Saturday, June 15, 2013

Life After Politics

Former Connecticut U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman has shown that there is life after politics.

The usual route for departing Beltway politicians is to associate themselves with a large law firm in some lobbying or quasi-lobbying capacity, thereby softening for the clients of the firm the burdensome laws and regulations they had so assiduously created as congressman.

Former U.S. Senator Chis Dodd managed to escape the mold somewhat when, after having left the Congress, he hitched his star to Hollywood. The author of the imponderable Dodd-Frank bill, so compendious that we still don’t know “what’s in it,” to borrow a phrase from Mr. Dodd’s compatriot in Congress, former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Dodd is now busily engaged in attempting to convince his former associates to do something – anything! – about Chinese violations of U.S. copyright laws. Since former President Richard Nixon first touched glasses with mass murderer Chairman Mao Zedong in Beijing in 1972, the Chinese have busied themselves by stealing American technology and hacking into pretty much any business in the United States that may survive the Dodd-Frank boa constrictor.

Mr. Lieberman’s route is the more traditional one. After bidding goodbye to a Senate that has over the years become much less civil than it was when Mr. Lieberman first entered it from his position as Attorney General of Connecticut, a pathway also followed by U.S. Senator Dick Blumenthal, Mr. Lieberman has added his senatorial luster to Kasowitz Benson Torres & Friedman, a firm that has in it 365 attorneys nationwide and is ranked 120 on the The National Law Journal's annual headcount survey.

Mr. Lieberman who, according to The Legal Times blog,  joined the firm as special council focusing on internal investigations and regulatory policy, has carried along with him Clarine Nardi Riddle,  who has joined the same firm as counsel and will lead its government affairs practice. Ms. Riddle served as a Judge of the Connecticut Superior Court, Connecticut’s trial court of general jurisdiction, where she presided over cases involving criminal, foreclosure, zoning, juvenile, and residential and commercial housing matters. Ms. Riddle was also an Attorney General in Connecticut from 1989 to 1991 and has been for many years Chief of Staff for former Senator Lieberman. She co-founded No Labels, an organization of Democrats, Republicans and Independents devoted to breaking partisan gridlock in Washington DC. Mr. Lieberman, denied the Democratic nomination of his state party for the U.S. Senate in 2006, handily defeated his challenger Ned Lamont in the general election and rejoined the Senate as an Independent. Mr. Lieberman announced his resignation at the end of his term. He was succeeded by Chris Murphy, who has shown himself to be much more progressive and far more partisan than Mr. Lieberman.

Not that progressive Democrats in Connecticut have much to worry about; the Republican Party in the state has been effectively marginalized and the state’s left of center media tends to make a fuss only when one of its own prized concerns is roughed up in the back ally of Democratic partisan politics.

Freedom of information appears to have taken a hit recently; in the absence of effective Republican oversight in the General Assembly, some few legislative rats infested last-minute General Assembly bills; in a frantic effort to balance a chronically out of balanced budget fashioned in the partisan smithy of the Governor Dannel Malloy SEBAC combine, the General Assembly has legalized Keno, causing one left of center commentator to comment caustically: “We're all used to what they laughably call a process: Any time they want to do something repugnant, they blow off their rule book, slam the door on anyone who might fuss and pass some abomination before it can get press coverage. The Republican minority, most of the time, is an agreeable Vichy regime.”

But these are easily ignored inconvenient and temporary eruptions. No one within the one party state is much interested in backward looking grumblers who may impede the forward inevitable march of history. Bill Buckley’s war whoop that it is the business of lovers of liberty to stand athwart history shouting “Stop” is but a distant  memory. Without a permanent and vigorous opposition, the present regime will continue to map Connecticut’s future. Onward to Utopia!   

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