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Bernie Sanders

Never Again

In the face of criticism from left-wing activists, Bernie defends his support for NATO strikes in Yugoslavia. Previously, Sanders had been on the congressional delegation that negotiated with the Russians and a Milosevic envoy.


Published June 16, 1999 at 1:00 a.m.

Guess what?

Ol’ Bernardo was right about Kosovo.

The atrocities perpetrated upon civilian Kosovars by Slobodan Milosevic’s paramilitary thugs are all too real. The "ethnic cleanser" of the Balkans is, in reality, an "ethnic butcher" who turned Kosovo into a human slaughterhouse, just as he did previously in Bosnia.

"Never again!" bellowed Independent Congressman Bernie Sanders at the heated Montpelier Town Meeting a few weeks back as he answered the shouts of protesters condemning him as a "sell-out" and an "imperialist" for supporting the NATO strike on Yugoslavia.

Their shouts ring hollow today.

In fact, the small local choir of righteous lefties who serenade one another in cyberspace on UVM's ANTIWAR listserv have moved on to more pressing issues, like "Free Mumia" and the virtue of a new Shaw's supermarket on Pine Street.

In Washington, the Republicans chose to make the war in Yugoslavia "Clinton's War." Blinded by hatred, they still can't believe Bill Clinton survived Peckergate. The GOP's pest-control specialist and House Whip, Tom Delay of Texas, didn't want any part of the NATO crackdown on Milosevic. No ‘round the flag for the GOP this time. Instead, our Republican patriots secretly prayed — while kneeling before the Ten Commandments, no doubt — that the war would go badly for our side. Probably would have been delighted if a few more F-16’s got shot down. If U.S. casualties had mounted. A few more G.I.’s taken prisoner. A carrier sunk. Anything to make Bill Clinton look bad. This time the party, which under Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan perfected the art of wrapping itself in the flag, spat on it. They grievously miscalculated while our troops were in harm’s way. Shame on them.

Sanders was up front and out front. He was part of the congressional delegation that negotiated with the Russians and a Milosevic envoy in Vienna in early May. That agreement turned out to be the blueprint for the peace.

How ironic is it that the first Kosovar refugee to arrive in Vermont landed a few houses down the street from Sanders’ hacienda. Twenty-three-year-old Emin Bakiu was visiting friends in Pristina when Milosevic’s Gestapo produced their own remake of Schindler’s List. Thousands of Kosovars were rounded up and packed like cattle onto trains for shipment to the Macedonian border. Back in his hometown, Bakiu’s family fled into the mountains. Two weeks ago he arrived at the home John and Sarah Burchard. Last week the congressman, his wife Jane and son David paid a visit.

“He had just found out that day,” said Sanders, "that his family was alive. He's a wonderful young man who's gone through a hell no young person should have to go through."

"To hear his stories first-hand," said Jane Sanders, "was heart-wrenching. His parting words were that he wants to thank America. He's so thankful that there were enough good people to stand up to do something."

Another 21 Kosovar refugees are due to arrive this week, says Burchard. Wonder if any of our righteous anti-war protesters from Ivory Tower Land will dare to tell them face-to-face that the United States should have looked the other way?

Also new in Bernie Land is the arrival of a new chief of staff. Lady Jane had been handling the duties of late, but now a new old face has returned. St. Albans native Jeff Weaver, a graduate of Georgetown Law School, has rejoined the staff. Jeff started as Bernie's driver in the 1986 gubernatorial race. He's spent more time alone with Ol' Bernardo than anyone except Jane. "We hit it off right from the start," Weaver told Inside Track.

Democrats United? — Friday night's Democrat fundraiser at the Sheraton was a tidy little affair. Sen. Tom Daschle of South Dakota was the guest of honor. Very slick dude, though much shorter in person than on TV. Unity prevailed. Wish we'd had a camera on hand when a smiling Gov. Howard Dean strode over to shake hands with House Speaker Michael Obuchowski and Ed Flanagan, our state auditor. Secretary of State Deb Markowitz was the emcee, and she peered over the podium to declare, “There’s something each one of us in the room owes Gov. Dean thanks for. And next year, after the 2000 election, we’ll owe him the same thanks, because this man is the only person between us and — think of this — Gov. Ruth Dwyer!”

Needless to say, that brought down the house.

Ruthless Ruth painted Ho-Ho as a “liberal” in her latest fund-raising letter, something Howie Wowie is not now, and never has been. And GOP Chairman Patrick Garahan recently spanked our “liberal” governor Dean for his performance on transportation issues.

“The roads you drive,” wrote Garahan in another GOP fund-raising letter, “are riddled with potholes, and the bridges you cross are dilapidated and dangerous.”

Careful, Pat. Some folks remember that a few years ago you were a loyal member of the Dean administration.

“You know the interesting part of all that talk of my being a big liberal,” said Ho-Ho “is it came from my former transportation secretary. So if I’m such a big liberal,” asked Dean, “what was he doing in my cabinet? And how come he neglected the roads all those years?”

Patrick the Republican told Inside Track this week, "If I had it to do over again, that language wouldn't have been in there." Garahan said he "may have some political differences with the governor, but I still think he has a lot of good attributes both personally and politically."

In fact, Garahan was the original point man on Ho-Ho's Choo-Choo, the Burlington-to-Charlotte commuter rail scheme. "I still think it's a pretty good idea," noted Patrick the Republican.

Media Notes — Last week WCAX-TV "clarified" the recent Anson "For the Birds" Tebbetts hatchet job on State Senator and Essex County State's Attorney Vince Illuzzi. According to the transcript posted on the WCAX Web site Marsillyis, er, Marselis Parsons told viewers last Wednesday, "We reported that an Island Pond family was upset with Illuzzi's conduct in a criminal case and were taking their complaints to the Professional Conduct Board. We reported that attorney Veronica Ciambra had filed the complaint on the behalf of the Tardiff family. But the complaint was actually filed by the Tardiffs and not Ciambra. We apologize for the confusion."

Yeah, damn factual errors can be so confusing. But when it comes to Vince the Prince, Ch. 3 won't let the facts get in the way. The fact is, the Tardiff "complaint" was bogus from the get-go, and the board said as much. The publicity forced Illuzzi to turn the Tardiff case over to Caledonia County State's Attorney Dale Gray. And over the weekend, WCAX's poster boy, 19-year-old Darrel Tardiff, was cited into court on additional charges of aggravated assault and burglary.


Speaking of Congressman, Bernie Sanders



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