In this issue
April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Sept. 8, 2010 / 29 Elul, 5770

The man out to topple Barney Frank

By Jeff Jacoby

Jeff Jacoby

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | "When I was young, I was a Democrat because I wanted to help people," says Sean Bielat, who is running to replace Barney Frank in the US House of Representatives. "Now I'm a conservative because I want to help people."

Bielat is a whip-smart 35-year-old Marine, a successful business manager, and a first-time candidate for Congress out to topple the 29-year incumbent that many would consider the face of liberal Washington arrogance. Mission impossible? Eight months ago, a political thunderbolt electrified Massachusetts and put Republican Scott Brown in Ted Kennedy's old Senate seat. Bielat aims to induce that lightning to strike again.

Frank was first elected to Congress in 1980, and -- with one exception -- his re-election ever since has always been a forgone conclusion. The exception was 1982, when redistricting forced him to run against a longtime incumbent, Republican Representative Margaret Heckler -- and two-thirds of the newly configured 4th Congressional District came from her old territory. Many people, Frank included, assumed Heckler couldn't lose. "If you asked legislators to draw a map in which Barney Frank would never be a congressman again," he said sourly, "this would be it." But he did win, proving (1) that Frank doesn't know everything, and (2) that even in Massachusetts, the right candidate at the right time can send an entrenched incumbent packing.

Is Bielat the right candidate to topple Frank? He certainly isn't typical of the sacrificial lambs the GOP has put up in years past. For one thing, he's a former Democrat: As a Georgetown undergrad in the mid-1990s, he even interned at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in Washington. But his views shifted -- slowly at first, during four years of active duty in the Marines (he remains a major in the Marine Corps Reserve), then more decisively at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.

"That was very transformative," Bielat told me last week, as I followed him on the campaign trail in Taunton. Having gone from the "very conservative environment" of the military to Harvard's "very liberal environment, I was playing devil's advocate on every single issue. And before too long, I found myself thinking that conservative ideas are actually a lot more sound -- they're more cohesive, they make more sense."

In particular, he came to understand that "market-based solutions are ultimately more sustainable. Government-based solutions, no matter how well-intentioned, no matter how smart the people trying to execute them -- if they're a market intrusion, if they interfere with a functioning market, they fail. They're not sustainable. They destroy value."

Bielat points to Frank's long and ardent defense of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and to their role in the subprime mortage meltdown, as a classic example of the destruction that can ensue when government prevents the market from operating rationally.

The root of the crisis, he says, was the government's push to expand homeownership, with Fannie and Freddie coaxing uncreditworthy borrowers into mortgages they couldn't afford. "Barney Frank advocated very hard for policies that allowed just that," Bielat notes. "He said we should 'roll the dice' in favor of expanding homeownership," even if that meant risking financial soundness and safety.

Bielat (who is opposed by perennial candidate Earl Sholley in the GOP primary on Sept. 14) opposes ObamaCare, favors peace through military strength, wants the Bush tax cuts extended, and is against same-sex marriage -- all mainstream Republican views. Yet he is neither a libertarian purist nor a far-right conservative. He faults Republicans, for example, for not taking environmental issues more seriously. He wants Congress to reclaim its constitutional responsibility to declare war. To preserve Social Security, he envisions a bipartisan package of fixes -- not just private savings accounts, but also means-testing benefits, raising the retirement age, and lifting the income cap on Social Security taxability.

Issues aside, it would be hard to imagine an incumbent and challenger more dissimilar in style and personality than Frank and Bielat. The incumbent is a political lifer; the challenger believes in political turnover ("two or three terms, then up or out"). The incumbent is notoriously peevish and rude; the challenger is sunny and courteous. The incumbent prides himself on not suffering fools gladly. The challenger knows that he can learn even from people he disagrees with.

Can Barney Frank be beaten on Nov. 2? It's a long shot, no question. But even in Massachusetts, long shots have been known to pay off. Just ask Senator Brown.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

Jeff Jacoby is a Boston Globe columnist. Comment by clicking here.

Jeff Jacoby Archives

© 2010, Boston Globe