Richard Blumenthal

Chris Powell: 'Look who's talking'

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D.-Conn.)

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D.-Conn.)

Some people are lucky in their friends while some, like Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal, are even luckier in their enemies.

No one could be luckier than Blumenthal to have President Trump as an enemy. For in denouncing Blumenthal the other day for the senator's opposition to Judge Brett Kavanaugh's nomination to the Supreme Court, the president managed to change the subject from Blumenthal's posturing and hypocrisy to his own recklessness.

Blumenthal, the president said, lied about serving with the Marines in Vietnam. Not only that, the president said, but the senator had described himself as a war hero who had distinguished himself at Da Nang.

Huh? Yes, many years ago Blumenthal sometimes falsely asserted or implied that he had served in Vietnam. He actually spent the war years stateside in the Marine Reserves and the only campaign he participated in was for Toys for Tots. But he does not seem ever to have claimed any heroism. Trump made that part up as much as Blumenthal made up his service in Vietnam.

Confronted with documentation of his false claims of Vietnam service as he ran for the Senate in 2010, Blumenthal acknowledged that he repeatedly had "misspoken" -- Democratese for "lied." He apologized and got away with it, in part because his Republican opponent, Linda McMahon, wasn't a war hero either but just a rich dilettante who had made her money from what was more or less pornography.

So with his wild exaggeration about Blumenthal, Trump, whose only Vietnam-era campaign was against the bone spurs that got him out of the draft, neutered what otherwise might have been fair comment about the senator.

Trump is Trump and criticism of his character can get tedious. Anyone who is not already distressed by it probably never will be.

But Blumenthal remains largely respected, especially in Connecticut, so there still may be value in evaluating his character. His participation in the Senate Judiciary Committee's hearing on Kavanaugh last week suggested that Blumenthal might benefit from more self-awareness and less self-regard.

Piling on Kavanaugh with the other Democratic senators trying to undermine the nominee's credibility, Blumenthal seemed to forget his own shortcomings. He asked if Kavanaugh knew a legal maxim in Latin, "Falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus," or "False in one thing, false in everything." Kavanaugh was not yet as riled up as he would become under questioning about his partiality for beer, so he let Blumenthal's Latinized insult pass.

But some people watching the hearing on television grasped the irony of Blumenthal's questioning anyone else's honesty. Soon someone produced a photograph of U.S. soldiers plodding through a rice paddy in Vietnam, with Blumenthal's face superimposed on the soldier in front. The caption: "False in one thing, false in everything."

The photo was merrily distributed throughout the country.

Of course, most of Connecticut's news organizations took Blumenthal's side against Trump's mockery, as if there aren't always plenty of news organizations reminding the country of the president's indifference to truth. Once again Blumenthal is getting off easy back home.

So if only Kavanaugh had taken a little less law (and beer) and a little more Latin at Yale. Then he might have responded to Blumenthal's "Falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus" with a telling rejoinder: Respice quis loquentes suus.

That is: Look who's talking.

Chris Powell is a columnist for the Journal Inquirer, in Manchester, Conn.

Don Pesci: Democratic kooks consider court-packing


In “History’s Bad Ideas Are an Inspiration for Progressives,”  historian and columnist Victor Davis Hanson examines the dark side of progressivism.

Stymied by a Supreme Court that was a bit too traditionalist for his tastes – that is to say, a high court that faithfully interpreted the laws with reference to a real rather than a fictitious “living Constitution” --   President Franklin Roosevelt, Hanson notes, tried in 1937 to pack the court. His “convoluted proposal would have allowed Roosevelt to select a new—and additional justice—to the Supreme Court for every sitting judge who had reached 70 years, 6 months, and had not retired. And in theory, he could pack on 6 more judges, creating a 15-member court with a progressive majority.”

The effort to compromise the independence of the court by packing it with progressive judges failed ignominiously, in large part because the media of the day were constitutionally literate. Since then, the American media have declined. With the help of half-mad French philosophers, the American media have been convinced that any institution not born yesterday is hopelessly recherché. Texts, including the solid propositions of our founding documents, are to be wretched from their contexts and reformulated to satisfy the revolutionary ambitions of fake philosophers and politicians.

Faced today with a president considerably more conservative than his predecessor, the kook wing of the Democratic Party once again is considering court-packing. Donald Trump has nominated two Supreme Court justices viewed by progressive extremists as intolerably conservative. In fact, Neil Gorsuch, who has been approved, and Brett Kavanaugh, awaiting approval, are constitutional originalists in the manner of the late Justice Antonin Scalia. Kavanaugh, Trump’s most recent nominee to the high court, is viewed by many court watchers as a libertarian in the manner of Justice Anthony Kennedy, whom he will replace on the bench. The libertarian Cato Institute perhaps put it best when it described Kennedy’s jurisprudence as “a constant struggle to balance freedom and responsibility—ordered liberty, if you will."

Noting that appointments in due course occasionally disappoint those who believe that justices selected by conservative or liberal presidents will continue to maintain a steady ideological path on the court, Hanson lists the three most noxious principles of progressive irredentism.

First, progressives believe that only conservative justices should flip, while liberal justices should maintain an inflexible progressive course. Second, any and all judicial means that advance progressive decisions, however much they violate man and nature’s God, must advance the public good. And lastly, progressives believe, with all the fervency of a doctrinaire extremist, that it is proper to view the court as an instrument of social justice, prodding representative bodies to the left by means of decisions that, strict constitutionalists would say, have only a nodding acquaintance with historical constitutional interpretation.

Hewing to this last principle, the progressive re-drafters of the constitution tip their hats to a Marxist formulation: “The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways. The point, however, is to change it,” said Karl Marx, words engraved as an epitaph on his tombstone. In much the same way, modern progressives hold that it is the business of progressives on the left to change laws made by representative assemblies through a radical, ahistorical re-interpretation of a shape-shifting Constitution.

Among progressives, nullification has become the new normal. Revisiting this socially disruptive idea can only bring down fire upon our heads. Jefferson Davis and other Southern secessionists embraced nullification until they were persuaded by President Abraham Lincoln’s generals to give it up, but not before the grounds of Shiloh and Gettysburg were soaked in blood. The operative principle of nullification is that the governor of a state, its lawmakers, or its municipal executives may nullify – declare inoperative -- federal laws at will and  expect the federal government to wink at governors and state legislators who counsel lawbreaking on occasion for purportedly good reasons. But consider that In an assembly of states that calls itself a union, the presence of a sanctuary city is an act of uncivil defiance bordering on insurrection.

Sanctuary state proponents such as  Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy and U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal in Connecticut are perfectly willing to accede to the proposition that the federal government does have the authority to make and enforce laws. Indeed, if Blumenthal were to contest this proposition, his office -- that of U.S. senator, which is constitutionally authorized to write laws to be executed by the executive department – would be rendered useless. In supporting sanctuary cities, Blumenthal is setting his face against both the executive department and  Congress of which he is a member. In effect, Blumenthal is saying that federal laws may be vacated by governors and mayors of the states if the law in question is perceived as unjust.

Once his principle of abrogation is generally accepted, any municipal executive with the concurrence of a governor may defy any law written by Blumenthal and affirmed by Congress. One needn’t wonder whether Blumenthal or Malloy would assert their destructive operative principle if a conservative state government were to defy what has been called “settled law” in Roe v Wade and outlaw all forms of abortion.

Don Pesci is a Vernon, Conn.-based columnist.


Don Pesci: Few limits to Democratic demagoguery


We survived World War Two, the deadliest conflict in world history; we survived the frequently denounced McCarthy Era; we survived the Soviet Union and the darkest days of the Cold War; we survived Watergate; we even survived the publication of the Pentagon Papers.

But will the FBI survive the Nunes memo?

Piece of cake!

Prior to the release of the memo, U.S, Sen. Chris Murphy, up for re-election in 2018, warned that its release might well cripple democracy in the United States: “Attacking the FBI betrays the [law and order] traditions of the Republican Party and, of course, is a threat to democracy, if people lose faith in the highest levels of law enforcement.”

Much earlier, long before the publication of the Nunes memo, a distressed Murphy had sent a memo to the GOP:  “Memo to GOP: whenever the great American experiment ends, those that left executive power unchecked will be judged guilty of its undoing.” Murphy’s  unchecked “executive power” was a backhanded reference President Donald Trump; no sleight was intended to Trump’s predecessor, President Barack Obama, who was disposed, when he was rebuffed by stiff Congressional opposition, to rule with his pen and phone by means of questionable executive orders.

“By the fall of 2011, after a summer standoff between the two political parties nearly caused a government shutdown,” the New York Times reported in a 2016 review of Obama’s regulatory tropism, “it was clear to Mr. Obama that little hope remained for moving his agenda forward in a Congress controlled by Republicans. Speaking in Las Vegas that October, Mr. Obama expressed disdain for ‘an increasingly dysfunctional Congress’ and pledged: ‘Where they won’t act, I will.’”

Last November, during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing, Murphy announced his concern for Trump’s mental stability: “We are concerned the president of the United States is so unstable, is so volatile, has a decision-making process that is so quixotic, that he might order a nuclear weapon strike that is wildly out of step with U.S. national security interests.”

The Trump administration cannot not last beyond the year 2025, thanks to term limits, though it seems clear that Connecticut’s two senators likely would prefer an impeachment before that date. The FBI and the permanent administrative state will have a much longer shelf life. They will survive.

There are few limits to Democrat campaign demagoguery. Democrats attempted to discredit the Nunes memo prior to its publication as ruinous to the FBI.

Post-publication, Blumenthal could not resist mentioning Sen. Joe McCarthy’s demagogic terrorism: “The release of this memo is really reminiscent of the darkest days of the McCarthy era, with character assassinations” Blumenthal fulminated on CNN during an appearance on Alisyn Camerota’s New Day. The memo, Blumenthal insisted, “endangers methods and sources of the intelligence community, and it reflects an effort to distract from the [Robert] Mueller investigation.”

Post publication, Murphy put away his pre-publication fears, insisting that the published memo was a dud. In the post-publication period, Murphy sought to defang the document characterizing it as “garbage evidence.” The memo is a four- page summary of a much larger body of evidence presented to a congressional committee concerning a FISA warrant application. Putting aside his earlier denunciation of the memo as signaling the end of the Republic, Murphy added, “This memo seems to do more to confirm the legitimacy of the FBI investigation into the Trump campaign than to undermine it.”

Democrats have sought to discredit assertions made in the Nunes memo by noting that details have been left out, the reddest of red-herrings. All narrowly focused summaries – police reports, editorials, political columns, news stories, and even the thousands of press releases sent to Connecticut’s media by Blumenthal during his 20-year reign as state attorney general – necessarily omit details of the broader investigations. Neither Blumenthal nor Murphy have yet focused on the assertions they claim are misleading in the Nunes summary memo.

The memo strongly suggests that information submitted to a FISA court wrongfully included questionable data from a dirt digger paid by the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign team to produce an opposition research document usually used in political campaigns to generate media interest. The memo suggests that some of the data presented to the FISA court was circulated by the oppo-researcher to a news outlet and the resulting story was then used by those who secured a FISA warrant to support the veracity of claims made in the dirt document. The memo argues, a recent Washington Post story tells us, that the planted story was used by the Justice Department to confirm assertions made in the unreliable oppo-research document – which “violated the cardinal rule of source handing.”    

One expects partisanship of politicians like Blumenthal and Murphy, but non-partisan journalists, a vanishing species, generally do not appreciate being misused in this way -- nor should the U.S. Intelligence community.

Don Pesci is a Vernon, Conn.-based columnist.




Don Pesci: King Kong meets a couple of frenzied Nutmeg State'Never Trumpers'


We all know that President Trump is thin-skinned, as witness the bloodstained Mika Brzezinski of Morning Joe. Recently, Trump tweeted about Ms. Brzezinski, now affianced to Joe Scarborough, the former Republican congressman who is the Joe of Morning Joe, that she had visited him recently and was “bleeding badly from a face-lift.”

The usual kerfuffle in social media ensued, and Trump was bare-knuckled by what he considers media thugs, purveyors of “fake news.” Following the pummeling, Trump tweeted, more temperately, “Crazy Joe Scarborough and dumb as a rock Mika are not bad people, but their low rated show is dominated by their NBC bosses. Too bad!" {Editor's note: The show actually has high ratings.}

If tweets had been available in the glory days of President Andy Jackson, the father of the modern Democratic Party might more easily have signaled to John Calhoun, once Jackson’s vice president, that if the newly elected senator from South Carolina continued to press nullification in response to federal tariffs adversely impacting the economy of his state, Jackson would send federal troops to South Carolina to apprehend Calhoun and hang him from the nearest oak tree. 

Troops were sent; South Carolina abandoned its Nullification Ordinance; Calhoun was not hanged; tariffs were made less onerous, and a nullification dispute between the North and the South abated for a few decades, after which a bloody Civil War decided the issues of nullification and slavery.

Try to imagine, if you will, the incendiary tweets that the Civil War might have generated.

Resemblances between Trump and Jackson have been made by the lying media – but, really, Trump is no Jackson. He has not yet threatened to hang his persistent Connecticut “Never-Trumpers,” U.S. Senators Dick Blumenthal and Chris Murphy, from the state’s gypsy-moth- infested oak trees.

Relations between these three are iffy, according to a story in The Hartford Courantheadlined “Amid Vitriol, Can Trump, State's U.S. Senators Come To Terms On Coveted Appointments?” 

The coveted appointment is the position soon to be vacated by retiring U.S. District Judge Robert Chatigny, who some years ago improperly intervened in the execution of mass- murderer Michael Ross, for which Judge Chatigny was rebuked, though not fired. It is nearly impossible for an aggrieved public to fire a renegade judge. Even Andy Jackson could not have fired Chatigny. Old age is now bearing him off.

The legal world, according to the story, is waiting with bated breath “to see how Trump and two of his most strident critics come to terms over coveted political appointments.”

The Courant reporter uses the expression “strident critics” to characterize the opposition of Blumenthal and Murphy to past presidential choices. But this is a considerable understatement. Critics render opinions; U.S. senators register votes. And Blumenthal and Murphy, both “Never Trumpers,” have opposed virtually all of President Trump’s major appointments. The usually cautious Blumenthal, a former attorney general for two decades in Connecticut, went so far as to impute racism to former U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions, Trump’s choice for U.S. attorney general.

“At one point during his cross examination of Sessions,” The Courant  piece noted, "U.S. senator and mud thrower from Connecticut Dick Blumenthal subtly suggested that Sessions might have a soft spot in his heart for the KKK. Blumenthal noted that Sessions had received some awards during his twenty years in the Congress, among them an award from the David Horowitz Freedom Center, Frank Gaffney's Center for Security Policy and the Federation for American Immigration Reform, the latter of which Blumenthal noted is classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, according to a story in the Washington Examiner.

"'Given that you did not disclose a number of those awards,' Blumenthal asked Sessions, 'are there any other awards from groups that have similar kinds of ideological negative views of immigrants or of African-Americans or Muslims or others, including awards that you may have received from the Ku Klux Klan?'"

Should Trump seek to appoint to the U.S. District Court a judge who had received awards from the Klu Klux Klan, Blumenthal might just “blue slip” the nominee. The two Connecticut Democratic senators can “issue a blue slip, which kills the nomination by preventing the Judiciary Committee from scheduling confirmation hearings,” according to the story.

Blumenthal insists – wrongly – that such measures are “traditional.” They are extraordinary. Tradition holds that senators from the same party as the president may issue recommendations for judgeships; Blumenthal is a “Never Trumper” Democrat now suing Trump for having violated the emoluments clause of the U.S. Constitution, while Trump is a duly elected Republican president who is under no obligation to accept judicial nominations from suit-prone party opposition pests such as Blumenthal.

One hopes that such issues will not erupt into a bitter twitter war.

Don Pesci ( is an essayist who lives in Vernon. Conn.



Don Pesci: In the thug competition, Trump is no Andrew Jackson



"We're careening, literally, toward a constitutional crisis. And he's [Judge Neil Gorsuch] been nominated by a president who has repeatedly and relentlessly attacked the American judiciary on three separate occasions, their credibility and trust is in question" --  U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal on CNN

President Trump is irascible and prone to childish fits of personal outrage, but his dealings with the judiciary are not quite as bloodcurdling as those of President Andrew Jackson, the founder of the modern Democratic Party.

Following the Battle of New Orleans, which he won, lofting him into celebrity status, Jackson declared martial law. A prominent Louisiana state legislator, Louis Louaillier, vented his displeasure anonymously in the Louisiana Courier. Discovering the identity of the author, Jackson had Louaillier arrested. When his lawyer applied for a writ of habeas corpus, an outraged federal district judge, Dominick Augustin Hall,  signed the writ, further inflaming Jackson, who ordered his troops to arrest Hall. The judge was hustled off to the pokey and placed in Louaillier’s cell, where no doubt they commiserated with each other. Yet another judge, Joshua Lewis, issued a writ of habeas corpus demanding Hall’s release. 

Andrew McCarthy writes in National Review, “As night follows day, Jackson had Lewis arrested, too. The plenipotent general then had five soldiers escort Judge Hall out of town, marching him four miles upriver.”

The judge was lucky that he was not hanged on the first oak tree available upon his release, the punishment that President Jackson threatened to inflict on John C. Calhoun for having defied one of his orders.

The question whether the Supreme Court was constitutionally authorized to declare state laws unconstitutional was much debated during Jackson’s time. Jefferson’s view was that the court had no such power; his comrade in arms, James Madison, argued that it did. Jackson wavered between the two disputants, adopting each view to accommodate his own policies.

When  Chief Justice John Marshall ruled in Worcester v. Georgia that the state of Georgia could not unconstitutionally seize Cherokee lands on which gold had been found because such laws violated federal treaties, Jackson is reputed to have said, "John Marshall has made his decision, now let him enforce it." Jackson’s retort may be apocryphal, but it typifies his cruel arrogance. Commenting on the case, Jackson wrote in a letter to John Coffee, "...the decision of the Supreme Court has fell still-born, and they find that they cannot coerce Georgia to yield to its mandate.”

Associate U.S. Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story thought that Marshall’s decision in Worcester might have been an attempt to mitigate Marshall’s earlier opinions in Fletcher and Johnson, which had been deployed by Georgia to justify the seizure of Cherokee lands. “Thanks be to God,” Story wrote to his wife in 1832, “the Court can wash their hands clean of the iniquity of oppressing the Indians and disregarding their rights.

Worcester provided the juridical backbone for future treatment of Indian tribes as independent nations subject to treaties conducted by federal agencies rather than states, but because Marshall did not ask federal marshals to enforce his decision in Worcester, Jackson proceeded with Cherokee removal. Jackson’s forced relocation of the Cherokees and other tribes from their native land led to the “Trail of Tears,” which closely followed the “Indian Removal Act” passed by Congress, in 1830.

While intemperate, Trump’s ill-conceived remark concerning a judge whose decision postponed a presidential measure that is constitutional and clearly authorized by statute does not signal a threat to constitutional order. Trump, now redrafting his order, had not jailed the judge or threatened to hang him from an oak tree.; nor has he threatened to disregard a Supreme Court decision, as had Jackson.  

In an interview following his presidency, Jackson expressed regret that he hadn’t shot Henry Clay, one of his more vocal political opponents. Though Trump did say during his primary campaign that he could probably shoot someone on Main Street and get away with it, this was press-baiting, an art that rump has perfected during his years in the media floodlights. 

During his 20 years as attorney general in Connecticut, Blumenthal was no stranger to hyperbole. It has often been said of him “There is no more dangerous spot in Connecticut than the space between Blumenthal and a TV camera.” Blumenthal – though he does not have the military record of a Jackson – lusts after media attention, knowing that notoriety is one among many tickets to election, and here he is in competition with two masterful media manipulators – Jackson and Trump.

Just as Trump is no Jackson, so it must be said of Blumenthal – he is no Trump. Following Blumenthal’s hysterical notion that Trump’s comments on judges amounted to a constitutional crisis, Trump questioned whether anyone should take seriously the word of a man who had several times claimed he had served as a marine in Vietnam when in fact, having exhausted his deferments, Blumenthal served in Washington, D.C., delivering Toys to Tots and ingratiating himself with The  Washington Post.

Since Blumenthal is not a judge but a senator in need of smelling salts, the remarks cannot be said to have triggered a constitutional crisis. 

Don Pesci ( isa political writer who lives in Vernon, Conn.




Don Pesci: The Blumenthal/Clinton alliance

Yalies stick together, especially in the case of  Yale Law schoolmates Hillary Clinton and Connecticut’s senior U.S. senator, Richard Blumenthal. Blumenthal gushed last Friday over Clinton’s political stock, ahead of the former secretary of state’s announcement Sunday that she is running for president in 2016.

“She literally can make history,” Blumenthal told Hearst Connecticut Media. “How many people have been a presidential spouse, a senator in her own right and a distinguished secretary of state with a record of representing of major state (New York) and our nation abroad? By any measure, she is very seriously and significantly qualified, especially as compared to some of the other contenders.”

Blumenthal downplayed the recent email retention scandal that has dogged Clinton, who used her personal e-mail account to conduct official business as secretary of state inside of a protected government server.

“She has addressed it in a thoughtful and serious way, as she should,” Blumenthal said. “It’s not going to be the decisive factor in whether people vote for her.”

The prospect of appearing on the same ticket with Clinton must be particularly salivating to Blumenthal, who is up for re-election in 2016.

“I think the more people can see Hillary the person, I’m tempted to say the real Hillary Clinton, the more that they will develop very deep and genuine affection and admiration for her,” Blumenthal said. “It will be a demanding and difficult campaign, as every presidential campaign is. She has extraordinary breadth of experience and balance and temperament and intellect and insight on issues.”

In 2008 when he was still state attorney general, Blumenthal was co-chairman of Clinton’s campaign in Connecticut, which went to then-U.S. Sen. Barack Obama, of Illinois, in the Democratic Super Tuesday primary. Blumenthal is an active member of the group Ready for Hillary.

“I’ve urged her to take this step and I’m just delighted she’s doing it,” Blumenthal said.

Blumenthal wasn't in attendance for Clinton’s debut as a candidate. He was in Hartford for Sunday’s parade celebrating the 10th national championship for the University of Connecticut’s women’s basketball program.

Blumenthal’s decades-long alliance with Clinton could pay dividends for the freshman senator, whose name has often been connected to Cabinet jobs in a hypothetical Clinton administration.

“I think that’s kind of way ahead of where anyone is thinking at this point,” Blumenthal said. “My focus is on working and fighting for the people of Connecticut in a job that I love, and I hope to continue to serve them.”

Don Pesci is a Vernon, Conn.-based political columnist.

Chris Powell: At least we plow well; sick vets and discretionary wars

MANCHESTER, Conn. Government in Connecticut does one thing well: snowplowing. While 2 inches of snow can send Washington, D.C., into comic panic and paralysis, Connecticut plays through even a foot or more of snow and can push it out of the way and be back in business in 24 hours.

Still, even in normal winters the snow is a drag here, and now, with heavy snow seeming to come nearly every week, it is more than a drag. It may be reducing economic output by 10 or 20 percent. Many people feel as if they are going to work mainly so they can earn money to pay someone to plow their driveway so they can go to work again.

Of course Connecticut long has managed despite having three terrible months each year. But that is because the state offered advantages offsetting that disadvantage.

On the whole for the last 25 years, since its enactment of an income tax, Connecticut has been losing population relative to the rest of the country, and the other day the Census Bureau reported that the state's population is back in absolute numerical decline as well.

Reflecting recently on state government's continuing budget deficits despite a record tax increase, budget director Ben Barnes said Connecticut has entered "a period of permanent fiscal crisis." His candor could be appreciated but Barnes also was confessing failure -- confessing that state government's policies have not been making Connecticut more prosperous but rather have been impoverishing it.

The excessive snow will make many state residents reconsider their premises for living here. To encourage them to stay put, state government better start reconsidering some of its premises as well.

* * *

Connecticut U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal is making much of his sponsorship of legislation aimed at reducing suicides among returned military veterans. The legislation is mainly a matter of requiring the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to increase mental-health services and hire more psychiatrists, and since the legislation passed the House and the Senate unanimously, its enactment may not have required as much political courage as the press releases about it imply.

Of course war always has been traumatic, and many returning soldiers always have suffered from a self-destructive depression even when they bore no debilitating physical wounds. Today there is a fancy name for it: post-traumatic stress disorder.

But at least with the country's biggest wars -- the Civil War, World War I and World War II -- veterans had the consolation that their work absolutely had to be done, whether it was preserving the nation and ending slavery or defeating totalitarian aggression that threatened the whole world, as well as the consolation that their fellow citizens profoundly appreciated their sacrifice.

It has been much different with the country's discretionary wars of recent decades, from Vietnam to Iraq to Afghanistan, where U.S. soldiers fought for dubious premises, where the national interest was not at risk enough to seem to require drafting the whole population into the war effort, and where the service of the soldiers was not really appreciated when they got home, because by then the wars they fought -- intervening in other countries' civil wars or trying to civilize barbarian cultures -- were not considered to have been worthwhile, the civil wars having burned themselves out on their own and the barbarians having not been civilized.

Yes, there are so many suicides of recently returned veterans, estimated at an appalling 22 every day, that the Veterans Affairs Department should have the resources to help more. But what the Armed Forces deserve most is not to be squandered on stupid and unnecessary wars -- like the ones in Iraq and Afghanistan that Senator Blumenthal has supported despite their failure to reach their objectives and despite the impossibility that they ever  could reach their objectives, at least not without the all-consuming effort  that elected officials like the senator did not dare to demand from their constituents.

Chris Powell is managing edit0r of the Journal Inquirer, in Manchester, Conn.