If the coop is more your style than poop…
If the coop is more your style than poop…
The passing of Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) could help Senate Democrats struggling this year to advance health care reform, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said during an interview with the Reno Gazette-Journal, published yesterday.
…I think he (Kennedy) will be a help. He’s an inspiration for us. That was the issue of his life and he didn’t get it done.”
If the Dem Cong want to use Ted Kennedy as a reason to pass laws, they should immediately post Ted’s medical expenses for the past two years and explain how his treatment will compare to Joe Sho’s treatment if they get their way.
Heather MacDonald in City-Journal:
Standing in the well of a jail on New York’s Rikers Island as profanities rain down on you from the cells above, you realize the absurdity of academia’s most celebrated book on incarceration. Discipline and Punish, by the late French historian Michel Foucault, criticized jails and prisons for subjecting inmates to constant, spirit-crushing surveillance. The truth is that surveillance goes both ways in correctional facilities. Inmates watch their keepers as intensely as they are watched—and usually much more malignly.
Jails are the ideal testing ground for romantic myths about incarceration. As policing has gotten more efficient at nabbing wrongdoers over the last decade and a half, it has pumped a growing volume of increasingly troubled individuals into the jail system. Governing that population is a management challenge more complex than that faced by any other criminal-justice institution. Yet jails, unlike prisons, remain largely out of sight and out of mind. This public ignorance is unfortunate, because jails have been evolving important principles for controlling criminal behavior of late, ideas that directly contradict the Foucauldian critique.
To understand the difficulties of running a large jail, imagine that your job is personally to shepherd each of the thousands of commuters streaming through New York’s massive Penn Station to their trains safely and on time . . . except that the commuters are all criminals who keep changing their travel plans, and their trains, to which they don’t want to go, have no fixed timetables. A cross-section of the entire universe of criminal offenders, from the most hardened murderer to the most deranged vagrant, cycles through the nation’s 3,365 jails. But the majority of jail inmates show up with no predictable release date, since they have as yet only been charged with a crime and are awaiting a trial that may or may not occur and whose duration is unknown. Even before their trials begin, they may make bail at any moment and be released. Planning for pretrial detainees is therefore no easy task. “The ones who stay less than 36 hours drive you out of your mind,” says Michael Jacobson, a former corrections commissioner in New York City. “You think: ‘Couldn’t you have made bail ten hours ago rather than coming into my facility?’ ” Prisons, by contrast, hold only post-conviction defendants who have been found guilty or pleaded guilty and have been sentenced to a known term of more than a year. (Prisons and jails differ as well in their government overseers: the former are run by states and the federal government, the latter by cities and counties.)
Suggest to any Mexican that Mexico has a penchant for American pop culture, and a defensive reflex goes straight to mariachi, lucha libre, and anything else Mexican.
But thousands allowed America’s cultural hegemony to seep in on Saturday, as Mexicans from all walks of life gathered to retrace the dance steps in Michael Jackson’s hit 1983 video “Thriller” to mark what would have been the pop star’s 51st birthday.
In doing so they claimed to break the Guinness Book of World Records for number of people dancing to Thriller in a single gathering, surpassing attempts in both Spain and England. (The previous record was apparently set by a mere 242 students from the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Va. in May. Guinness will make a final determination later.)
Part homage, part Halloween, the event drew more than 50,000 people (including over 12,000 dancers), according to city officials.
Japan’s next prime minister, Yukio Hatoyama, hailed his party’s landslide victory Sundayas a “revolution” in a nation where one party dominated politics for more than half a century.
As head of the opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), which crushed the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) in lower house elections, Mr. Hatoyama has pledged to end bureaucratic rule and two-decade-long economic doldrums. He began forming a government Monday and said he will announce his cabinet after he is officially named prime minister in a few weeks.
Despite his reformist rhetoric, however, Hatoyama comes from a traditional political background: He’s a fourth-generation politician and former lawmaker for the LDP whose grandfather helped found the party.
“Hatoyama is not a Barack Obama,” says Minoru Morita, an independent political analyst. “Like shadow shogun Ichiro Ozawa [an influential member of the DPJ], Hatoyama used to be an LDP member.”
Although none of the current bills pending would institute a single-payer system, many key Democrats including Obama have said that’s the direction they want to take us.
We’re still here doing what we do for the people of Las Vegas and Nevada. So, let me assure you, if we weathered all of that, we can damn sure outlast the bully threats of Sen. Harry Reid.
On Wednesday, before he addressed a Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce luncheon, Reid joined the chamber’s board members for a meet-’n'-greet and a photo. One of the last in line was the Review-Journal’s director of advertising, Bob Brown, a hard-working Nevadan who toils every day on behalf of advertisers. He has nothing to do with news coverage or the opinion pages of the Review-Journal.
Yet, as Bob shook hands with our senior U.S. senator in what should have been nothing but a gracious business setting, Reid said: “I hope you go out of business.”
Later, in his public speech, Reid said he wanted to let everyone know that he wants the Review-Journal to continue selling advertising because the Las Vegas Sun is delivered inside the Review-Journal.
Such behavior cannot go unchallenged.
You could call Reid’s remark ugly and be right. It certainly was boorish. Asinine? That goes without saying.
But to fully capture the magnitude of Reid’s remark (and to stop him from doing the same thing to others) it must be called what it was — a full-on threat perpetrated by a bully who has forgotten that he was elected to office to protect Nevadans, not sound like he’s shaking them down.
No citizen should expect this kind of behavior from a U.S. senator. It is certainly not becoming of a man who is the majority leader in the U.S. Senate. And it absolutely is not what anyone would expect from a man who now asks Nevadans to send him back to the Senate for a fifth term.
If he thinks he can push the state’s largest newspaper around by exacting some kind of economic punishment in retaliation for not seeing eye to eye with him on matters of politics, I can only imagine how he pressures businesses and individuals who don’t have the wherewithal of the Review-Journal.
For the sake of all who live and work in Nevada, we can’t let this bully behavior pass without calling out Sen. Reid. If he’ll try it with the Review-Journal, you can bet that he’s tried it with others. So today, we serve notice on Sen. Reid that this creepy tactic will not be tolerated.
We won’t allow you to bully us. And if you try it with anyone else, count on going through us first.
That’s a promise, not a threat.
And it’s a promise to our readers, not to you, Sen. Reid.
This newspaper traces its roots to before Las Vegas was Las Vegas.
We’ve seen cattle ranches give way to railroads. We chronicled the construction of Hoover Dam. We reported on the first day of legalized gambling. The first hospital. The first school. The first church. We survived the mob, Howard Hughes, the Great Depression, several recessions, two world wars, dozens of news competitors and any number of two-bit politicians who couldn’t stand scrutiny, much less criticism.
President Reagan, dimissed by the left as an “amiable dunce,” understood that the 1980’s Soviet empire was weak and unsustainable.
He used this knowledge to expertly bring an end to the evil empire (which killed many more than Hitler.)
Senator Ted Kennedy who, like most on the left failed to understand the realities, thought Reagan was outfoxing Gorbachev and took it upon himself to give the Soviets some pointers. (Another example of Ted’s vaunted bipartisanship?)
The National Post of Canada wrote about this in a review of John O’Sullivan’s book The President, The Pope and The Prime Minister: Three Who Changed the World.
After the first Reagan-Gorbachev summit in Geneva in 1985, Senator Edward Kennedy met with Mikhail Gorbachev in Moscow in February, 1986. The essence of the meeting, Mr. O’Sullivan reports, was that Senator Kennedy was concerned about Reagan’s popularity in the United States and that the president might use that strength to the detriment of the Soviets. After meeting with Mr. Gorbachev, the senator briefed Soviet officials on how to outmaneouvre Reagan in future negotiations.
“You should put more pressure, and firmer pressure, on Reagan,” said Kennedy, according to notes of his meeting with Vadim Zagladin, a Soviet foreign official who organized his meeting with Gorbachev. “And, of course, I shall think over what can be done on my side, the Senate’s side. At the Congress session, I shall report on my meeting with Mr. Gorbachev. I will speak in the country as many times as ?necessary.”
It’s one thing to disagree with Mr. Reagan’s policy; it’s quite another, with the Cold War still on, to undermine his policies by advising and making common cause with the Soviet communists. (O’Sullivan reveals that Kennedy had made previous overtures to Yuri Andropov, but was rebuffed.)
The news about Senator Kennedy, some of it previously reported and some of it original to Mr. O’Sullivan, should be devastating to a still-sitting senator. Imagine a senator trotting off to apartheid-era South Africa to advise the regime on how to avoid diplomatic pressure. Perhaps the senator’s long history of scandal (Chappaquiddick, the debauchery of Good Friday 1991, which resulted in rape charges against his nephew, etc.) immunizes him from reports that have him merely cavorting with the Soviets. Whatever the reason, the revelations have not created a stir.
To say the least. Undermining your president seems like borderline treason.
La Crosse WI — Slowly filing past a green-and-gold casket festooned with cheese curds, lottery tickets, and bouquets of 6-pack rings, the city of La Crosse bid a tearful farewell this morning to Norman V. “Norm” Snitker, 62. Long heralded as the “Lion of Leinenkugel” for his relentless fight for free beer and shots at local taverns and supper clubs, Snitker succumbed to an exploding liver Tuesday evening during a late model modified heat at La Crosse Speedway’s $1 Jagermeister night.
“Norm left an amazing legacy, and an amazing bar tab,” said mourner Les Schreindl, 59. “La Crosse won’t see his likes again soon.”
Like hundreds of other who came to pay their respects at First Presbyterian — some traveling from as far as Menomonie, Pewaukee, Ashwebenon, and Waunawacamapepee — Schreindl wiped a tear in remembrance of the fallen champion of universal alcohol rights. Many vowed to carry on his fight, but along with the heartfelt, staggering eulogies, there was a melancholy sense that the death of Norm Snitker marked the end of the Snitker welding supply dynasty that has for so long dominated public life in La Crosse County.
A Storied Life
Born on July 9, 1947 as the 7th child of legendary La Crosse welding supply impresario and kingmaker Elmer Snitker, Norman Snitker grew up amid the stately opulence afforded by his father’s reported $15,000 fortune, bass boat, and palatial storage shed. By all accounts a precocious drinker, he took early advantage of his birthright and fully stocked basement liquor cabinet, earning the first of his 138 lifetime DUIs at age 11.
Although he grew up in privilege, Snitker insiders say that even at a young age Norm showed a deep empathy for those who were less fortunate.
“Norm would look at the other kids at school, and say, ‘why don’t they have access to the same fake IDs as me? Why must they remain sober?’” said classmate Glenn Hunsaker. “It became a crusade for him, and he became an activist. Every Friday night you’d see him at the Piggly Wiggly parking lot, making sure that every kid in La Crosse got the Pabst and Old Style that they so desperately needed.”
In Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment, he poses the moral question of whether a person could or should kill one person if it would benefit humanity. Would you agree to the death of an unknown person in China if no one would know and the Chinaman’s wealth could be used to benefit you and your family. Raskolnikov goes beyond the death of a stranger in China to the murder of a crabby pawnbroker to get the money to help his impoverished mother and sister. The reader, while understanding his motivation, still recoils at his moral choice.
But killing for wealth is something that most of us would reject. However, that is a relatively easy moral question. A much tougher one was the question in front of the Bush administration with the capture of high level Al Qaeda operatives. Would you agree to what some perceive as torture in order to save the lives of innocents around the world? That is a much more difficult one and all of us are reacting with different answers. Some seek to define what was done not as torture, but something just short of torture. Limiting sleep and simulated drowning is markedly different from acts that leave a permanent, physical mark such as the torture that we’ve read about in other wars. But even if you endorse the broadest definition and classify sleep deprivation and waterboarding as torture, would you be willing to accept this if it saved lives? Throw in that the person undergoing it was one of the most evil in the world, a man responsible for conceiving and planning 9/11. Now would it be worth it?
Others come at it from a different direction and reject the proposition that the information that was given up as worth anything. They want to downplay its value or posit that the detainee would have given up that information if we’d just had world enough and time to wait until he gave it up on his own.
Thus we come to yesterday’s story in the Washington Post about what Khalid Sheik Mohammed gave up after undergoing the so-called enhanced interrogation techniques.
After enduring the CIA’s harshest interrogation methods and spending more than a year in the agency’s secret prisons, Khalid Sheik Mohammed stood before U.S. intelligence officers in a makeshift lecture hall, leading what they called “terrorist tutorials.”
In 2005 and 2006, the bearded, pudgy man who calls himself the mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks discussed a wide variety of subjects, including Greek philosophy and al-Qaeda dogma. In one instance, he scolded a listener for poor note-taking and his inability to recall details of an earlier lecture.
Speaking in English, Mohammed “seemed to relish the opportunity, sometimes for hours on end, to discuss the inner workings of al-Qaeda and the group’s plans, ideology and operatives,” said one of two sources who described the sessions, speaking on the condition of anonymity because much information about detainee confinement remains classified. “He’d even use a chalkboard at times.”
These scenes provide previously unpublicized details about the transformation of the man known to U.S. officials as KSM from an avowed and truculent enemy of the United States into what the CIA called its “preeminent source” on al-Qaeda. This reversal occurred after Mohammed was subjected to simulated drowning and prolonged sleep deprivation, among other harsh interrogation techniques.
“KSM, an accomplished resistor, provided only a few intelligence reports prior to the use of the waterboard, and analysis of that information revealed that much of it was outdated, inaccurate or incomplete,” according to newly unclassified portions of a 2004 report by the CIA’s then-inspector general released Monday by the Justice Department.
The debate over the effectiveness of subjecting detainees to psychological and physical pressure is in some ways irresolvable, because it is impossible to know whether less coercive methods would have achieved the same result. But for defenders of waterboarding, the evidence is clear: Mohammed cooperated, and to an extraordinary extent, only when his spirit was broken in the month after his capture March 1, 2003, as the inspector general’s report and other documents released this week indicate.
Over a few weeks, he was subjected to an escalating series of coercive methods, culminating in 7 1/2 days of sleep deprivation, while diapered and shackled, and 183 instances of waterboarding. After the month-long torment, he was never waterboarded again.
“What do you think changed KSM’s mind?” one former senior intelligence official said this week after being asked about the effect of waterboarding. “Of course it began with that.”
KSM is now claiming that he was playing the interrogators and gave up false information. The CIA is claiming that they used his information to forestall other attacks.
Mohammed described plans to strike targets in Saudi Arabia, East Asia and the United States after the Sept. 11 attacks, including using a network of Pakistanis “to target gas stations, railroad tracks, and the Brooklyn bridge in New York.” Cross-referencing material from different detainees, and leveraging information from one to extract more detail from another, the CIA and FBI went on to round up operatives both in the United States and abroad.
“Detainees in mid-2003 helped us build a list of 70 individuals — many of who we had never heard of before — that al-Qaeda deemed suitable for Western operations,” according to the CIA summary.
The CIA Inspector General who investigated the interrogations admits that we will never know the answer to the conterfactual that human rights advocates point to – what would he have given without the EITs? However, we didn’t have time for some scientific study to figure out what would break them short of enhanced techniques.
John L. Helgerson, the former CIA inspector general who investigated the agency’s detention and interrogation program, said his work did not put him in “a position to reach definitive conclusions about the effectiveness of particular interrogation methods.”
“Certain of the techniques seemed to have little effect, whereas waterboarding and sleep deprivation were the two most powerful techniques and elicited a lot of information,” he said in an interview. “But we didn’t have the time or resources to do a careful, systematic analysis of the use of particular techniques with particular individuals and independently confirm the quality of the information that came out.”
Ultimately, it all comes down to a moral question worthy of Dostoevsky. Fortunately, we don’t face such questions in our ordinary lives. But back in 2002 and 2003, members of our government, tasked with the responsibility of preventing the deaths of innocent Americans had to answer that question. They chose one answer and the evidence seems to bear them out that the result was information that prevented further attacks. You can debate the value of that evidence, but can you deny that there was the will on the part of Al Qaeda to kill many more Americans and that there haven’t been such attacks since 9/11? Do you think they just gave up?
Some experts even posit that the captured members of Al Qaeda had accepted a certain amount of treatment so that they could satisfy themselves that they’d resisted enough and could then give up that information.
One former U.S. official with detailed knowledge of how the interrogations were carried out said Mohammed, like several other detainees, seemed to have decided that it was okay to stop resisting after he had endured a certain amount of pressure.
“Once the harsher techniques were used on [detainees], they could be viewed as having done their duty to Islam or their cause, and their religious principles would ask no more of them,” said the former official, who requested anonymity because the events are still classified. “After that point, they became compliant. Obviously, there was also an interest in being able to later say, ‘I was tortured into cooperating.’ “
It’s rather interesting that we’re now getting these anonymous leaks from the CIA defending the EITs. I bet that there are a lot of people working now at the CIA who are mightily ticked at seeing the Obama Justice Department go back on the decisions made by career Justice officials to decline to prosecute the CIA.
I’m supremely glad that I don’t have to tackle such difficult moral questions in my daily life. Dostoevsky’s choice of murdering the pawnbroker to help your family is an easy one in comparison. But people bearing the immense responsibility of our safety did have to answer that choice. In the end, I happen to believe that they came to the correct, yet difficult answer. Others disagree and feel that they crossed the line. But those critics aren’t dealing with their own counterfactual. What if we hadn’t used those techniques and what if many more people, or even one more innocent person, had been murdered by a plot that we could have forestalled? Would that have been the correct moral answer? Or would they have wished that they could go back in time and deprive KSM of a bit more sleep and simulated drowning a bit more if it would have saved those lives?
Former president George W. Bush was characteristically gracious about Kennedy (“a great man”) in his comments since his death, but Kennedy went after Bush utterly without scruple. Consider Kennedy’s shrill attacks on President Bush’s decision to invade Iraq. In 2002, Senator Kennedy himself had said, “There is no doubt that Saddam Hussein’s regime is a serious danger, that he is a tyrant, and that his pursuit of lethal weapons of mass destruction cannot be tolerated. He must be disarmed.” But just a year later Kennedy was saying, “This was made up in Texas, announced in January to the Republican leadership that war was going to take place and was going to be good politically. This whole thing was a fraud.” In 2004, Kennedy said “Before the war, week after week after week we were told lie after lie after lie after lie. . . . The president’s war is revealed as mindless, needless, senseless, reckless.”
Kennedy did not — perhaps could not — accept that the Bush administration had made a good-faith decision to use military force (as his brother did in the Bay of Pigs and Vietnam). Instead, he contributed to conspiracy theories about Bush’s true motives. Echoing the most inflamed leftist websites, Kennedy alleged that “the president and his senior aides began the march to war in Iraq in the earliest days of the administration, long before the terrorists struck this nation on 9/11.”
When the abuses at Abu Ghraib prison came to light, disgust and abhorrence were expressed pretty universally and certainly bipartisanly. But Kennedy, unable to resist a cheap political shot, actually compared the U.S. to Saddam Hussein, saying, “Shamefully, we now learn that Saddam’s torture chambers reopened under new management — U.S. management.”
…As Joan Vennochi wrote in the Boston Globe: “Like all figures in history — and like those in the Bible, for that matter — Kennedy came with flaws. Moses had a temper. Peter betrayed Jesus. Kennedy had Chappaquiddick, a moment of tremendous moral collapse.”
Actually, Peter denied Jesus, rather than “betrayed” him, but close enough for Catholic-lite Massachusetts. And if Moses having a temper never led him to leave some gal at the bottom of the Red Sea, well, let’s face it, he doesn’t have Ted’s tremendous legislative legacy, does he? Perhaps it’s kinder simply to airbrush out of the record the name of the unfortunate complicating factor on the receiving end of that moment of “tremendous moral collapse.” When Kennedy cheerleaders do get around to mentioning her, it’s usually to add insult to fatal injury. As Teddy’s biographer Adam Clymer wrote, Edward Kennedy’s “achievements as a senator have towered over his time, changing the lives of far more Americans than remember the name Mary Jo Kopechne.”
You can’t make an omelette without breaking chicks, right? I don’t know how many lives the senator changed — he certainly changed Mary Jo’s — but you’re struck less by the precise arithmetic than by the basic equation: How many changed lives justify leaving a human being struggling for breath for up to five hours pressed up against the window in a small, shrinking air pocket in Teddy’s Oldsmobile? If the senator had managed to change the lives of even more Americans, would it have been okay to leave a couple more broads down there? Hey, why not? At the Huffington Post, Melissa Lafsky mused on what Mary Jo “would have thought about arguably being a catalyst for the most successful Senate career in history . . . Who knows — maybe she’d feel it was worth it.” What true-believing liberal lass wouldn’t be honored to be dispatched by that death panel?
We are all flawed, and most of us are weak, and in hellish moments, at a split-second’s notice, confronting the choice that will define us ever after, many of us will fail the test. Perhaps Mary Jo could have been saved; perhaps she would have died anyway. What is true is that Edward Kennedy made her death a certainty. When a man (if you’ll forgive the expression) confronts the truth of what he has done, what does honor require? Six years before Chappaquiddick, in the wake of Britain’s comparatively very minor “Profumo scandal,” the eponymous John Profumo, Her Majesty’s Secretary of State for War, resigned from the House of Commons and the Queen’s Privy Council, and disappeared amid the tenements of the East End to do good works washing dishes and helping with children’s playgroups, in anonymity, for the last 40 years of his life. With the exception of one newspaper article to mark the centenary of his charitable mission, he never uttered another word in public again.
Ted Kennedy went a different route. He got kitted out with a neck brace and went on TV and announced the invention of the “Kennedy curse,” a concept that yoked him to his murdered brothers as a fellow victim — and not, as Mary Jo perhaps realized in those final hours, the perpetrator. He dared us to call his bluff, and, when we didn’t, he made all of us complicit in what he’d done. We are all prey to human frailty, but few of us get to inflict ours on an entire nation.
From Don’t Judge My Hair
It was more than a year ago that the core of this city was submerged to its rooftops, a result of record flooding on the Cedar River that caused an estimated $6 billion in damage — among the most costly natural disasters since Hurricane Katrina.
The outpouring of attention toward New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, ratcheting up again now as the fourth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina approaches, has not been seen here. In fact, the people of Cedar Rapids are feeling neglected.
The recovery here is only limping along as waterlogged buildings are still being gutted, thousands of displaced families remain in temporary housing, and large-scale demolition to make way for a new downtown has just begun.
Federal financing for long-term recovery is trickling in, with the government having committed money for about half of what the city says it needs. And only a fraction of that has actually arrived.
“We really feel that we are the forgotten disaster,” said Greg Eyerly, the city’s flood recovery director. “We don’t make sexy products. We make starch that goes into paper, we make foodstuffs, ingredients in crackers and cereal. We make ethanol. The sexiest thing we make is Cap’n Crunch. We’re not a beachfront property. We make an anonymous contribution to our country, and people forget about us.”
To be sure, Hurricane Katrina’s huge reach and a botched emergency response devastated a far greater swath of the country than did the flooding in the Midwest, and no one here is trying to make tit-for-tat disaster comparisons. No lives were lost in the flooding in Cedar Rapids, and the government’s initial response to the crisis was generally considered a success.
But over the long term, the tone has changed, and the feeling of neglect amid devastation is palpable now. Five weeks of severe weather in the summer of 2008 made disaster areas out of 85 of the state’s 99 counties.
“We’re not making a lot of noise about it,” said Gov. Chet Culver, a Democrat, reflecting on a sense of Midwestern stoicism. “We’re going about our business. That’s a determination that’s impressive, but it doesn’t attract attention.”
The fact that the media and Democrats cannot find a racial angle might have something to do with it.
Congresswoman Diane Watson makes history, as in “making it up.” Also, she no doubt doesn’t realize that Cuba spends $240/year per person on healthcare. Hey, for that, we can have universal healthcare, too.
“You can think whatever you want to about Fidel Castro, but he was one of the brightest leaders I have ever met.”
KABC’s Michael Linder was the only broadcast reporter at Thursday night’s town hall health care debate at Wade AME Church when Rep. Diane Watson [D] made some astonishing comments including claims that those opposed to health care reform are attempting to destroy a president “who looks like me.”
Later, Watson praised heath care in Fidel Castro’s Cuba — and, it seemed, the Cuban revolution itself.
Recently, I had a very odd experience. No, I didn’t wake up 30 years younger and with a full head of hair. That would have been odd but nice, whereas the experience I actually had was merely bizarre.
Like most bloggers, I write for more than one website. It’s rather like being a syndicated columnist, except that little or no money changes hands. But, as a writer who hopes to influence public opinion, you want to have as many readers as possible.
The strange event took place on a Tuesday. It came in the form of an e-mail from Jonathan Garthwaite, who runs Townhall, a website I’ve contributed to for nearly four years.The message read: “Dear Burt: As everyone is painfully aware, the economy is forcing companies to make difficult decisions. Townhall.com is no different. We take our commitment to our readers and our bottom line very seriously. Similarly, we are constantly reassessing our editorial lineup. We end up making tough decisions that aren’t always fun.
“I know it won’t please you to know that we’ve decided to discontinue carrying your column. It was not a decision make (sic) carelessly. Picking between colleagues, friends and talented writers is never easy.
“Thank you very much for sharing your insights with Townhall.com readers over the years. Sincerely, Jonathan.”
I must confess I was shocked to receive an electronic pink slip after all this time. I sent Garthwaite an e-mail asking which other writers were being made to walk the plank, but he said he wasn’t free to share that information. I did get him to agree to post a notice on the following Friday, lest readers simply assumed that I had died.
The reason I’m sharing this with you isn’t because I regard this as a case of blatant censorship. This isn’t the federal government silencing me. Townhall has every right to post or not post any writer for any reason. I don’t believe I or anyone else has the inalienable right to have his articles disseminated. There are many more important issues than whether or not a blog decides to cut me loose. Okay, I exaggerate. There aren’t many things more important, but there are, I’m almost certain, several that rival it.
That said, I fear that there are dark forces at play. You see, although there was the reference in Garthwaite’s e-mail to the weak economy and the bottom line, there had been no prior discussion between Townhall and me about money. At least not for quite a while. When I first started writing for them back in 2005, Townhall was paying me $35 for an article. But I was writing faster than they were posting, so they agreed to run two-a-week, and I agreed to lower the price to $20 each. And so it has remained.
But if they were cutting me loose over money, wouldn’t it have made more sense for them to suggest we revert to one-a-week or even ask me if I would write for less, even for free? Isn’t that usually how these things work?
Therefore, I think reasonable people can agree that money makes a very questionable motive in all this. And if I were popular enough with the readers to warrant Townhall’s posting two of my articles each and every week for all this time, lack of popularity wouldn’t appear to be the problem.
Now, understand, I am not the sort of person who readily subscribes to conspiracies. If anything, I tend to pooh-pooh them because I don’t believe two people can keep a secret, and I’m dead certain that three or more can’t. However, something about the timing couldn’t fail to grab my attention in much the same way that a mackerel lying under your pillow will certainly grab yours.
The piece that Townhall had posted on Monday of that week was an attack on our sworn enemies, which I had titled “The Straight Poop on Islam,” but which Townhall, in a fit of political correctness verging on insanity, had re-named “The Straight Talk on Islam.”
Perhaps it was sheer coincidence that the very next day, I was let go. Maybe the one thing had absolutely nothing to do with the other. Perhaps somewhere along the line, Cause and Effect had gone to Reno for a divorce and I just hadn’t heard about it.
But at least now you understand why I can’t help wondering if the folks at Townhall got an offer they couldn’t refuse — perhaps a call from someone threatening to send them a ticking CAIR package.
HT: Susan Gertson
When JFK junior died after flying his plane into the drink, the airwaves were flooded with overwrought rhetoric about him being “America’s prince.”
Diane Sawyer yammered on about how “he’d grown up before our eyes.” In fact, the opposite was true; all credit goes to Jackie O for keeping it that way.
Now, another Kennedy dies, and we’re getting more of the royal treatment. Here’s Eugene Robinson in the WAPO:
That the nation is so moved by the passing of Edward Moore Kennedy testifies to his skill, grace and determination at playing a role that must have been infinitely more difficult than it sounds: a prince fated never to be king.
Grace?! No legislative record can cancel his loutish mistreatment of women.
Ted Kennedy was the youngest of nine children in a family whose ruthless patriarch was intent on building an American dynasty. The old man, business titan Joseph Kennedy, was a king.
No, Joe Kennedy was a one-time bootlegger and an ambassador who gave FDR a positive review of Hitler. He was also a father who taught his spoiled sons that women existed for their amusement and pleasure.
He might have wanted to be a king, but, thanks to the Constitution, the only kings we have in America are Burger King, the King of Flatscreen TVs, King Kong etc.
Ted’s older brother Jack, the handsome young president, was a king. The other two brothers, Joe and Robert, were slated for the throne but died too soon. Ted made a run for president, but with the air of someone who didn’t really believe he was meant to win. He was the baby brother, the eternal prince.
Were liberals self-aware, they’d be mortified by their hyper-emotional gushing. They just can’t let go of the romantic idea of Camelot. MSNBC knucklehead Chris Matthews went so far as to say that Teddy had passed the mantle of Kennedy brother on to Obama, that Obama was the new brother.
It recalls the time I heard someone say the movie “Steel Magnolias” had him staggering from the theater sobbing. I remember thinking, “And this guy is allowed to vote.”
If only. These wannabe royals (or royal subjects) get to vote, run the news media, the Congress, academia and now, the White House.
The curious thing is that when Jeb Bush’s name was bandied as a possible presidential candidate, Big Baloney told us that Americans don’t like dynasties.
Some dynasties are just more equal than others.
The New Republic finds hope in Patrick Kennedy, Ted’s son.
Patrick seems to lack political skills and has a drug problem that’s sent him to rehab and to re-rehab, but TNR finds an upside — he hasn’t killed any girls.
And while Patrick has suffered through some embarrassing personal episodes since taking office–a confrontation with an airport security guard in 2000; an Ambien-induced car crash in 2006 that resulted in him going to rehab; and a return to rehab this past June, apparently brought on in part from stress over his father’s medical condition–he’s committed no transgressions of the magnitude of Chappaquiddick.
If the conventional wisdom is that Teddy didn’t start becoming the lion of the Senate until after his unsuccessful presidential campaign in 1980–and that he didn’t find peace in his personal life until, at the age of 60, he married Victoria Reggie in 1992–then Patrick, who’s in the 15th year of his congressional career and the 42nd year of his life, still has some time to get things straight.
Gotta have a Kennedy, gotta have a Kennedy, gotta have a Kennedy…
by J.C. Phillips
One of the more pernicious myths surrounding the debate over health care is the oft repeated claim that conservatives do not want reform. Nonsense! What we do not want is the warm bucket of snake oil currently being sold to the American people by this administration. Conservatives have long argued for the need to reduce mandated benefits, reduce the reliance on third-party payers and get rid of public policies that hinder entrepreneurship and innovation. This is the kind of reform conservatives want – the right kind of reform.
Because the number of Americans that are actually denied medical care is zero, the administration has chosen to cite the fact that 47 million Americans lack medical insurance (another myth) as the reason for its urgency in passing a huge bill that congressmen can’t be bothered to read. Why, just yesterday the administration and its army of sales people began to talk about health insurance reform; this after years of hearing about the need to reform healthcare. Ahh! The power of focus groups. Now we need single-payer universal healthcare to bring down costs (prices) and to protect the sick from “discrimination” at the hands of evil insurance companies.
So the cause of our national distress is the private health insurance industry, which no doubt explains why A) Obama has made back room deals with the insurance and pharmaceutical industries and B) why the bill making its way through the House of Representatives devotes exactly 6 of its more than 1000 pages to insurance reform.
Conservatives of course have long pointed to the over-reliance on insurance companies and other third party payers as one of the major causes of the increase in healthcare costs. It is worth remembering that the largest insurer in the nation is the federal government through Medicare and Medicaid. And how’s that working out?
A recent study from the National Bureau of Economic Research found that about half of the increase in health expenditures nationwide since 1965 was caused by the creation of Medicare and Medicaid. Why? One reason is that under the government programs prices are not the result of contracts between providers and patients. Instead, prices are set between providers and the U.S. Government. In practice, this means the U.S. government says what’s covered and what the price is (regardless of the actual cost), and providers and patients have no choice in the matter.
Worse, since patients do not negotiate price, they don’t care what the price is and have no incentive to seek out a provider with a lower one. On the other hand, they have every incentive to take health risks they couldn’t otherwise afford and use services they might not otherwise be willing to pay for. There is a similar incentive for providers to charge for things covered by Medicare and Medicaid and do those things as rapidly as possible, whether or not that is what the art of medicine indicates would be the best treatment. So price – the most effective way to allocate scarce resources – isn’t determined by negotiation but rather by politics, (as has already been demonstrated by Obama’s back room deals) which invariably leads to shortages and rationing.
And what of the huge cost savings that Obama promises will magically appear under reform with the same perverse incentives?
According to the National Center for Policy Analysis, “Medicare’s total unfunded liability is more than five times larger than that of Social Security.” In fact, the new Medicare prescription drug benefit enacted in 2006 (Part D) has proven to be twice as much as the original congressional budget office estimates and alone adds some $17 trillion to the projected Medicare shortfall – an amount greater than all of Social Security’s unfunded obligations.” The liability for Medicaid is off the charts because unlike Medicare Medicaid has no “trust fund” but is paid for by the states with matching grants from the fed. I can’t speak for you, but I am overflowing with confidence that a government takeover of healthcare is just the ticket to solve our fiscal problems.
The reform the new left is attempting to force upon us is the wrong kind of reform. It will not bring down costs, it will not improve the overall health of Americans and it will not encourage innovation and entrepreneurship. What it will do is dramatically increase the number of Americans dependant upon government for their medical care and their livelihoods. That may be a good way to build a political base, but it ain’t reform.
… For all of his talent, however, Obama has not grasped the fine points of how Reagan succeeded in advancing his agenda.
There was a lot of heavy breathing when Obama reached the 100-day mark in his presidency back in April, at which point he had signed into law a “stimulus” bill, which was a pure pork frenzy, and the Lily Ledbetter Act, which merely reversed a narrow Supreme Court decision on employment law. Hardly the stuff to make a new FDR legend. Yet Doris Kearns Goodwin wrote that “I don’t think we’ve ever seen anything like Obama since Roosevelt,” and Elaine Kamarck of Harvard said, “In a way, Obama’s 100 days is even more dramatic than Roosevelt’s.” Now, at the 200-day mark, Obama’s main-agenda item of health care reform, as well as cap-and-trade climate policy, show signs of being close to stalling out, and his job approval ratings are steadily eroding.
The contrast with Reagan is instructive. At the 200-day mark of Reagan’s presidency, he was repairing to his California ranch to sign into law his main objective–the 25% across-the-board income tax rate cut that was the centerpiece of “Reaganomics.” Even as the economy began a steep decline into serious recession in the fall of 1981, Reagan’s job approval ratings held up at around the 60% level.
More important, unlike Obama, whose party enjoys large majorities in both houses of Congress, Reagan had to get his program through a Democrat-controlled House of Representatives, whose leadership was relentlessly hostile. This was one of the keys to Reagan’s success, ironically enough; lacking a partisan majority, Reagan had to persuade a significant number of Democrats to back his agenda, making his program genuinely bipartisan. The large Democratic majorities in Congress today are arguably Obama’s curse, for they have relieved him of the necessity to achieve a bipartisan basis for his agenda.
Obama made one other mistake that Reagan avoided. Though it is true that Reagan concentrated on only one large item in his first-year agenda (the tax and budget cuts), while Obama is trying to “do too much,” the deeper problem is that Obama lost control of the details of his agenda. He didn’t just lose control–he inexplicably gave it away. Starting with the stimulus in January and continuing with the cap and trade bill–and now the health care reform plan–Obama surrendered the details to Congress to work out. Reagan never did that. He may have bargained with individual members of Congress, but he always made sure Congress faced an up-or-down vote on his plan, and he attacked alternative bills that came out of the congressional sausage factory and favor machine.
Perhaps Obama may have thought that it was necessary to allow Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Barney Frank and other Democrats–restless after eight years of President George W. Bush–room to run wild. But this illuminates another key difference between Reagan and Obama–an important element in the former president’s statecraft that nearly everyone has overlooked.
Throughout his presidency, Reagan had to resist strong pressure from his own party to change course. One of the startling aspects of Reagan’s personal diary is how critical he was of congressional Republicans. He complained about his own party as often as he did Democrats and the media, and we know from various sources that he often had vigorous arguments in the Oval Office with other members of the GOP. Reagan understood that short-term concerns–chiefly reelection and servicing interest groups–dominate the minds of members of Congress. So far there is no evidence that Obama has stood up to his own party on the Hill over anything; to the contrary, Obama is so concerned about not repeating Jimmy Carter’s bad relations with Hill Democrats that he is letting them lead him around by the nose. This is a formula for a mediocre presidency.
Placed next to Reagan, Obama presents a picture of a politician with formidable gifts and vision, but weak and indecisive leadership. Recall, too, Reagan’s own 200-day mark: He had fired the striking air traffic controllers and would shortly order the Navy to shoot back at Libyan warplanes in the Mediterranean, showing he would not be rolled at home or abroad. Obama, in contrast, relentlessly apologizes to the world for America’s past sins, acquiesces in the ransom of American captives in North Korea, and remains strangely silent about our important ongoing military campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Recently in the New York Times, mystery writer Sara Paretsky published “Le Treatment,” the story of how she took her husband, suffering from chest pains during their vacation in France, to a local hospital, where he was treated without delay. A cardiologist correctly diagnosed the problem, pneumonia, and administered the necessary medication. The hospital charged no money up front, though the doctor apologetically said that he would have to bill the couple, as they were not citizens. Six months later, an invoice arrived for $220. Paretsky expresses one minor reservation about what she sees as a nearly perfect health-care system: the hospital staff’s behavior was more bureaucratic than cheerful. She concludes, however, that this is a small price to pay for excellent health care at an unbeatable price: “I might put up with a lot of ugly bureaucrats for that.”
What she doesn’t realize is that the French, too, would love to have such a system. Paretsky’s adventure is a parable based on a false assumption: that health care can be public, reliable, and free. It may indeed seem free, or close to free, for an American tourist receiving treatment in an emergency; as a French taxpayer, however, I paid a heavy price for Paretsky’s husband’s treatment. And you, my American reader, did too.
How much? France’s costly national health insurance is mostly financed by taxes on labor. A Frenchman making a monthly salary of 3,000 euros will pay approximately 350 of them (deducted by his employer) for health insurance. Then the employer will add approximately 1,200 euros, making the total monthly cost to the employer of this individual’s services not 3,000 euros but 4,200. High labor costs in France affect not only consumer prices but also unemployment rates, since employers are reluctant to pay so much for low-skill workers. Economists agree that unemployment rates and the cost of national health insurance are directly related everywhere, which partly explains why even in periods of economic growth, the average French unemployment rate hovers around 10 percent.
High as they are, taxes on wages are not enough to cover the constant deficits that national health insurance runs. France imposes an additional levy to try to close the insurance deficit—the CSG (contribution sociale généralisée)—which applies to all income, including dividends, and which Parliament increases every year. Altogether, 25 percent of French national income goes toward what’s called Social Security, which includes health care and basic retirement pensions for all.
French national health insurance is also subsidized by American patients. This is because France decides which drugs to use and at what prices; American pharmaceutical companies must either accept the dictated prices or lose an enormous market. The companies therefore sell their medicines at higher prices in the U.S. in order to cover their expenses and turn a profit; the surplus is then sold cheaply to the French, who take the same pills as Americans but at half the price or less.
In the end, who paid for Paretsky’s husband’s nearly free ride in a French hospital? French workers and taxpayers; American patients; and the young, unqualified, and out-of-work French unable to find jobs because of the unemployment that national health insurance engenders. There is no such thing, anywhere, as a perfect health-insurance system. It’s always a trade-off among competing goods, and the choices to be made are ultimately political ones. Americans commenting on health-care reform should try to make the costs and consequences of these choices transparent, rather than resorting to misleading morality plays.
And where does the “potential to exist” originate? Cool video, thoough.
New York Post:
Rep. Charlie Rangel’s multimillion-dol lar “oops” this month raises plenty of good questions, but this may be the best: How can Democrats continue to close their eyes to such sleaze?
And, more to the point, this: Will prose cutors follow up on any of it?
Rangel’s “corrections” to his financial-disclosure statements from 2002 through 2007 are stunning, even by the low standards of this “error”-prone paperwork-filer — who, by the way, happens to be in charge of writing the nation’s tax laws.
The Harlem Dem now admits that he failed to disclose several million dollars in income and business deals during those years — including up to $1 million from the sale of a building on 132nd Street.
How could that happen?
Charlie won’t say.
Even stranger, city records show that Rangel still owns the building.
How can that be, if Rangel sold it, as he now claims? Maybe the records are wrong, but Charlie’s not talking.
There are adjustments — as much as $780,000 — in the value of his assets:
* An “omitted” checking account valued between $250,000 to $500,000.
* Another fund worth up to $100,000.
* Unreported investment portfolios said to be between $15,000 and $50,000.
The unreported business deals total a jaw-dropping $3 million. Huh?
So what explains all this?
Yup: Charlie’s lips are zipped.
Absent anything dispositive, the best that can be assumed is that the nation’s tax-writer-in-chief is sloppy, careless — dare we say, incompetent? — beyond all possible credibility.
That’s bad enough. But given his mile-long record of “lapses” — even before these latest “oversights” — the public is left to wonder: What is Rangel hiding?
Remember, none of this would have come to light at all had the Sunday Post not broken the story, almost exactly a year ago, about his failure to disclose — and pay tax on — some $75,000 in rental income from his Caribbean villa.
Then followed revelations about his: (more…)
Democratic Rep. Betsy Markey gave credence to seniors’ worries with this comment at a Colorado town hall Wednesday:
“There’s going to be some people who are going to have to give up some things, honestly, for all of this to work,” Markey said at a Congress on Your Corner event at CSU. “But we have to do this because we’re Americans.”
While reminiscent of Joe Biden’s famously politically astute “higher taxes are patriotic” line, I’m not sure how well this is going to go over with Obamacare skeptics, particularly of the senior variety.
It will make them wonder how much of the idea of cutting Medicare benefits is really a “myth,” as the president says:
THE PRESIDENT: Well, first of all, another myth that we’ve been hearing about is this notion that somehow we’re going to be cutting your Medicare benefits. We are not. AARP would not be endorsing a bill if it was undermining Medicare, okay? So I just want seniors to be clear about this, because if you look at the polling, it turns out seniors are the ones who are most worried about health care reform. And that’s understandable, because they use a lot of care, they’ve got Medicare, and it’s already hard for a lot of people even on Medicare because of the supplements and all the other costs out of pocket that they’re still paying.
So I just want to assure we’re not talking about cutting Medicare benefits. We are talking about making Medicare more efficient, eliminating the insurance subsidies, working with hospitals so that they are changing some of the reimbursement practices.
Can Obama really blame seniors for being suspicious about whether cutting waste in Medicare (which I’m in favor of) means cutting benefits? After all, Democrats have been dedicated to the demagoguery of just that equation whenever cutting costs has come up in the past.
“Because we’re Americans?” That’s an argument?
After spending weeks dogging George W. Bush’s presidential vacations, anti-war protester Cindy Sheehan is now trying to make life uncomfortable for President Barack Obama.Sheehan used to pitch a peace camp near Bush’s ranch in Crawford, Texas, becoming a symbol of the anti-war movement after her son Casey died in action in Iraq.
On Thursday, she and a band of anti-war protesters turned up outside the media center used by journalists covering Obama’s vacation on the well-heeled east coast resort island of Martha’s Vineyard.
“The reason I am here is because … even though the facade has changed in Washington DC, the policies are still the same,” Sheehan told a handful of journalists, against a backdrop of her “Camp Casey” banner.
Does Maureen Dowd still believe Cindy has absolute moral authority.
Germans try to enliven their dull election campaign with humor. “Yes We Can” becomes Yes, Weekend.
Germany’s election campaign is being livened up by satirical pledges to rebuild the Berlin Wall, send pensioners to the east, provide free cosmetic surgery for everyone and install a rabbit as the national symbol. Humor is urgently needed at this time of political torpor, comedians say.
Germany has been at pains to keep its politics as dull as possible since 1945, understandably so, some might say. Consensus and compromise prevail, and the scandals tend to be too complicated or too trivial to keep casual observers interested for long.
It has gotten worse in the last four years. Political debate has been stifled as the two main parties, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives and the rival center-left Social Democrats, have been locked in an awkward coalition in which they’ve had to shelve their differences.
What Germany’s political scene needs now more than ever is a refreshing injection of satire, or at least humor, and tentative attempts are underway to meet that need.
A bona fide party called Die Partei (The Party) is campaigning with a satirical program to rebuild the Berlin Wall, turn eastern Germany into a nature reserve and populate it with the nation’s pensioners.
And one of the country’s best-known comedians, Hape Kerkeling, has formed his own mock party that’s “conservative, liberal, left-wing and a bit ecological” and pledges to provide free cosmetic surgery for everyone.
Bunny to Replace German Eagle
Its catchphrase, possibly based on a misunderstanding of Barack Obama’s famous slogan, is “Yes, Weekend.” And it wants to abolish the eagle as the national symbol and replace it with the “Federal Rabbit.”
The media, desperate for a bit of light relief during what has so far been a downright boring election, pounced on Kerkeling’s campaign. His news conference in Berlin on Tuesday to launch a mock-documentary style feature film about his candidacy attracted the kind of attention usually reserved for Merkel — news channel n-tv carried it live, and some 100 reporters unwittingly became extras in his PR coup, feeding him questions and lapping up his jokes.
What about swine flu, Kerkeling, posing as his alter ego Horst Schlämmer with hideous false teeth, gray wig and a dirty trenchcoat, was asked. “I’m against it,” he replied.
Other nuggets followed. His first foreign trip as chancellor will be to the Netherlands because that’s just across the border from his home in the small town of Grevenbroich, which will incidentally become the new capital. He also had a message for the youth of today: “Children are our future.”
…if you want to get a feel for what it was like to argue about angels and pinheads in medieval times, you could always just try start an argument about what the term liberalism means. Libertarians and paleocons will fight you for the right to it, in its original incarnation as a belief in human freedom. And plenty will tell you it’s an epithet, standing for naught but statism and economic redistribution.
But Ted Kennedy claimed the term for himself, always wore it proudly, and defended it even after most Democrats had tried escaping it. So perhaps we can say that, to a remarkable degree, modern liberalism was whatever Ted Kennedy said it was and however he stood on the issues. He certainly leaves no fellow politician behind who Americans would both recognize and describe as a liberal. The last Democratic nominee who would have been comfortable describing himself as a liberal was probably George McGovern and most of the remaining liberals in Congress are intentionally kept out of the limelight. Nancy Pelosi is probably the closest thing he has to an heir, but House Speakers are fairly anonymous. No, Teddy was it. All that “last liberal lion” is more true than not.
So when we look at his public record we can learn wider lessons about modern liberalism. What that record teaches us is that there are pronounced inconsistencies to liberalism such that it can barely be considered a political philosophy, inconsistencies so drastic that we can see why it failed to stand the test of time.
Had Mr. Kennedy done nothing else in his career, he would justly be remembered as a great American for his work on the Immigration Act and the Voting Rights Act when he first got to the Senate in 1965. These two bills helped to undo the ugliest sort of institutionalized racism that had persisted in America for forty years in the one case and a hundred in the other. In cases like this, he really was a classic kind of liberal, seeking to lift the boot of government off of the neck of discrete groups of Americans who were being treated unfairly because of what they were, not being judged on the basis of who they were. Here he appealed to the very best in the American people, with the demand that we recognize that all men are created equal and are thereby endowed with equal rights.
However, the Senator and liberalism soon went beyond this basic and quintessentially American idealism and–in the form of programs like affirmative action, Title IX funding, hate crimes legislation, pay equity, and the like–insisted on pretty much the exact opposite, that people be treated differently solely on the basis of what they were. Where the original civil rights laws were able to win society wide support because they said that you should not be forbidden to vote or denied access to a public restroom just because you were black, the liberals now claimed that you were entitled to a job or admission to college or whatever if you were black and your competition was white. Standing the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. on his head, Americans were to be judged on the color of the skin or on their gender. Unsurprisingly, this round of the “civil rights” fight proved to be far more divisive, to the point that it is unresolved today but the trend appears to be towards phasing out the special pleadings Kennedy and company depended on. And the fight would have already been decided against liberalism if public opinion prevailed, rather than court rulings.
Nor was the movement from anti-discrimination to “positive discrimination” the most contradictory stance of Ted Kennedy and liberalism. Far more difficult to accept and disastrous for society was the embrace of abortion. Despite the teachings of the Church to which he putatively remained devoted and despite an oft-stated concern with the weakest members of society, Mr. Kennedy became a devoted proponent for and defender of unlimited abortion (including partial birth abortion), which has seen the killing of tens of millions of American babies, and for federal funding of fetal tissue research. Not only did this aspect of liberal politics dehumanize the most vulnerable, it had its origins in racism and eugenics as Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg recently reminded everyone:
“Frankly I had thought that at the time Roe was decided, there was concern about population growth and particularly growth in populations that we don’t want to have too many of. So that Roe was going to be then set up for Medicaid funding for abortion. Which some people felt would risk coercing women into having abortions when they didn’t really want them.”
The attempt by Kennedy and company to cast abortion as a women’s rights issue has always smacked of an attempt to cast slavery as a property rights question. And the callous disregard for human life is so at odds with the rest of what liberalism claims to, and often does, stand for that it has tended to drown out much of the rest of the message. It is no coincidence that liberalism, which was already struggling by the early 1970s, has been in steady decline since Roe v. Wade. It is ultimately just not possible to reconcile the claims that you are “progressive” and humanist but that there can be no limits on abortion. Here again, liberalism went to war with itself.
Public health officials are considering promoting routine circumcision for all baby boys born in the United States to reduce the spread of H.I.V., the virus that causes AIDS.
As opposed to say, closing down gay bath houses where the fellas are riding bareback.
The topic is a delicate one that has already generated controversy, even though a formal draft of the proposed recommendations, due out from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention by the end of the year, has yet to be released.
Experts are also considering whether the surgery should be offered to adult heterosexual men whose sexual practices put them at high risk of infection. But they acknowledge that a circumcision drive in the United States would be unlikely to have a drastic impact: the procedure does not seem to protect those at greatest risk here, men who have sex with men.
Recently, studies showed that in African countries hit hard by AIDS, men who were circumcised reduced their infection risk by half. But the clinical trials in Africa focused on heterosexual men who are at risk of getting H.I.V. from infected female partners.
For now, the focus of public health officials in this country appears to be on making recommendations for newborns, a prevention strategy that would only pay off many years from now. Critics say it subjects baby boys to medically unnecessary surgery without their consent.
But Dr. Peter Kilmarx, chief of epidemiology for the division of H.I.V./AIDS prevention at the C.D.C., said that any step that could thwart the spread of H.I.V. must be given serious consideration.
…written by the late Michael Kelly, published in 1990 as part of GQ’s 50th anniversary.
Edward Kennedy was once the handsomest of the handsome Kennedy boys, with a proudly jutting chin, a Nelson Eddy jaw and Cupid’s-bow lips under a thatch of chestnut hair. When he is dieting and on the wagon, there is a glimpse of that still, which makes it all the harder to see him as he more often is. There is a great desire to remember him as we remember his brothers.
The Dorian Grays of Hyannis Port, John and Robert, have perpetual youth and beauty and style, and their faces are mirrors of all that is better and classier and richer than us. Ted is the reality, the 57-year-old living picture of a man who has feasted on too much for too long with too little restraint, the visible proof that nothing exceeds like excess.
It’s a long piece, partly critical and partly praising. Some of the former here, with a cameo by Christopher Dodd.
…The two most infamous Terrible Teddy stories make the point. Both take place at Washington’s La Brasserie, where Kennedy is a favorite customer.
Brasserie I: In December 1985, just before he announced he would run for president in 1988, Kennedy allegedly manhandled a pretty young woman employed as a Brasserie waitress. The woman, Carla Gaviglio, declined to be quoted in this article, but says the following account, a similar version of which first appeared in Penthouse last year, is full and accurate:
It is after midnight and Kennedy and Dodd are just finishing up a long dinner in a private room on the first floor of the restaurant’s annex. They are drunk. Their dates, two very young blondes, leave the table to go to the bathroom. (The dates are drunk too. “They’d always get their girls very, very drunk,” says a former Brasserie waitress.) Betty Loh, who served the foursome, also leaves the room. Raymond Campet, the co-owner of La Brasserie, tells Gaviglio the senators want to see her.
As Gaviglio enters the room, the six-foot-two, 225-plus-pound Kennedy grabs the five-foot-three, 103-pound waitress and throws her on the table. She lands on her back, scattering crystal, plates and cutlery and the lit candles. Several glasses and a crystal candlestick are broken. Kennedy then picks her up from the table and throws her on Dodd, who is sprawled in a chair. With Gaviglio on Dodd’s lap, Kennedy jumps on top and begins rubbing his genital area against hers, supporting his weight on the arms of the chair. As he is doing this, Loh enters the room. She and Gaviglio both scream, drawing one or two dishwashers. Startled, Kennedy leaps up. He laughs. Bruised, shaken and angry over what she considered a sexual assault, Gaviglio runs from the room. Kennedy, Dodd and their dates leave shortly thereafter, following a friendly argument between the senators over the check.
Eyewitness Betty Loh told me that Kennedy had “three or four” cocktails in his first half hour at the restaurant and wine with dinner. When she walked into the room after Gaviglio had gone in, she says, “what I saw was Senator Kennedy on top of Carla, who was on top of Senator Dodd’s lap, and the tablecloth was sort of slid off the table ‘cause the table was knocked over—not completely, but just on Senator Dodd’s lap a little bit, and of course the glasses and the candlesticks were totally spilled and everything. And right when I walked in, Senator Kelly jumped off…and he leaped up, composed himself and got up. And Carla jumped up and ran out of the room.”