43rd Anniversary: What if Chappaquiddick Never Happened?

On this date in 1969, a car driven by Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA) plunged off a bridge on Chappaquiddick Island near Martha’s Vineyard. Kennedy’s 28 year old passenger Mary Jo Kopechne died by drowning.
The Senator waited 10 hours before reporting the accident, but was never able to give a convincing explanation of his strange behavior. His license was suspended for six months. At the time of the incident, Kennedy was the nation’s most prominent potential Democratic presidential candidate.
If it had not happened, he may have still passed on a 1972 campaign against President Richard Nixon. He was only 40 that year. 1976 would have been a more realistic time for him, and it was an excellent year for Democrats.
When he did try to deny Jimmy Carter’s 1980 renomination, the Chappaquiddick incident haunted him and helped destroyed his chances. Writing in his book “True Compass,” which was published a week after his death, Kennedy described his actions as “inexcusable” and said that at the time he was afraid, overwhelmed “and made terrible decisions.”
Kennedy said he had to live with the guilt of his actions for four decades but that Miss Kopechne’s family had to endure far worse. “Atonement is a process that never ends,” he wrote.
The news media was relatively easy on Kennedy in 1969, and he was not forced to answer many difficult questions. That would not be allowed today. Kennedy’s popularity obviously declined, but even after Chappaquiddick, he still had a 58% approval rating in 1969, and was easily reelected in 1970

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July 4th is Busiest Day for USS Constitution

This is the busiest day of the year for the USS Constitution. It was authorized in 1794 as one of the original six Navy frigates, and was expected to have a service life of ten to fifteen years. It is still in commission today.
The frigate has 44 guns and was granted its name by President George Washington. Its 1797 launching ceremony was attended by President John Adams.
America’s founders were not isolationists and President Thomas Jefferson dispatched the ship to battle the Barbary pirates (the terrorists of that era) in Tripoli Harbor. President James Madison sent the ship back into battle during the War of 1812.
The British burned the White House and the U.S. Capitol, but the Constitution helped turned the tide. It earned the nickname “Old Ironsides” when it defeated five British ships. It had 13 cannonballs implanted in its hull, but none made it through.
The Constitution’s victory prompted the British Admiralty to order its frigates not to engage the heavier American ships one-on-one. There was a tremendous celebration when the triumphant Constitution returned to Boston where it was built and remains today.
For the United States Bicentennial celebration in 1976, the Constitution led the parade of tall ships in Boston Harbor, firing her guns at one-minute intervals for the first time in a century. She rendered a 21-gun salute to the Royal Yacht Britannia as Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip arrived for a state visit. Her Majesty and His Royal Highness were then piped aboard.
The ship is open to the public and is berthed at Pier 1 of the former Charlestown Navy Yard, at the end of Boston’s Freedom Trail.

The Great Historical Trivia Quiz

 

QUESTION: Why are two rifles mounted on the wall of the Massachusetts State Senate chamber? Where did the American Revolution begin?

ANSWER: The rifles belonged to Captain John Parker who commanded the 80 man militia during the Battle of Lexington on April 19, 1775. The night before, over 800 British soldiers were on their way to Concord to search for weapons.
Parker and his men were alerted by the midnight ride of Paul Revere. Around 1 am, Revere arrived at the house of Rev. Jonas Clarke in Lexington where John Hancock and Sam Adams were staying.
The British had arrest warrants for both of them. The redcoats had to pass through Lexington where Parker’s men were waiting at 5 am.
This statue honoring him is on the Lexington Green where he said, “Stand your ground. Don’t fire unless fired upon, but if they mean to have a war, let it begin here.”
We do not know how the battle began but it was the first shot that finally brought Crown and Colonies into open and continuous conflict. There would be no peace until America had won its independence. Parker survived that day but eight militia men were killed and ten wounded.
One of the dead was his cousin Jonas Parker who was killed by a British bayonet. Parker, 46, was the father of seven children and later participated in the Siege of Boston. He was too ill to join his men in the Battle of Bunker Hill, and on September 17th, 1775, just five months after the stand at Lexington, he died of tuberculosis.
Historians are divided and some say the Revolutionary War began on Lexington Green while others maintain it was Bunker Hill.

The Government Shut Down: We Need Another Daniel Webster

This note was written in 1996. Ted Kennedy's brother John F. Kennedy devoted a chapter to Webster in "Profiles in Courage." JFK also chaired the committee which selected Webster as one of the five greatest Senators of all time. The other Senators were Henry Clay (KY), John C. Calhoun (SC), Robert LaFollette (WI) and Robert Taft (OH). Their portraits are on display in the Senate Reception Room.


The major issue on Capitol Hill this week is Friday’s expiration of the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling. If the debt is not cut or the ceiling raised, the government would have to be shut down on March 4th. The situation is similar to the 1995 confrontation between President Clinton and Speaker Gingrich when the government was shut down twice. Continue reading

John Quincy Adams: A Gentleman Would Not Campaign for President

"The Adams Chronicles" was a 1976 Emmy award winning series which covered 150 years of family history. This episode portrayed the future first family at the beginning of the American Revolution in 1776. Back row, John Quincy Adams, Abigail Adams II, First Lady Abigail Adams. Front row, Thomas Adams, President John Adams and Charles Adams.


John Quincy Adams was intent on being President of the United States in 1822. At work he focused on what would become known as the “Monroe Doctrine.” It would be named after President James Monroe, but it was Adams idea. The election was two years away but Adams fretted because few people were coming forward in support of his candidacy. Continue reading

Financial Reform: Senator Scott Brown (R-MA) Angers Conservatives

Senators Scott Brown (R-MA) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME) both endorsed the Dodd/Frank Financial Reform Act yesterday. Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) was already supporting the bill, and the backing of three Republicans will give Democrats the 60 votes they need. The White House describes this bill as their top legislative priority.
Only 51 votes are needed for passage, but 60 votes are necessary to stop a GOP filibuster. The vote will be held this week, and Democrats will not have to wait for the appointment of a successor to the late Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV).
What is Happening on Capitol Hill?
The legislation has already been approved by the House of Representatives. Four GOP Senators supported the bill when it was first considered in May, but in recent weeks Brown and Snowe had balked at revisions made by the joint House-Senate committee. Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA) also voted for the bill the first time but is now undecided. He will not vote to cut off debate.
Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) voted no the last time but has since changed her position. Cantwell’s colleague Patty Murray (D-WA) faces defeat this November and the frontrunning Republican opposes Dodd/Frank. He had been saying he agreed with Cantwell and that put Senator Murray in an awkward position.
Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE), who received the “Cornhusker Kickback” on health care reform, is once again threatening to change his vote. He was in favor of the bill the first time but now says Nebraska banks are concerned because the new regulations have not been written.
If Nelson does bolt, Democrats will have to wait for Byrd’s replacement which could come as early as Friday. Liberal Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) will be voting with the Republicans, and he did so the last time.
What is the Purpose of the Legislation?
Chairman Barney Frank (D-MA) of House Banking Committee says the major purpose is to rein in the use of complex financial securities known as derivatives. The legislation would create two new agencies to oversee hedge funds, credit-rating agencies and mortgage firms.
Frank says the bill is necessary because these institutions are not covered by current laws. The bill gives the government authority to seize teetering financial firms.
What Has Senator Brown Accomplished?
Brown was able to demand that Democrats drop their planned $19 billion tax on banks and large financial firms. Brown said the banks would increase fees, and this would be a back door tax increase. Brown was also successful in having the Democrats agree to an early end of TARP (the Toxic Asset Recovery Program).
Brown was included in Time magazine’s recent list of the”100 Most Powerful People,” and the Boston Globe’s annual survey indicates he is the most popular politician in the Bay state. He personally conducted negotiations on financial reform with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.
How Did Senator Brown Explain His Position?
The Senator told reporters yesterday:

While it isn’t perfect, I expect to support the bill when it comes up for a vote. It includes safeguards to help prevent another financial meltdown, ensures that consumers are protected, and it is paid for without new taxes. That doesn’t mean our work is done. Further reforms are still needed to address the government’s role in the financial crisis, including significant changes to the way Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac operate. . . A lot of folks say we shouldn’t do anything. Well, I disagree. I think we should do something.

Is Brown a Conservative?
The Senator describes himself as a moderate conservative. In his speech last January on the night he won a dramatic upset victory to claim the seat of the late Ted Kennedy (D-MA), Brown said he would not always vote with Republicans.
He has made several campaign appearances on behalf of Republicans and his major theme is that a trillion dollars in stimulus spending has still not created one new permanent job. Brown angered liberals by voting against the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (gays in the military) and says he is against the extension of unemployment benefits.
What Groups are in Opposition to the Financial Reform Bill?
While conservatives are certainly opposed to the Dodd/Frank bill, opposition is not limited to the right wing and includes:
Independent Community Bankers of America.
National Association of Home Builders
American Bankers Association
The Financial Services Roundtable
American Council of Life Insurers
Financial Services Forum
J.P. Morgan
US Chamber of Commerce
National Auto Dealers Association
Why Are Conservatives Opposed to the Dodd/Frank Bill?
Conservatives say the result of Dodd/Frank will be adverse changes to the nations financial system, and increased costs. They noted both higher ATM fees and the end of free checking as banks pass on the costs of new regulations.
Anticipating the passage of Dodd/Frank, Wells Fargo has just eliminated it’s free checking account program. Other banks may now follow suit.
Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), the Minority Leader, says the bill “will guarantee perpetual taxpayer bailout of Wall Street banks,” and expressed concerns about the $50 billion fund to help finance forced liquidations.
Sen. Richard Shelby (AL), the ranking Republican on the Banking Committee, says the bill:

Reinforces the expectation that the government stands ready to intervene on behalf of large and politically connected financial institutions at the expense of Main Street firms and the American taxpayer. Therefore, the bill institutionalizes ‘too big to fail.’
This is the exact same model that led us to the crisis in the first place, except for one distinct difference. The government bailout is built in from the beginning through the use of taxpayer guarantees.
The American people are being misled. The authors of this bill are telling them that this legislation has been drafted to address the recent financial crisis and that it will ‘tame’ Wall Street. . . behind the veil of anti-Wall Street rhetoric is an unrelenting desire to manage every facet of commerce under the guise of consumer protection.

Many GOP lawmakers noted that a fund to bail out creditors of large firms only encourages them to increase in size. This is similar to what happened with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. They were viewed as being protected by the government.
Other lawmakers are asking why the bill is being passed before Congress receives recommendations from the Presidents commission studying what caused the September 2008 meltdown of the financial system.
What Has Been The Reaction to Brown’s Decision?
Senator John McCain (R-AZ) is one of many prominent GOP leaders who have expressed disappointment with Brown. Among the comments from Brown’s constituents were:

  • Dennis Bolduc: “Scott, you are just another RINO. I supported your campaign and I now regret it. I wish I had my $ 100.00 donation back.”
  • Bobby Girard: “The Senator had my support until this vote. Being a moderate Repblican should have nothing to do with voting for this particular bill. I am disappointed that thanks to the Senator this huge intrusion of government will become part of our lives.”
  • Tom Kippenberger: “Senator Brown, how can you approve of the sweeping power in the Financial Reform Bill without demanding inclusion of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae in the regulatory language? You know that these two entities were instramental in creating the mess we are currently in. You deceived the good people of Massachusetts into believing that you would be a bulwark against big government.”
  • Michael Lynn: “Scott, I do not believe you read the bill (I did). If you had, you would have found many items that are very objectionable. If you vote for this bill, you will have taken a drastically wrong turn. I donated to your election, but I will donate twice as much to your primary opponent the next time around!”

Why Was The Amendment to Audit The Federal Reserve Stripped From The Bill?
The House and Senate conferees voted to strip out language to have the General Accounting Office (GAO) audit the Federal Reserve Board. Even the Senate sponsor of the amendment, Bernie Sanders (D-VT), went along with the deletion.
The audit the fed amendment had over 300 co-sponsors in the House, but the Chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, Chris Dodd (D-CT), said the legislation was not needed and over 100 audits of the Fed had already occurred.
Chairman Dodd says Fed branches are audited annually two ways: an internal audit by permanent staff and an audit by an outside CPA firm. Dodd says the GAO already has the authority to audit the Fed, but they are not permitted to make monetary judgments. The GAO is also not permitted access to decisions the Fed makes concerning foreign central banks. This limit was set by Congress to keep the Fed independent of politics.

Saying Good Bye to Melissa, the Real RINO’s and the Republican Civil War

 

We found this poster to be highly offensive and Hitler’s image should not be used in U.S. political debates. The poster first circulated in 2004 on a Moveon.org website and it was reproduced by many liberal activists when Bush was in the White House. Until this week it was the profile photo used by Melissa Jenkins, except she switched Bush’s head shot with a photo of President Obama.
Republicans have a wide range of excellent issues to use against President Obama and liberal Democrats this year. The GOP election outlook is excellent and the only way to lose is by extremism which would drive up the GOP’s negative ratings. That is not going to happen, but we are disappointed when Republican activists go too far. We did not like it when George Bush was the victim of this comparison, and President Obama should also not be equated with Adolph Hitler.
The Hitler photo is not our only conflict with Melissa Jenkins, and our disagreement is reflective of a significant debate in GOP ranks. Melissa is a conservative, but we definitely have a different outlook. Melissa lives in Massachusetts and claims she worked diligently for Sen. Scott Brown’s (R-MA) victory in the special election. Unfortunately, she is now furious at the Massachusetts Senator because he did not vote with the GOP the first time the financial reform bill was considered.
We were also disappointed, but as we told her, Massachusetts is not Utah. There is no other Republican in the Bay State delegation. Not one Republican represents the six New England states in the House of Representatives. We believe it is far better to have a Republican who supports you 80% of the time rather than a liberal Democrat who never supports you. Melissa does not agree.
She now regrets supporting Brown and says her efforts should have been focused on the isolationist libertarian candidate. We told her a strong third party candidate could have led to the election of another liberal Democratic Senator. Her response is that it is far better to have a liberal Democrat rather than a liberal Republican. Scott Brown is a moderate conservative but Melissa now places the Senator in the same category as John Kerry and Michael Dukakis.

The Iowa Republican Civil War
We are not sorry to see Melissa go, but our exchange is worth mentioning because this debate is happening in numerous GOP circles. There are a number of Republicans who will not compromise.
We had a similar exchange this past week with Steve Rathje, a successful businessman and congressional candidate who was defeated in the recent GOP primary. In 2008, he was a candidate for the U.S. Senate, and says a moderate Republican is not better than a liberal Democrat.
We disagree and moderate conservatives are a real boost to the GOP. We told Steve that on Thursday night the House of Representatives approved “$20 billion in domestic spending add-ons”, including $10 billion in grants to school districts to avoid teacher layoffs:

It really doesn’t matter because the election of Scott Brown changed everything. The GOP is now able to filibuster, and the new spending will never pass the Senate. Speaker Pelosi’s charge card is maxed out, and after November the rollback begins. The moderate Republicans are helpful in the GOP’s deficit reduction efforts, and they are far preferable to liberal Democrats.

Steve quoted Ronald Reagan who said we needed candidates of bold colors rather than pale pastels. We should nominate conservative Republicans in Red States, but hard core conservatives have proven to be unelectable in Blue America.
Many conservatives were enthusiastic about Alan Keyes’ 2004 U.S. Senate campaign, but State Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) received 70% of the vote and the landslide helped to establish him as a national figure. We responded to Steve Rathje’s comments by saying:

Who are these terrible liberal Republicans who are forfeiting our Constitution and values? We have no idea if former Gov. Terry Branstad (R-IA) and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) are bold colors or pale pastels. They both describe themselves as conservatives. They are the choice of Iowa Republicans and they are far better than liberal Gov. Chet Culver (D-IA) and ultra-liberal Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA).
We do not always agree with Branstad and Grassley, but you are wrong to claim GOP moderates are destroying life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. We have no problem being in the same party as them, and Iowa Republicans were wise in selecting electable candidates who are a distinct contrast to the liberal Democrats.

The Iowa gubernatorial primary was held last month, and it was a reminder that GOP infighting has resulted in 12 years of Democratic governors and a Democratic legislature. What was especially ironic, is that both Republican candidates were solid conservatives.
They had no disagreement on major issues. The area in which they were divergent is that one side claimed their candidate was “biblically based,” while the other conservative (Gov. Branstad) said he was going to focus on jobs, the economy and taxes rather than social issues.
What About the RINO’s?
There are many Republicans similar to Melissa Jenkins and Steve Rathje. Their crusade is to rid the Republican Party of RINO’s (Republicans in Name Only). In the 1960s and ’70s they would have had a point.
Those were the days of Senators Jacob Javits (NY), Clifford Case (NJ), Lowell Weicker (CT), John Chafee (RI), Ed Brooke (MA), Richard Schweicker (PA), Charles McC Mathias (MD), Charles Percy (IL) and Mark Hatfield (OR). There are few liberal Republicans left today, and the moderates almost always vote with the party when they are really needed. That did not happen when the GOP encountered three defectors on the stimulus (Arlen Specter is now a Democrat), but on other close votes the moderates did not bolt.
Melissa will not acknowledge the difference between Scott Brown and John Kerry. She sees them as two peas in a pod and says: “So far voting Brown has had ZERO benefit for the Republicans. He will vote with the Democrats, he is a fool and a tool! He is completely clueless and way in over his head.” We wrote an article explaining how Brown’s election ended the Democrats 60 seat super majority and changed so many things on Capitol Hill.
Our final observation is to admire Melissa and Steve’s self proclaimed devotion to the Republican Platform. We understand why they are upset about the financial reform bill, but we are surprised Melissa assigns little importance to foreign policy, national security and international economic issues. She has no problem supporting libertarian Republicans who oppose the Patriot Act and the U.S. role in Afghanistan and Iraq. We believe the libertarians, Ron Paul and Pat Buchanan are the real RINO’s.