Obama era: “Iran said on Sunday it will host a nuclear disarmament conference this month to be attended by China, which has been resisting new sanctions against Tehran over its atomic ambitions. ‘This is an international conference and Iran, which advocates nuclear disarmament, is calling on all nations to disarm,’ Tehran’s chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili told the official IRNA news agency.”

Syria-Israel relations in the Obama era (which look an awful lot like they always have): “A report submitted a few weeks ago to French President Nicolas Sarkozy by two of his top diplomats concludes that there is no chance to renew substantial negotiations between Israel and Syria in the near future, Haaretz has learned. The officials had visited the Middle East recently to investigate the possibility of French mediation between the two countries.” Agreeing to return our ambassador to Damascus apparently accomplished nothing.

Non-leadership on human rights in the Obama era: “Other nations should make clear that Burma would indeed be welcomed back — but only if it frees all political prisoners and ceases its war crimes against national minorities. … Together, these nations could exert real influence. They could tighten financial sanctions to really pinch top leaders and the entities they control; they could push the machinery of the United Nations to investigate the regime’s crimes, such as forced labor and mass rape. Now would be a good moment, in other words, to unite and use the leverage that is lying unused on the table.”

Another competitive Blue State in the Obama era: “As soon as former Maryland governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. announced that he was running for governor, the race was seen by national Republicans as another possible high-profile pickup, a view almost immediately shared by political prognosticators. The nonpartisan Cook Political Report adjusted its rating of the race Thursday from solidly Democratic to one short of ‘Toss Up’ — saying Ehrlich is expected to run a ‘competitive’ contest against Gov. Martin O’Malley (D).”

Another prominent Blue State Democratic governor is in trouble in the Obama era: “Few politicians are as close to Obama as the Massachusetts Democratic governor, or have deeper ties to the president and his core team of advisers. And almost no one faces a tougher re-election battle this year than [Deval] Patrick, whose disapproval ratings would be considered near-terminal if not for the three-way race that he currently finds himself in.”

Not-at-all-smart diplomacy in the Obama era: “Barack Obama is in danger of reversing all the progress his predecessors, including George W. Bush, made in forging closer U.S. ties with India. Preoccupied with China and the Middle East, the Obama administration has allotted little room on its schedule for India, and failed to get much done in the short time it did make. Hosting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at the November state visit, the administration managed to produce cordial photo ops, but the agreements reached on education, energy cooperation, and the like dealt with trivia.”

The voice of sanity in the Obama era: “The head of the Senate Homeland Security Committee said Sunday that several domestic threats against the government are “real” but not as great as dangers posed by foreign terrorists. Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) emphasized that the government is taking seriously the arrest of militia members and threats to lawmakers and governors but cautioned that people should not ‘overstate’ them.”

Michael Barone explains young Americans’ economic outlook in the Obama era: “The programs of the Obama administration and the Democratic congressional leadership will increase government’s share of the economy and will tend to choke off private sector economic growth. We’ve already lost 8 million private sector jobs but no public sector jobs. We’ll probably create more public sector jobs. … But a nation with an ever larger public sector and an inhibited-growth private sector is a nation with fewer openings for people who want work that will benefit others. Fewer opportunities for young people who want to choose their future, just as they choose their iPod playlists and Facebook friends. Fewer opportunities for people to choose their future.”

Bill Kristol explains the economic-growth outlook in the Obama era: “Can you have a serious recovery when your — when taxes are being raised quite a lot, interest rates are going up, and the regulatory burden’s getting heavier? Those are just facts. I mean, taxes are going up. Interest rates are going up, intermediate and long-term rates, and they’re going to keep on going up because of the deficit. And the regulatory burden is getting heavier. That — I don’t know what economic theory tells you get good growth with those things going on.”

The farce of nuclear disarmament in the Obama era: “Iran said on Sunday it will host a nuclear disarmament conference this month to be attended by China, which has been resisting new sanctions against Tehran over its atomic ambitions. ‘This is an international conference and Iran, which advocates nuclear disarmament, is calling on all nations to disarm,’ Tehran’s chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili told the official IRNA news agency.”

Syria-Israel relations in the Obama era (which look an awful lot like they always have): “A report submitted a few weeks ago to French President Nicolas Sarkozy by two of his top diplomats concludes that there is no chance to renew substantial negotiations between Israel and Syria in the near future, Haaretz has learned. The officials had visited the Middle East recently to investigate the possibility of French mediation between the two countries.” Agreeing to return our ambassador to Damascus apparently accomplished nothing.

Non-leadership on human rights in the Obama era: “Other nations should make clear that Burma would indeed be welcomed back — but only if it frees all political prisoners and ceases its war crimes against national minorities. … Together, these nations could exert real influence. They could tighten financial sanctions to really pinch top leaders and the entities they control; they could push the machinery of the United Nations to investigate the regime’s crimes, such as forced labor and mass rape. Now would be a good moment, in other words, to unite and use the leverage that is lying unused on the table.”

Another competitive Blue State in the Obama era: “As soon as former Maryland governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. announced that he was running for governor, the race was seen by national Republicans as another possible high-profile pickup, a view almost immediately shared by political prognosticators. The nonpartisan Cook Political Report adjusted its rating of the race Thursday from solidly Democratic to one short of ‘Toss Up’ — saying Ehrlich is expected to run a ‘competitive’ contest against Gov. Martin O’Malley (D).”

Another prominent Blue State Democratic governor is in trouble in the Obama era: “Few politicians are as close to Obama as the Massachusetts Democratic governor, or have deeper ties to the president and his core team of advisers. And almost no one faces a tougher re-election battle this year than [Deval] Patrick, whose disapproval ratings would be considered near-terminal if not for the three-way race that he currently finds himself in.”

Not-at-all-smart diplomacy in the Obama era: “Barack Obama is in danger of reversing all the progress his predecessors, including George W. Bush, made in forging closer U.S. ties with India. Preoccupied with China and the Middle East, the Obama administration has allotted little room on its schedule for India, and failed to get much done in the short time it did make. Hosting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at the November state visit, the administration managed to produce cordial photo ops, but the agreements reached on education, energy cooperation, and the like dealt with trivia.”

The voice of sanity in the Obama era: “The head of the Senate Homeland Security Committee said Sunday that several domestic threats against the government are “real” but not as great as dangers posed by foreign terrorists. Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) emphasized that the government is taking seriously the arrest of militia members and threats to lawmakers and governors but cautioned that people should not ‘overstate’ them.”

Read Less

The End Game

Politico reports:

The advice went out to freshman and sophomore House Democrats, blunt talk to help them through a tricky vote on health reform.”At this point, we have to just rip the band-aid off and have a vote — up or down; yes or no?” the memo said. “Things like reconciliation and what the rules committee does is INSIDE BASEBALL.”

Got that? Time to take your lumps and walk the plank! The Democratic leadership most certainly would prefer that the House members not think about reconciliation, for that would remind them how deeply suspicious is the electorate about the process and the substance of ObamaCare. And, of course, the Pelosi-Reid-Obama troika doesn’t want the troops thinking too hard about this week’s parliamentarian’s ruling that made crystal clear what is required here: the House will need to pass the Senate bill, and it will become law before anything is fixed (or not). That means that the abortion subsidy and some of those colorfully named deals will in fact become law. “The ‘Louisiana Purchase’ — $300 million in additional Medicaid money for the state — and a $100 million hospital-grant program requested by Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) will remain in the legislation,” Politico reports.

It is widely assumed that Pelosi is currently short of the votes needed to pass the wildly unpopular bill. What remains to be seen is whether she can arm-twist and cajole enough members to sacrifice themselves for the greater glory of Obama and the Left’s dream of a health-care “reform.” Republicans will try their best. As one leadership adviser put it to me: “Our goal next week is to sow as much chaos and confusion as possible and make it as difficult as humanly possible. … Our ability to make Dems vote no is limited to applying as much public pressure as possible.  Pelosi and crew can offer payoffs, kickbacks, earmarks and other sweetheart deals to entice them to vote yes.” And should Pelosi pull it off, the rest of the year and the foreseeable future will be a referendum on that vote, with Republicans dedicated to the repeal of a bill that the electorate finds noxious.

No wonder the leadership doesn’t want its members thinking too hard or too long about this process. If they do, they might decide to pull back from that precipice, save themselves, and in the process, rescue what’s left of the moderate wing of the Democratic Party.

Politico reports:

The advice went out to freshman and sophomore House Democrats, blunt talk to help them through a tricky vote on health reform.”At this point, we have to just rip the band-aid off and have a vote — up or down; yes or no?” the memo said. “Things like reconciliation and what the rules committee does is INSIDE BASEBALL.”

Got that? Time to take your lumps and walk the plank! The Democratic leadership most certainly would prefer that the House members not think about reconciliation, for that would remind them how deeply suspicious is the electorate about the process and the substance of ObamaCare. And, of course, the Pelosi-Reid-Obama troika doesn’t want the troops thinking too hard about this week’s parliamentarian’s ruling that made crystal clear what is required here: the House will need to pass the Senate bill, and it will become law before anything is fixed (or not). That means that the abortion subsidy and some of those colorfully named deals will in fact become law. “The ‘Louisiana Purchase’ — $300 million in additional Medicaid money for the state — and a $100 million hospital-grant program requested by Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) will remain in the legislation,” Politico reports.

It is widely assumed that Pelosi is currently short of the votes needed to pass the wildly unpopular bill. What remains to be seen is whether she can arm-twist and cajole enough members to sacrifice themselves for the greater glory of Obama and the Left’s dream of a health-care “reform.” Republicans will try their best. As one leadership adviser put it to me: “Our goal next week is to sow as much chaos and confusion as possible and make it as difficult as humanly possible. … Our ability to make Dems vote no is limited to applying as much public pressure as possible.  Pelosi and crew can offer payoffs, kickbacks, earmarks and other sweetheart deals to entice them to vote yes.” And should Pelosi pull it off, the rest of the year and the foreseeable future will be a referendum on that vote, with Republicans dedicated to the repeal of a bill that the electorate finds noxious.

No wonder the leadership doesn’t want its members thinking too hard or too long about this process. If they do, they might decide to pull back from that precipice, save themselves, and in the process, rescue what’s left of the moderate wing of the Democratic Party.

Read Less

No Up or Down Vote?

To its credit, the Washington Post‘s editorial board has been after Obama and the Democratic Congress over their unseemly effort to sink the D.C. school-voucher program, which allows thousands of poor kids to go to the same schools that the president and many members of Congress send their children to. They write that that the Democratic Senate leadership doesn’t want a vote taken — because that would reveal just how atrocious the effort is to let the popular and effective scholarship program die:

For months, Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.), leader of a bipartisan coalition seeking to continue the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program, has been trying to get floor time. He’s reminded Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) that a commitment was made to allow a vote, and he tried to cooperate with Sen. Richard J. Durbin (Ill.), the Senate’s No. 2 Democrat, who said he was open to finding a way to let the program proceed. Both efforts came to naught, so Mr. Lieberman Tuesday tried to offer an amendment to the American Workers, State and Business Relief Act. That effort, too, was thwarted: “Not germane” is the explanation offered to us by spokesmen for Mr. Reid and Mr. Durbin.

An up or down vote — why not? The president says he likes those when it comes to health care. But don’t hold your breath. As the editors note: ”What possible explanation could Democrats devise for killing something that has been so crucial in the lives of thousands of poor D.C. children? How would it look? No, better to do nothing and hope the issue goes away.”

Lieberman and others can attach the measure as an amendment to a variety of bills. He and the other senators who put the education of D.C. schoolchildren above the interests of Big Labor (in maintaining their near monopoly on education, even after decades of putrid results) should keep at it.

To its credit, the Washington Post‘s editorial board has been after Obama and the Democratic Congress over their unseemly effort to sink the D.C. school-voucher program, which allows thousands of poor kids to go to the same schools that the president and many members of Congress send their children to. They write that that the Democratic Senate leadership doesn’t want a vote taken — because that would reveal just how atrocious the effort is to let the popular and effective scholarship program die:

For months, Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.), leader of a bipartisan coalition seeking to continue the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program, has been trying to get floor time. He’s reminded Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) that a commitment was made to allow a vote, and he tried to cooperate with Sen. Richard J. Durbin (Ill.), the Senate’s No. 2 Democrat, who said he was open to finding a way to let the program proceed. Both efforts came to naught, so Mr. Lieberman Tuesday tried to offer an amendment to the American Workers, State and Business Relief Act. That effort, too, was thwarted: “Not germane” is the explanation offered to us by spokesmen for Mr. Reid and Mr. Durbin.

An up or down vote — why not? The president says he likes those when it comes to health care. But don’t hold your breath. As the editors note: ”What possible explanation could Democrats devise for killing something that has been so crucial in the lives of thousands of poor D.C. children? How would it look? No, better to do nothing and hope the issue goes away.”

Lieberman and others can attach the measure as an amendment to a variety of bills. He and the other senators who put the education of D.C. schoolchildren above the interests of Big Labor (in maintaining their near monopoly on education, even after decades of putrid results) should keep at it.

Read Less

Jumping When Unions Holler

Obama’s promise of  a better, cleaner, and more transparent brand of politics has not been fulfilled. Not by a long shot. The president appoints the SEIU boss to the deficit commission. Congress behind closed doors churns out colorfully named sweetheart deals on ObamaCare. And then they really reveal the depths of their dependence on special-interest patrons.

Writing in the Washington Post, Kelly Amis and Joseph E. Robert Jr. explain that the $450 billion spending bill last year “effectively dismantled a small, successful education program benefiting low-income children in the nation’s capital.” All hope is not lost that a scholarship reviled by Big Labor as a threat to its education monopoly may disappear. But we’re getting close. Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) is trying to restore the program. Unfortunately, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) may prevent the Senate from even voting on the measure. He has, it seems, little support from Democrats:

Who wants to vote against an effective program serving poor minority children?

Congress needed only to reauthorize the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program — as the local community asked it to do and as the research should have compelled it to do — but the members who mattered ignored the families outside their white marble offices, even rescinding scholarships to hundreds of hopeful students.

Where is Obama in all this? Nowhere to be found. They write:

Obama could have stood up for these children, who only want the same opportunities that he had and that his daughters now have. Instead, his education secretary, Arne Duncan, proffered an argument that would be funny if it weren’t so sad: Scholarships for poor students aren’t worth supporting because not enough of them are given out.

Note to Duncan: You could give out more.

The mayor and school chancellor support the scholarship plan but not the Democratic leadership. (“Unfortunately, congressional leaders — especially Rep. Jose Serrano (D-N.Y.), Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) and Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) — crumpled before teachers union threats, led by American Federation of Teachers (AFT) President Randi Weingarten, who declared everything open to negotiation ‘except vouchers.’”) Vouchers, of course, threaten to send students to schools with no teacher unions, and teacher unions are in the business of sustaining their unions, not in maximizing educational opportunities for students. So the union squawks, the Democrats jump, and the D.C. kids get the short end of the stick.

Amis and Robert note that there is a bipartisan group — which includes Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.), George Voinovich (R-Ohio), and John Ensign (R-Nev.) — seeking to save the program. But what the D.C. schoolchildren and their parents need is the president and Senate and House Democratic leadership. Too bad they’ve got Big Labor patrons to mollify.

Obama’s promise of  a better, cleaner, and more transparent brand of politics has not been fulfilled. Not by a long shot. The president appoints the SEIU boss to the deficit commission. Congress behind closed doors churns out colorfully named sweetheart deals on ObamaCare. And then they really reveal the depths of their dependence on special-interest patrons.

Writing in the Washington Post, Kelly Amis and Joseph E. Robert Jr. explain that the $450 billion spending bill last year “effectively dismantled a small, successful education program benefiting low-income children in the nation’s capital.” All hope is not lost that a scholarship reviled by Big Labor as a threat to its education monopoly may disappear. But we’re getting close. Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) is trying to restore the program. Unfortunately, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) may prevent the Senate from even voting on the measure. He has, it seems, little support from Democrats:

Who wants to vote against an effective program serving poor minority children?

Congress needed only to reauthorize the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program — as the local community asked it to do and as the research should have compelled it to do — but the members who mattered ignored the families outside their white marble offices, even rescinding scholarships to hundreds of hopeful students.

Where is Obama in all this? Nowhere to be found. They write:

Obama could have stood up for these children, who only want the same opportunities that he had and that his daughters now have. Instead, his education secretary, Arne Duncan, proffered an argument that would be funny if it weren’t so sad: Scholarships for poor students aren’t worth supporting because not enough of them are given out.

Note to Duncan: You could give out more.

The mayor and school chancellor support the scholarship plan but not the Democratic leadership. (“Unfortunately, congressional leaders — especially Rep. Jose Serrano (D-N.Y.), Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) and Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) — crumpled before teachers union threats, led by American Federation of Teachers (AFT) President Randi Weingarten, who declared everything open to negotiation ‘except vouchers.’”) Vouchers, of course, threaten to send students to schools with no teacher unions, and teacher unions are in the business of sustaining their unions, not in maximizing educational opportunities for students. So the union squawks, the Democrats jump, and the D.C. kids get the short end of the stick.

Amis and Robert note that there is a bipartisan group — which includes Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.), George Voinovich (R-Ohio), and John Ensign (R-Nev.) — seeking to save the program. But what the D.C. schoolchildren and their parents need is the president and Senate and House Democratic leadership. Too bad they’ve got Big Labor patrons to mollify.

Read Less

What a Difference a Year Makes

It was a year ago today that President Obama launched his drive to reform health care. He was confident that he could do what Bill Clinton had failed to do 16 years earlier. As the New York Times reported on March 6, 2009:

Mr. Obama insisted that ”this time is different” because ”the call for reform is coming from the bottom up, from all across the spectrum — from doctors, nurses and patients, unions and businesses, hospitals, health care providers and community groups,” as well as state and local officials.

The Times was reporting on ”a day-long meeting on health care that brought together a diverse group of people, in and out of government.”

“I just want to figure out what works,” Obama told them.

Too bad he didn’t do that. Instead he turned everything over to the ultraliberal Pooh-Bahs of Congress, who produced a bill (or rather two bills, one in the House the other in the Senate) the unpopularity of which has only grown with time. That Obama wanted everything wrapped up by last year’s August recess now seems a long-ago bad joke.

Today there is certainly still a call coming from the bottom up. Unfortunately for the Democrats, it’s an ever-rising groundswell of opposition to ObamaCare, one that threatens to become a political hurricane that could sweep the Democrats out of the majority in both houses of Congress and render the president politically impotent for the rest of his term.

And it isn’t just at the federal level that politicians are feeling the hot wind of public anger rising. Politico reports that state legislatures have approval ratings that in some cases are even worse than Congress’s. Only 16 percent of New Yorkers think their state Senate is doing a good or excellent job. (I guess 16 percent of New Yorkers live on the back of the moon.) Of course, New York is a poster child for legislative dysfunction, but even in Connecticut, only 30 percent approve. In Pennsylvania, it’s 29 percent.

So 2010, thanks in large part to ObamaCare, is shaping up as the most interesting political year since 1980. That was the year that the American electorate began trying to get the political establishment’s attention. They denied a second term to an elected president for the first time since Herbert Hoover and gave the Republicans a majority in the Senate for the first time in 26 years. In 1994 they tried again, ending the Democrat’s majority in the House after 40 years, and even defeating a sitting speaker for the first time since the Civil War.

It was a year ago today that President Obama launched his drive to reform health care. He was confident that he could do what Bill Clinton had failed to do 16 years earlier. As the New York Times reported on March 6, 2009:

Mr. Obama insisted that ”this time is different” because ”the call for reform is coming from the bottom up, from all across the spectrum — from doctors, nurses and patients, unions and businesses, hospitals, health care providers and community groups,” as well as state and local officials.

The Times was reporting on ”a day-long meeting on health care that brought together a diverse group of people, in and out of government.”

“I just want to figure out what works,” Obama told them.

Too bad he didn’t do that. Instead he turned everything over to the ultraliberal Pooh-Bahs of Congress, who produced a bill (or rather two bills, one in the House the other in the Senate) the unpopularity of which has only grown with time. That Obama wanted everything wrapped up by last year’s August recess now seems a long-ago bad joke.

Today there is certainly still a call coming from the bottom up. Unfortunately for the Democrats, it’s an ever-rising groundswell of opposition to ObamaCare, one that threatens to become a political hurricane that could sweep the Democrats out of the majority in both houses of Congress and render the president politically impotent for the rest of his term.

And it isn’t just at the federal level that politicians are feeling the hot wind of public anger rising. Politico reports that state legislatures have approval ratings that in some cases are even worse than Congress’s. Only 16 percent of New Yorkers think their state Senate is doing a good or excellent job. (I guess 16 percent of New Yorkers live on the back of the moon.) Of course, New York is a poster child for legislative dysfunction, but even in Connecticut, only 30 percent approve. In Pennsylvania, it’s 29 percent.

So 2010, thanks in large part to ObamaCare, is shaping up as the most interesting political year since 1980. That was the year that the American electorate began trying to get the political establishment’s attention. They denied a second term to an elected president for the first time since Herbert Hoover and gave the Republicans a majority in the Senate for the first time in 26 years. In 1994 they tried again, ending the Democrat’s majority in the House after 40 years, and even defeating a sitting speaker for the first time since the Civil War.

Read Less

The Reconciliation Dodge

House Democrats should be wary, says Sen. Judd Gregg, who smells a set-up on “reconciliation.” He explains:

“If you’re in the House and you’re saying, ‘Well, I’m going to vote for this because I’m going to get a reconcilation bill,’ I would think twice about that,” Gregg said. “First because, procedurally, it’s going to be hard to put a reconciliation bill through the Senate. Second because I’m not sure there’s going to be a lot of energy to do it, from the president or his people.”

“In my opinion, reconciliation is an exercise for buying votes, which, once they have the votes they really don’t need it,” he said.

And indeed, some House Democrats such as Shelley Berkley smell a rat. (“I would like something more concrete than a promise. The Senate cannot promise its way out of a brown paper bag.”) And if the House Democrats walk the plank but there is no reconciliation fix by the Senate, what then? Jeffrey Anderson sketched out the nightmare scenario:

Target squarely on their chests, they would now get to face their fuming constituents after having passed a $2.5 trillion bill that would allow public funding of abortion, would send $100 million to Nebraska, $300 million to Louisiana, $100 million to Connecticut, would exempt South Florida’s Medicare Advantage enrollees from annual $2,100 cuts in Medicare Advantage benefits, would raise taxes, raise deficits, raise health costs, empower Washington, reduce liberty, politicize medicine, and jeopardize the quality of health care.  Most of all, they would feel the citizenry’s wrath for having voted to pass a bill that only 25 percent of Americans support.

What in such circumstances should wary House Democrats do? Well, voting “no” and proposing a bare-bones, focused list of reforms might be a good idea. But who thinks Pelosi would go along with that gambit? She intends to make her members walk the plank. Unless and until she is convinced she will lose a floor vote, she’ll keep twisting arms and promising that ObamaCare’s passage is just around the corner. But of course, if they had the votes, they’d be voting. But they don’t — in large part because House Democrats have wised up.

House Democrats should be wary, says Sen. Judd Gregg, who smells a set-up on “reconciliation.” He explains:

“If you’re in the House and you’re saying, ‘Well, I’m going to vote for this because I’m going to get a reconcilation bill,’ I would think twice about that,” Gregg said. “First because, procedurally, it’s going to be hard to put a reconciliation bill through the Senate. Second because I’m not sure there’s going to be a lot of energy to do it, from the president or his people.”

“In my opinion, reconciliation is an exercise for buying votes, which, once they have the votes they really don’t need it,” he said.

And indeed, some House Democrats such as Shelley Berkley smell a rat. (“I would like something more concrete than a promise. The Senate cannot promise its way out of a brown paper bag.”) And if the House Democrats walk the plank but there is no reconciliation fix by the Senate, what then? Jeffrey Anderson sketched out the nightmare scenario:

Target squarely on their chests, they would now get to face their fuming constituents after having passed a $2.5 trillion bill that would allow public funding of abortion, would send $100 million to Nebraska, $300 million to Louisiana, $100 million to Connecticut, would exempt South Florida’s Medicare Advantage enrollees from annual $2,100 cuts in Medicare Advantage benefits, would raise taxes, raise deficits, raise health costs, empower Washington, reduce liberty, politicize medicine, and jeopardize the quality of health care.  Most of all, they would feel the citizenry’s wrath for having voted to pass a bill that only 25 percent of Americans support.

What in such circumstances should wary House Democrats do? Well, voting “no” and proposing a bare-bones, focused list of reforms might be a good idea. But who thinks Pelosi would go along with that gambit? She intends to make her members walk the plank. Unless and until she is convinced she will lose a floor vote, she’ll keep twisting arms and promising that ObamaCare’s passage is just around the corner. But of course, if they had the votes, they’d be voting. But they don’t — in large part because House Democrats have wised up.

Read Less