Farewell to the greatest Kennedy

Presidents come and go.  Hardly any of them are much good for the first four years while they are either in training or lame ducks pending re-election.  If they get a second four years then we find out if they learned anything.   Then they quit and go on speaking tours- when they really ought to be running for the Senate so that what they learned isn’t lost.
 
Presidents have to delegate.  Their success is going to be largely measured by their skill in getting key people in key positions. 
 
The thing that I will remember Ted Kennedy most for was when Reagan was arguing for a line veto, and Kennedy said that Reagan was absolutely right.   Some idiots mounted a challenge to the line veto on constitutional grounds (another reason to hate Guiliani) after a line veto law was finally passed in 1996- one of the cases where I think that the US Supreme Court was clearly wrong in finding the law unconstitutional.   Congress has been in effect given the right to veto the presidents veto power by including vast numbers of issues under omnibus bills so that a president can’t veto certain bills without paralysing the country.   That said, now that the court has ruled a constitutional amendment is necessary and that is the most important constitutional amendment needed for a country that is financially sinking.  Usually people talk about constitutional amendments in the context of histrionic issues such as abortion, but in modern politics it is often forgotten that what is mundane can also be necessary.
 
The career path of presidents tends to stunt their growth and limit effectiveness.  It involves being a gloryhound and only addressing issues that can readily be expressed in sound bites. 
 
The key to greatness as a dealmaker is as with the line veto issue above- it isn’t the ability to argue your case passionately, it is the ability to have a keen ear so that you are able to pick up when somebody has a legitimate point.   It is not the same thing as abandoning a position from pure expediency like a McCain or Lieberman.  The wrong type of bipartisanship can be even more repulsive than holding an extreme viewpoint, accepting or abandoning positions without any regard to whether they are right or wrong for self promotion at the expense of the public interest in the long run.  The right type of bipartisanship is about principle and standing for principle fearlessly and if you are right you will win in time. 
 
 
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Libyan released

Mr. Megrahi was released recently on compassionate grounds.   He had always maintained his innocence. 
 
He was convicted solely on the basis of identification in a lineup after the person identifying him, a shopkeeper from Malta who would have had no reason to remember his face, saw a picture of Mr. Megrahi in a publication suggesting that he was involved.   Said shopkeeper is also alleged to have received a substantial payment for his identification.
 
If Mr. Megrahi were involved in the Lockerbie bombing, his early release for any reason would be preposterous. 
 
With his release prior to a review of his case for a miscarriage of justice, his release may have been deemed as the lesser of two evils by the establishment.  The review of his conviction will likely be dropped as moot.   I’m not at all convinced that it was he that got the better end of the bargain with the release.  The evidence for the conviction looks appallingly weak and I see his release as the authorities in effect conceding that there was a wrongful, or at least meritless, conviction. 
 
Mr. Megrahi when he was in Libya before served as a useful poster-boy for justifying certain diplomatic actions including sanctions against Libya.  Most people (including me) were surprised that Libya turned him over.  When they did so, the western authorities were in the embarassing position of having to prosecute him.  Libya may have been depending on the duty of the western courts to acquit Mr. Megrahi. 
 
International gamesmanship took on a life of its own in this case.  Mr. Megrahi’s photograph was already being published in connection with the bombing even before the only evidence connecting him to it was manufactured. 
 
There was a break in at the baggage holding area of the London airport from which the doomed plane took off that was inadequately investigated.  Even without that knowledge, baggage handlers ought to be looked at first in any such case- when we hear about airport smuggling rings, and see the scale on which baggage theft by employees is tolerated by authorities at airports, one has to wonder how difficult it would be to get something else in to luggage and on a plane.  That is a gaping hole in security.
 
As with most wrongful convictions, the conviction of somebody that is likely innocent and the resulting time delay may make it impossible to form a case against anybody else.   Unless there is an overlooked fingerprint or something else already processed but missed, the case will likely dead end unless somebody involved starts talking. 
 
I also question the motivation.   Generically referring to Libya as a supporter of terrorists is unhelpful.  Libya isn’t known for bombing random planes.   Bombing a random plane over Scotland doesn’t send any message or serve any purpose.   Probably half the arab world hasn’t even heard of Scotland.  Libya accepted responsibility 2003 and paid out compensation "for the actions of its officials" in return for having certain economic sanctions removed.   They had probably concluded by that time that the west didn’t care if they were actually involved or not and were tired of the sanctions.  Economic coercion makes the half hearted confession unreliable, as with any coerced confession. 
 
This case brings to mind the Oklahoma bombing, where the initial media and political frenzy was about the possibility of arab terrorists trying to show that they could hit any time, any where, which was a great adaptation from a certain B movie script but didn’t make any sense in terms of profiling and motivations, because that type of terrorist chooses symbolic targets.   A federal building in Oklahoma has symbolism for right wing, anti-government gun nuts, not for arabs, and I thought that a right wing nutbar did that bombing from the outset.  
 
The IRA would have the most obvious motive; on the other hand the presence of several American agents on the flight from the Beirut area is interesting.  I don’t expect that unsophisticated terrorists would have had any way of knowing the latter fact though. 
 
 
 
The result is that the