Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Huma

The near-mythic Huma, Hillary's secret weapon. Just one look.

An'Don't Let The Door Bang Yer'arse On The Way Out

"Mr. Bluster Saves The World" is a review of Lowell Weicker's then newly published autobiography written by Chris Powell, the Managing Editor of the Journal Inquirer. Powell wore two hats when I wrote a regular column for the paper several years ago; he was also the Editorial Page Editor. The column is published here with the author’s permission. Some journalistic pieces – nearly all of Henry Mencken and Bill Buckley – are overarching and survive the ravages of time. This is one of them. It richly deserves a second curtain call. There are well wishers who, now that Weicker is leaving Connecticut for a more promising and … ahemm… less taxing state, silently invoke the Irish blessing on the author of Connecticut’s income tax: “An’don’t let the door bang yer’arse on the way out.” This piece by Powell is the door.

MISTER BLUSTER SAVES THE WORLD

Weicker's Memoir Is Breathtaking
for Self-Contradiction and Omission

By CHRIS POWELL

Legend has it that the ancient Athenian statesman
Aristides was stopped in the street by an uneducated
man who didn't recognize him and who asked for help
in writing Aristides' own name on a ballot in an
election to decide who among the nation's leaders
would be banished. The man is said to have explained
that he didn't know Aristides at all but was simply
sick and tired of hearing him called "the Just."

It may be impossible to get far into Lowell P. Weicker
Jr.'s autobiography, "Maverick: A Life in Politics"
(Little, Brown, & Co., $22.95), without understanding
exactly how that disgruntled voter felt.

According to the legend, Aristides silently completed
the man's ballot for him and was duly voted into
exile, which is sort of where Weicker, Connecticut's
former U.S. senator and governor, now finds himself
politically. Unfortunately, while Weicker was at the
center of great events both in Washington and in
Connecticut and has had the ghostwriting services of
Barry Sussman of The Washington Post, this memoir is
almost entirely without reflection even as it is often
laughably and unintentionally ironic. Indeed, if there
is even one insight in "Maverick," it is lost under an
avalanche of chest-thumping, self-congratulation,
self-righteousness, and breathtaking
self-contradiction and omission.

The self-contradiction begins right away, in Weicker's
introduction, where he denies the grievance of many
Republicans, to whose party he belonged throughout
most of his political career, that he lurched to the
left after he was elected to the Senate in 1970 with
less than half the vote in a three-way race. He
insists that it is the Republicans themselves who have
"moved so far to the right" since then.

But only a few paragraphs later Weicker acknowledges
having been a Goldwater supporter who, during his
single term in the U.S. House of Representatives,
endorsed a school prayer amendment to the Constitution
and the impeachment of Justice William O. Douglas. In
this paragraph Weicker writes
that he "matured and changed," having just denied
changing at all. And that is the extent of his
explanation of his remarkable political metamorphosis.
He doesn't deign to address the old suspicion that he
mainly adapted himself to suit Connecticut's
traditional Democratic leanings.

To explain his narrow loss to Democrat Joseph
Lieberman in his bid for re-election to the Senate in
1988, Weicker writes, "I had remained the same
persistent figure, fighting with the Jesse Helmses of
this world...." A few pages later he discloses not
only that he, the great maverick, actually believed
fervently in the Senate's seniority system but also
that, in this belief, he supported the very
same repugnant but duly senior Helms
against the tolerable but junior Richard Lugar for
chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

"By 1988 Connecticut citizens were tiring of a senator
who kept focusing on annoying issues like
discrimination, separation of church and state, health
care, and AIDS," Weicker writes, never mentioning the
possibility that Connecticut also might have tired of
a senator who was missing dozens of Senate votes to go
out collecting a fortune in "speaking fees" from
special interests on whose legislation he
simultaneously was voting -- the issue that actually
cost him the election. Nor does he explain how, if
benighted Connecticut really was so indifferent to
those annoying issues of his, it nevertheless elected
him governor as an independent two years later.

FIRST CIVILITY, THEN NAME CALLING

Weicker laments the loss of civility in public life
and complains that his political opponents over the
years have been hateful and vicious. Having disposed
of civility, a few pages later he
calls them names like "slimeball,"
"chameleon," "ass," and "moralizing nuts."

He can relate a trivial anecdote about playing in a
tennis match for charity with Vice President Spiro
Agnew but recalls nothing about the speech Agnew gave
soon after, in the last weeks of the 1970 Senate
campaign, calling Weicker's Democratic opponent a
communist -- a damaging attack whose immense political
profit was gratefully accepted by the fearless
crusader for fair play.

Weicker calls former state Sen. Richard Bozzuto's
endorsement of Lieberman in 1988 "a stunning act of
disloyalty to the Republican Party." But Weicker
neglects to mention his own frequent and stunning
endorsement-like remarks from the Republican side in
support of Connecticut Democrats in the thick of
campaigns over the years. How someone who was elevated
by Connecticut's Republican Party and was never denied
anything he sought from it and still sabotaged its
candidates and then left it to deprive it of the
governorship in 1990 can fault others
for disloyalty is ... well, vintage Weicker.
As he did in politics, in this book he simply waives
all standards for himself, sometimes only moments
after he articulates them for everyone else.

He praises his broadmindedness for having induced the
party in Connecticut to open its primary elections to
unaffiliated voters. But he fails to address the
complaint that his underlying purpose was only to
prevent Republicans even from having
a party of their own in which they someday
might have a primary Weicker himself might not win.

"DIALOGUE" OR BAITING THE CROWD?

Even advocates of progressive taxation may gag at
Weicker's account of his imposition of the income tax
on Connecticut soon after his inauguration as governor
in 1991.

Weicker writes that he said during his campaign for
governor that he "wouldn't rule out an income tax."
But in fact he did rule it out -- in general with his
famous television commercial likening the tax to
"pouring gasoline on a fire," a commercial responding
directly to his Republican opponent's charge that
Weicker did support an income
tax; and specifically, in writing, with a pledge to
oppose an income tax at least through his first year
in office.

He writes that he waded into the crowd at the mass
rally at the state Capitol protesting the tax because
"I wanted to keep up the dialogue." A few lines later
he remarks that the insults hurled at him there were
"the kind of inanities you expect in that situation."
So might he really not have sought "dialogue" at all
but rather an opportunity to taunt the protesters into
discrediting their cause and to get himself on TV
looking like a brave martyr to a mob?

This self-contradiction suggests as much, and sure
enough, in the Weicker pattern, it is followed by an
equivalent hypocrisy, when he condemns White House
Chief of Staff H.R. Haldeman for having done the same
sort of thing, for having welcomed the chance that
protesters would turn violent and obscene at a
campaign rally for Richard Nixon.

Weicker writes that he refused to give state
legislators jobs in the executive branch in exchange
for their votes for the income tax. But in fact a good
number who voted for the tax did end up with such
jobs.

He writes that his income tax saved Connecticut. He
doesn't mention the tax's cynical "Greenwich" nature,
its replacement of capital gains and dividend taxes on
his wealthy friends and neighbors with taxes on the
ordinary earnings of the middle class. Nor does he
mention that, whatever the cause, Connecticut remains
severely depressed economically and has lost
population every year since the income tax was passed,
the only state in such a long downward trend.

WHO MANIPULATED WHOM?

Weicker denounces the manipulation and
self-perpetuation of the two-party system and cites an
example of it: the attempt of Democratic and
Republican legislators who opposed the income tax to
build support for their alternative tax proposals by
promising not to nominate candidates against each
other in the next election. But then he boasts that he
got votes for the income tax by promising his third
party's cross-endorsement to the same legislators,
who, with that endorsement, survived to perpetuate the
very system he just denounced.

He describes as his great personal victory the 1992
state legislative election, which returned to power
the Democratic majority of the income-tax session,
without mentioning the possible influence of the
Democratic presidential landslide at the top of the
ticket. He does not explain why he did not dare to
seek re-election himself two years later.

To hear Weicker tell it, he didn't just end up on the
right side of the Watergate drama but rather was its
central figure. (Putting Nixon rather than Weicker
himself on that postage stamp apparently should be
considered doubly unjust.) Weicker didn't just work to
clean up the oceans and integrate the disabled and
retarded into society and so forth. No, Mister Bluster
singlehandedly saved the world -- and in a mere 224
pages.

HE'S AGAINST THE WAR ... NOW

As he has been doing in speaking engagements for a few
years now, Weicker blithely rewrites history here,
portraying himself as the anti-Vietnam War candidate
when, in both 1968 and 1970, his two congressional
elections during the war, he was entirely Nixon's
candidate and supported Nixon administration war
policy. He may be escaping exposure in this because
most of those who supported the war don't want to have
to account for it now and because most of those who
opposed the war give him a free pass for having come
over to their side on big issues since then.

Amid all these self-contradictions and omissions he
writes that his "first truly hypocritical act in
politics" was only to eulogize Malcolm Baldrige at the
dedication of a research ship named for the late
commerce secretary. According to Weicker, Baldrige's
unforgivable sin was that he had tried to carry out
the cuts proposed by his president, Ronald Reagan, in
the budget for oceanic research. (Of course if
Baldrige had resisted carrying
out the will of his boss, Weicker now might be
sneering at him as well as at Bozzuto for "a stunning
act of disloyalty to the Republican Party.")

While his once having spoken a little too well of the
dead is the most Weicker can fault himself for in "a
life in politics," it was not policy or ideological
disagreement but his making a whole career of flaming
hypocrisy that created such apoplectic animosity
toward him among certain political people in
Connecticut. Indeed, here and there in this book he
actually makes good if all-too-brief arguments for
particular policies, like means-testing entitlements
and relaxing the U.S. embargo against Castro's Cuba.
But these are overwhelmed by the blustering pose that
he has been so much better than all other politicians
in methods, tactics, principle, and personal virtue.

NOT REALLY CANDID AT ALL

In fact Weicker regularly lowered himself with the
worst of them. Maybe that is why there is no mention
in this book either of his too-cozy relationship with
the contrivance that calls itself the Mashantucket
Pequot tribe, to which, by gubernatorial fiat, he
granted a monopoly on casino gambling in Connecticut
and from which he received, seemingly in return, a $2
million contribution to a charity he chaired and
controlled, the Special Olympics --which promptly
provided many of his political cronies with cushy jobs
and a comfortable place to land as his administration
was coming to an end.

If Weicker's predecessor from the Democratic old
guard, William A. O'Neill, had taken personal
advantage of his office like that, Connecticut's
largest newspaper, The Hartford Courant, would have
led the state's press in demanding impeachment on
grounds of corruption. But since their darling of
political correctness did it, The Courant and most
other Connecticut newspapers never even reported the
connections.

Weicker has cultivated a reputation for candor, and
the publicity for this book tries to perpetuate it. He
has taken many forthright
positions over the years and no one would accuse him
of timidity, but, as this book inadvertently suggests,
he may have been the least
candid politician of his era in Connecticut, the
distinction between candor and mere bluster having
been lost.

Weicker notes that he has been married three times and
acknowledges shortchanging his family during his 30
years in politics. As he took this book on the road to
receptions at bookstores last month, he said his
family was the most important thing in his life now. A
few days later came the announcement of his
exploratory committee for an independent presidential
campaign.

"Maverick" may be less an autobiography than a hasty
and self-serving text for that campaign, establishing
that its author isn't always wrong, just insufferable.


-----------------------------------------

Chris Powell is managing editor of the Journal
Inquirer in Manchester.

Monday, October 29, 2007

A Carpetbagging Icon Moves South

“For the first time in a 40-plus-year career in politics,” the past Editorial Page Editor of The Day of New London, Morgan McGinley, tells us, “Lowell P. Weicker Jr. won't vote in Connecticut this fall. Weicker, 76, and his wife Claudia have moved from Essex to Charlottesville, Va., where the papers from his career as a United States senator will be housed in the Alderman Library at the University of Virginia.”

When British actor Rex Harrison moved from England to Switzerland (because the taxes were too punishing in England), he was asked by the British Press why he was leaving.

“Chocolates,” Harrison said. Switzerland produced better chocolates.

The redundantly wealthy Weicker has moved from Essex, Connecticut to Charlottesville, Virginia because the University of Virginia, according to Mr. McGinley, has arranged to house Weicker’s papers without charging him.

And they have better chocolates.

Meskill RIP

With former Governor Tom’s Meskill’s death, an earlier generation of Republicans is passing the torch to a newer generation.

Meskill, former Governor of New York Nelson Rockefeller, Jacob Javitts, also of New York and former Governor Lowell Weicker’s template of the good Republican, were all “moderates,” which means they were inclined to break free of ideological restraints and join forces, when necessary, with liberals on the other side of the political barricades.

The AP story on Meskill’s death does not mention his roll and that of his aide, Tom D’Amore, later Republican Party chairman and Weicker’s right hand man, in the institution of a Connecticut state income tax.

Legislation creating a state income tax during the Meskill administration was somewhat surreptitiously passed through the legislature, which quickly reconvened and killed the legislation at a raucous midnight session. Much later, Weicker and D’Amore – along with some help from Bill Cibes, who ran for governor and lost on a pro-income tax plank – pulled and pressured “moderate” Republicans legislators until the tax was passed. Of course, one does not expect such things to be mentioned during Meskill’s eulogy. Nancy Johnson’s bouquet -- “Meskill transcended politics” – is probably all one can expect while the corpse is yet unburied. Johnson, perhaps taking a lesson from Meskill, also transcended politics, until she was shot down by US Rep Chris Murphy who, following the well worn path trodden by most Connecticut politicians, is now in a transcendent mode.

Support institutions, among them Connecticut’s “moderate” media, love moderates – some would say immoderately. They liked Weicker when he was setting then President Ronald Reagan’s pants afire.

In a recently published book, Reagan reached out from the grave and clipped Weicker on the ear. Said Reagan in a diary entrée recorded in March of 1984: “We lost the school prayer amendment in the Senate. We had a majority but needed a 2/3 majority. The sad thing is about 15 Sens. were convinced the amendment was a mandate that schools would have to have prayer. Lowell Weicker was the head ringmaster against us as he is on everything we want. He's a pompous, no good, fathead.”

A commentator humorously noted upon reading the entrée that “Reagan, of course, was a master of hyperbole, and the short, pithy diary form, comparable to a blog, is not exhaustive. So, perhaps Reagan may be forgiven for calling Weicker a ‘fathead.’ Given his size, Weicker’s head was proportionally not that fat.”

New England’s media will mourn the passing of Meskill. But some Republicans, not so immoderately moderate, will rejoice that the torch has been passed on.

To whom?

Well, to those few brave Republicans unafraid to wear their ideology on their sleeves.

It is no longer fatal in Connecticut to be, for example, a Reagan Republican. And in a media where conservative ideas in the ice-age of Javitts et al were strictly verboten, one sometimes sees dangerous ideas ventilated, even in papers that increasingly sound like they had been written by press aides for Chris Dodd or the front page writers at DailyKos.

The underground, long suppressed in Connecticut, is rising slowly to the surface. Both the left and the right are flexing their muscles.

This does not mean that the age of moderation in New England has been supplanted by an epoch of – to use a term not unfriendly to true believing Republicans and Democrats – principled politics. It simply means that the public square, the great stage upon which democracy struts and stretches its peacock feathers, will be populated by other actors. And the other actors certainly will change the nature of the dialogue.

Indicative of this change is a brief conversation I once overheard between a respectable, long serving editor of a newspaper and a dismayed conservative reader. The editor was insisting that reporters at his paper, while listing in a liberal direction, were professionals who did not allow their prejudices to get the best of them when they were at their jobs; their reports were “objective.”

“I believe you,” said the reader. “But, don’t you see, we want you to hire some conservative reporters who will be objective.”

The times, they are a’changing. Every man who dies carries a whole generation with him to the grave. So with Meskill. Let us honor him – and pass on.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Doddspeil

The following information, which includes a critical commentary, was taken from Sen. Chris Dodds’ official site.

“From his time in the Peace Corps as a young man to his 25 years on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee,” according to the site information, “Chris Dodd has worked to strengthen America through bold engagement.”

Dodd joined the Peace Corp. and later the National Guard, some think, to avoid a bold personal engagement in Vietnam. An example of Dodd’s “bold engagement” is provided on the site: “Dodd Was a Leader in Ending U.S. Military Assistance to the Nicaraguan Contras, which Opened the Door for Successful Elections in 1990.”

There are two paths in Latin America. Hugo Chavez, the dictator of Venezuela mentioned only in passing on the site referenced, has taken the path more traveled by tyrants on the way up. Having seized the oil industry and crushed opposition newspapers, Chavez is now in the process of consolidating his power. A week ago, he threatened the Catholic Church with reprisals for resisting his depredations. Dodd is a Catholic. The broad way taken by Chavez is the path chosen decades earlier by Fidel Castro and his brother Raul.

Daniel Ortega’s attempt to Cubanize Nicaragua was disrupted by then President Reagan and the Contras, certainly not by anything Dodd said or did. The part played by Dodd in ousting the Ortega brothers was mysterious and somewhat mischievous. It is true that peace and democracy of a sort followed Dodd’s tete a tete with the Ortega brothers. But to suggest that the meetings were the cause of peace and amity in that country is to commit what rhetoricians call a post hoc, proper hoc fallacy. It may be true that B follows A, but it is not for that reason true that that A causes B. The rising sun is preceded by Chanticleer’s crowing, but the crowing does not cause the sun to rise.

It’s altogether possible, some thought at the time, that the Contras, who were fighting the communist regime of Daniel Ortega and his brother, had much to do with the elections that swept the Ortega regime out of office. Dodd visited the Ortega brothers a few times during this period. No record of what was said between the senator and the Ortega brothers was made available to Connecticut’s press. The substance of Dodd’s private negotiations with the Ortega brothers remains a secret. Since that time, Dodd has privately negotiated with Syrian leader Bashar Assad.

According to a Boston Globe account of the meeting, the US ambassador to Syria was withdrawn after Assad had been implicated in the assassination of Rafiq Hariri, the former prime minister of Lebanon.

The State Department opposed the senator’s trip.

Sen. John Kerry, present with Dodd at the meeting with Assad, said that the message they conveyed to Assad was no different that of the Bush administration.

According to Syria’s state directed newspaper, Assad, Dodd and Kerry, “discussed the deteriorating situation in Palestine and the need to preserve Palestinian national unity .The Baker-Hamilton [Iraq Study Group] report was discussed and President Assad affirmed the need to stop violence in Iraq, and Syria's readiness to achieve Middle East peace under honest international auspices."

According to Dodd’s site, the senator “understands America must lead to protect our security not only on Iraq, but also on the rise of state-less terrorist organizations around the world, Iran and North Korea’s emerging nuclear capabilities, a resurgent Taliban in Afghanistan, the HIV/AIDS crisis that is decimating whole continents and creating failed states, and the growing threat of global warming.”

The site also includes Dodd’s prescription for enhancing American security: “He strongly supports the Feingold-Reid proposal – the only responsible measure in Congress that sets a timetable to end the war in Iraq by March 31, 2008 – and he has urged all the candidates in the presidential race to join him. Chris Dodd is ready to lead – to face our challenges abroad with boldness and a proven ability to bring people together.”

"As President," Dodd promises on his site, "he will work to restore our alliances." Following the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq by the end of March, it is not clear who Dodd will bring together and what he will ask them to do. Which alliances? The United States has an unspoken alliance with the Kurds, the Iraqis and Israel. Will those alliances be strengthened upon a withdrawal of American troops from Iraq? Will the precipitous withdrawal demanded by Dodd put us in a more advantageous relationship with Iran, which has threatened to destroy Israel, or Syria, which is supplying aid and comfort to suicide bombers in Iraq? The alliance with France appears to be on the mend since Jacques Chirac has left the scene, and Germany is no longer hollering at us. Those two alliances appear to be on the mend, largely as a result of recent elections in both counties.

Charles Lamb, the famous 18th century English critic, once reviewed a poem called “Love Is Enough” in a single line: “No, it isn’t,” said Lamb.

Moral authority and velvet glove diplomacy will not get you very far among people whose lives are directed by a competing moral authority that permits them to bomb school busses full of young children. Some observers of the jihadists in the Middle East believe that moral authority, however valuable, is just not enough. In addition, moral authority over other people also depends upon a nation’s strength and faithfulness. Assuming Dodd is successful in ending America’s participation in the war in Iraq – not the war itself, which will continue when American troops leave, directed, some believe by people like Bashir Assad – what moral suasion will he use to pacify the ambitions of Syria and Iran? And will the moral authority of the United States be undermined by the precipitous withdrawal favored by Dodd? Saying ‘pretty please” to Syria’s Assad and Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, after American troops have been successfully driven out of Iraq, may not be helpful. And history demonstrates that the moral authority of those who lose wars has rarely been very much enhanced in the minds of the victors.

The moral authority of the United States reached its apogee, according to Dodd and others, after World War II and the military defeat of Nazi Germany. Had the United States and its allies lost the war, does anyone doubt that its moral authority would have been diminished by the loss? Recently, Dodd provided a Forward to a book of letters written by his father, former Sen. Tom Dodd, while Dodd the elder was a prosecutor at Nuremburg. Those letters are, as Dodd and other’s have said, a glorious testimony to the moral rectitude of the country that defeated the Nazis in a hot war and later the Soviets in a Cold War. But no historian can seriously doubt that it was the victorious war that made possible all that followed, including the Marshall Plan to rebuild the infrastructures of the countries that had been destroyed by the people who rebuilt them after the war.

Now, it is right for Dodd to celebrate his father, an ardent Cold Warrior. It is right for Dodd to cherish those uniquely American qualities – magnanimity in victory, a respect for the good opinion of mankind, an adherence to the principles laid down in the U.S. Constitution – that were on display during the Nuremburg trials; but his analytical approach to the period is seriously compromised precisely because, for reasons best known to him, he has omitted to mention the part played by a victorious military in World War II and its peaceful aftermath.

War is always to be lamented. But there is no question – as Hitler and Stalin well knew – that wars decide matters. It therefore matters a great deal who prevails in a war, because it is the victors that determine the future. The Nuremberg trials happened because the United States and it allies – bleeding blood, sweating sweat and weeping tears -- prevailed over the enemies of freedom and liberty in the bloodiest and most vicious war up to that time.

Peace Corp volunteers did not drive the Ortega brothers, two unrepentant larval Castroite communists, from office. And however influential Dodd’s peaceful overtures to them may have been, they were effective, it at all, because the Contras, supported by the administration of Ronald Reagan, had already weakened that authoritarian regime.

So too with Bashir Assad, not a force for peace in the Middle East. He, and other like him, will listen to the whispering of peaceful doves only when they are convinced that the forces of freedom and liberty are patient, faithful, united and morally certain that the future will not belong to those who will bear away in their bloody teeth the blessings of liberty that Dodd’s father struggled so hard to preserve.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Blumenthal The Mediator

AT&T evidentialy is not content to remain prone under the jackboot of Connecticut’s Attorney General, Richard Blumenthal.

In a month long legal battle with the company, Blumenthal ruled that AT&T no longer could provide TV service through their phone lines without registering as a cable company and promising to provide service through out the entire state, a provision that applies to cable franchises. Blumenthal, reasoning that price regulation leads to increased competition, lower rates and improved customer service, has in the past sought to force gas stations to provide unitary costs throughout the state.

The State Department of Public Utility Control, reversing an earlier ruling that AT&T’s U-verse phone line TV service was not a cable business and hence did not require a franchise license, promptly put into effect Blumenthal’s ruling. The cable companies took AT&T to court, and the court sided with Big Cable, Blumenthal and a chastened DPUC.

The DPUC’s about-face had been criticized by some friends of competition. The Cable TV Act was not intended as a regulatory straight jacket; the law permits states some room to maneuver in regulating cable companies. In its haste to satisfy Blumenthal, the DPUC overlooked a new state law that permits companies to decide the extent and nature of their markets, a novel conception that returns business decisions to the owners of businesses best able to make market decisions.

The exception, designed to prevent Big Cable from driving away new competitors, was inserted into a new law last spring because legislators wanted to encourage competition in the highly regulated cable market. Big Cable likes regulation because they can survive under the withering thumb of regulators who flog start up competitors from the market.

When AT&T threatened to withdraw U-verse should they lose in court on appeal, Blumenthal, to turn a phrase of British ex-Premier Margaret Thatcher, “went all squishy.”

Blumenthal still wishes to force AT&T to provide its service state-wide.

The attorney general offered to file a request with the DPUC to stay its decision so that AT&T may continue to sign up customers. Under such a stay, AT&T will be able to go about its business – even though the attorney general has determined it is breaking the law in doing so – but Blumenthal is keeping the firing squad at the ready in order to force AT&T to make an arrangement with Big Cable that will satisfy him.

"We want to do everything possible to find common ground,” Blumenthal said, “because there are elements of common interest here.”

In a brief statement, AT&T rejected the stay. The company is hopeful that a court can be found in Connecticut that will permit it to offer to consumers a service that might provide much needed competition in a market in which well established competitors are able to use regulations to drive new products from the market.

A stay, AT&T said, would only further confuse their customers.

Blumenthal now has inserted himself as a mediator into a competitive struggle between a host of interested parties: Big cable companies that want to use the state’s increasingly Byzantine regulatory structure to stifle competition; the bullied, confused and confusing DPUC; state legislators who carefully crafted a bill last Spring to encourage competition, now thwarted by Blumenthal; potential entrepreneurs that may be discouraged from entering a state so highly regulated; the courts, now called upon to mediate a struggle between all the parties involved; and consumers who, depending upon the outcome of the struggle, may either benefit or lose in the coming court ordered deal.

Excessive regulation is a tax on service. It almost always stifles competition, drives new solutions to old problems from the marketplace, and, in the long run, increases costs by providing a monopoly on business to companies that need not rely on innovation and cost cutting measures to survive in highly regulated markets.

No court can be expected to decide the legal issues involved in such cases by prudently considering what is best for consumers. Courts are obliged to decide cases strictly according to law. But winning a point in law is not always a guarantee that benefits will accrue to consumers. And that is why cases of this kind should be decided by legislatures rather than judges.

Someone should tell Blumenthal.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Unjustified Jihadists

It is not always easy to bend your ear to the whisperings behind the firing of cannons. War is loud; it drowns out the central meaning of things. It would not be far from the truth to say those who have distorted jihad have hijacked Islam. For instance, a rigid and clear prohibition lies upon the unjustified killing of Muslims by other Muslims, and other clear prohibitions forbid the wanton taking of the lives of the innocent.

There are no passages in the Qur’an or in the commentaries that would justify such actions without seriously distorting both the message and the messenger of Allah. This does not mean that a clever and malicious mind cannot so distort the message; even the devil, we are told in Christian theology, can quote scripture to his own purpose. When he does so, it is important that he be recognized by other students of scripture as having distorted God’s message.

The Qur’an does not sanction wanton violence against the innocent, which is why, following the violence against a Catholic nun in Somolia after Pope Benedict XVI's lecture in Regensburg, Islamic authorities and scholars from around the world, representing all denominations and schools of thought, joined together to deliver an answer to the Pope in the spirit of open intellectual exchange and mutual understanding.

In part, this is what they wrote: “Muslims can and should live peacefully with their neighbors. And if they incline to peace, do thou incline to it; and put thy trust in God (al-Anfal 8:61). However, this does not exclude legitimate self-defense and maintenance of sovereignty.

“Muslims are just as bound to obey these rules as they are to refrain from theft and adultery. If a religion regulates war and describes circumstances where it is necessary and just, that does not make that religion war-like, anymore than regulating sexuality makes a religion prurient. If some have disregarded a long and well-established tradition in favor of utopian dreams where the end justifies the means, they have done so of their own accord and without the sanction of God, His Prophet, or the learned tradition. God says in the Holy Qur’an: Let not hatred of any people seduce you into being unjust. Be just, that is nearer to piety (al-Ma’idah 5:8). In this context we must state that the murder on September 17th of an innocent Catholic nun in Somalia—and any other similar acts of wanton individual violence—‘in reaction to’ your lecture at the University of Regensburg, is completely un-Islamic, and we totally condemn such acts.”

The statement also unequivocally condemned the targeting of non-combatants and said that religious belief alone cannot legitimately make anyone an object of attack.

Whatever else the statement is, it cannot be regarded as a justification for the kind of activity commonly used by terrorists as a propaganda instrument designed to rally others to a course of action sturdily condemned by the Qu’ran. If the means are unjust – that is to say, if they do not conform to the strictures of the Qu’ran – no cause can make them just.

Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, the president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, has praised the letter cited above as "an eloquent example of a dialogue among spiritualities."

The cardinal, noting the text was signed both by Sunni and Shiite Muslims, lauded it as demonstrating “that with good will and respectful dialogue, we can rise above prejudices."

The president of the dicastery noted an obvious difficulty in the way of theological dialogue between Muslims and Christians: "Muslims do not accept that one can question the Qu’ran, because it was written, they say, by dictation from God. With such an absolute interpretation, it is difficult to discuss the contents of faith."

In a letter to the bishop of Assisi in 2006, the Pope spoke of “the limitations of these interreligious meetings." These limitations, Cardinal Tauran believes, were always clear to all. “I believe that this was always very clear," he said, "and even from the beginning: each one prays a different way. This is not syncretism. The dialogue itself presupposes an otherness, a difference. Otherwise, if we were in accord, there wouldn't be dialogue.”

Each party in the dialogue, the cardinal said, “must be concerned with its own spiritual identity. We ourselves have, as Christians, to manifest that Jesus Christ reveals God in a complete and definitive manner."

Cardinal Tauran quoted the pope on the importance of dialogue: “Dialogue with Islam is not an option, but a vital necessity upon which depends our future.”

In hi response, Cardinal Tauran mentioned that while Muslims are permitted to build mosques in Europe, the building of churches is prohibited or banned in many Islamic states. “In a dialogue among believers,” the cardinal said, “it is fundamental to say what is good for one is good for the other."

Monday, October 15, 2007

Pollit, Blumenthal and Rell

Over at the Journal Inquirer, Chris Powell, who has been skewering political gaffers for many years, took a swing at perhaps the most pretentious politician in the state, Attorney General Richard Blumenthal.

The hysteria over the release of David Pollitt into a neighborhood in Southbury had reached the ears of Governor Jodi Rell, who thereupon reached for her Glock.

As the news of Pollitt’s release dribbled out into the media, the neighborhood surrounding Pollitt’s sister’s house, where he was to be domiciled upon his release, grew ever more anxious.

Their anxiety was understandable: Pollitt’s rapes had been vicious, according to cursory media reports, and his sister, who had agreed to serve as a Good Samaritan upon his release, appeared to be convinced that her brother had been unjustly imprisoned for crimes he had not committed.

On the other hand, Pollitt had served his time, and the state of Connecticut had no good reason to refuse to disgorge him from its burgeoning prison population.

Enter Blumenthal, truly a man for all seasons. Perhaps he could convince a judge to suspend every constitutional law on the books, not to mention a few centuries of common law, and recommit to prison a man who had served his sentence and was due for release.

It didn’t work. The judge Blumenthal was nudging, Judge Susan Handy, ruled strictly on the law and told Blumenthal he had no standing in the case. Unlike the attorney general, the authority of judges is hemmed about by legal precedent and common sense. Blumenthal knows no such constraints and wanders where he listeth, like some vast meandering swamp, until he runs up against a judge like Handy, who seeks to constrain him – for about five minutes, and then he is off again to spout before the nearest bank of cameras and reporters.

That is exactly what happened in this case. Following Handy’s unequivocal judgment, Blumenthal was found in front of the court house holding one of his telegenic news conferences.

Earlier Blumenthal, whose aides and assigns search newspapers avidly for any opportunity to be of service, had fed the beast of unthinking reaction by telling reporters that Pollitt “…was convicted of some very heinous and horrific crimes and continues to refuse to acknowledge his responsibility, so there is a very significant reason for the public to be concerned and my job is to protect the public.”

Blumenthal, never easily rebuked, told reporters outside Handly’s courthouse, “Clearly the justice system has failed today to provide the kind of protection the people of Connecticut rightfully expect and deserve.”

In fact, Pollitt would be more constrained and more carefully guarded under the arrangements under which he was to be released than would be the case had he been released to a half way house. It was from a half-way house that paroled prisoners Steven Hayes and Joshua Komisarjevsky lept to rape and incinerate their victims in Cheshire . Blumenthal’s job is only incidentally to protect the public; certainly it is no part of his job description to recommit to prison released prisoners who have served their time.

The real problem in this particular case may be that no sanctions are ever brought to bear against people who facilitate bad decisions. There are lots of fingerprints on Politt’s release. Suppose Pollitt does commit another rape; who, other than his victim and their families, will suffer for it? Pollitt certainly would be recommitted to prison, but what of all the other people responsible for Politt’s presence in Southington , principally legislators who have written laws that put communities in danger from the early release of multiple rapists? That is what people are anxious about. Of course, they are also anxious about Pollitt because they suspect that prison time may not be a corrective if the rapist has not undergone some sort of transforming experience. It’s bothersome that the people who may most successfully affect Pollitt’s future believe he was wrongfully convicted. Those are the fears that have brought people out of their house to protest Pollitt’s early release.

The reaction to the Pollitt case is one more indication that people across the state are not satisfied with laws that seem unable to protect them from vicious predators. This is a hopeful sign. It means the gunpowder of revolution is in the air. And when the people are sufficiently aroused by the inability of their government to provide for their safety, they will not be turning to lawyers and judges for succor.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

The Surge Is Still Working

More depressing news for the anti-war crowd. An Oct. 14 report in the Washington Post, not generally known as a hotbed of neo-cons, has revealed that the surge is working.

“A congressional study and several news stories in September questioned reports by the U.S. military that casualties were down. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), challenging the testimony of Gen. David H. Petraeus, asserted that "civilian deaths have risen" during this year's surge of American forces.

“A month later, there isn't much room for such debate, at least about the latest figures. In September, Iraqi civilian deaths were down 52 percent from August and 77 percent from September 2006, according to the Web site icasualties.org. The Iraqi Health Ministry and the Associated Press reported similar results. U.S. soldiers killed in action numbered 43 -- down 43 percent from August and 64 percent from May, which had the highest monthly figure so far this year. The American combat death total was the lowest since July 2006 and was one of the five lowest monthly counts since the insurgency in Iraq took off in April 2004.”

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Jean D'Arc Lives

According to a story in the Waterbury Republican American by Martin Begnal, the Democrats may have produced their first Jean D’Arc.

Joan Hartley is feeling the whips and scorns of the Democrat Party leadership.

Said Hartman, “"They told me I had to support this, and if I didn't then the benefits of the caucus wouldn't be available to me, and I would lose my committee chair, my office and my parking space."

“This” is the porcine Democrat bonding plan vetoed by Gov. Jodi Rell. Hartley is the lone hold-out preventing an over-ride of the governor’s veto.

And Keith M. Phaneuf of the Journal Inquirer, as usual, gets it right and calls things by their right names.

“Connecticut, which has more than $14.3 billion in bonded debt,” Phaneuf notes, “is one of the most indebted states, per capita, in the nation. And annual payments on that debt are consuming an increasingly large share of the state budget. This fiscal year's debt service is expected to top $1.83 billion, or 10.4 percent of the entire budget.

“The Democrats' bonding package also included more than $230 million in earmarks, often dubbed ‘pork-barrel’ projects by critics.”

The attempt by weak Democrat leaders to seize a piece of the bonding pie to distribute to their minions has, for the moment, been frustrated. Earmarks are special favors distributed by party leaders to the rank and file to compel their vote on questionable bills.

If the Democrat leaders had a rational program to sell to Connecticut citizens, they would not need earmarks.

Calculating Savings

NABR (Non-Partisan Action for a Better Redding) has a better idea, and a calculator to go along with it.

Having set out to improve educational opportunities in Redding, the non-profit volunteer group, with assistance from the Yankee Institute, developed a proposal that would, according to their a descriptive text on their site, provide “a significant grant to those parents who send children to private schools while simultaneously and proportionally reducing the Town budget and thus benefiting all taxpayers, including Seniors without children in school.”

In Joel Barlow, one of Redding’s schools, it cost a student$16,093 to send one student to the school for a year. However, if the student attends a private school instead, the parents receive a $5,364 grant, the town is required to reduce its budget by $5,364 and $5,364 remains with Joel Barlow to support fixed overhead costs such as electricity, heating, etc.

It is an equal opportunity plan that benefits all affected parties.

Students and parents are given a broader choice of schools; parents receive financial support if they choose private schooling; Redding taxpayers benefit because the town budget is reduced; fewer students in public schools reduce the need for expansion, new schools or additions; and, best of all, the resulting competitive pressure benefits students who continue to attend public schools.

In addition to the plan developed in concert with the Yankee Institute, NABR now is offering on its site a calculator that crunches the numbers and discloses how much money any town might save under its plan. The savings are substantial.

For those looking for a better idea in saving money on the spirling costs of public education, both a descriptiuon of the plan as well as the downloadable calculator (along with simple directions) are available at the NABR site.

THE CASE AGAINST GOVERNMENT-RUN SCHIP

“Schip was created in 1997 to help insure children from low-income families, but it has since become a stealth vehicle to expand government control of health care. . . . House and Senate negotiators [have hashed] out a ‘compromise’ that would expand the program by about $35 billion over the next five years (plus a budget gimmick concealing at least $30 billion),” according to a Wall Street Journal editorial of September 24.


The President’s Saturday message was to explain the necessity of his veto of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program bill. Said he, “Unfortunately, 500,000 poor children who are eligible are not enrolled in the program. Several states including Massachusetts , Illinois , New Jersey , Michigan , Rhode Island , and New Mexico spend more SCHIIP money on adults than they do on children. And that is not the purpose of the program. (Federal funds are given as block grants to the states that are free to spend them as they wish.)


“I think the Children’s Health Insurance Program is another step to move toward universal coverage” of the type in Canada , Britain , and France , said Senator Max Baucus. “Everyone realizes that the goal of this legislation moves us a giant step further down the road to nationalizing health care.”


HillaryCare II? Hillary is reported to have told Speaker Denny Hastert that people cannot be trusted to make spending decisions so in her plan there is a “global budget.” Washington would dictate an absolute level of medical spending for the whole society.


President Bush in his Saturday morning radio address on October 6 stated that “one out of every two children who moved onto the government plan would drop private insurance.” Here lies the deep philosophical divide between the health-care insurance plan as originally designed and the plan now moving in the direction of central planning of universal coverage.


Congress’s SCHIP has gradually been moving away from children (defined in the bill as up to 25 years old) who are poor. Middle-income and wealthy children and even adults with no children can be covered where their income is up to $83,000.


Advocates of universal health-care seem not overly concerned about costs as health-care becomes unaffordable with states’ piling on requirements. In New Jersey , insurers must accept all applications (known as “guaranteed issue”). There, it costs a family as much to be insured with a $500 deductible and a 20% co-payment (the insurer pays 80%) as it does to lease a Ferrari, according to Dr. David Gratzer in his book, “The Cure, How Capitalism Can Save American Health Care” (New York: Encounter Books, 2006, $25.95). States mandate requirements. Maine requires that all insurance policies must provide for pastoral counseling. According to the Council for Affordable Health Insurance, in 2004 there were 1,823 benefits mandated by states, including chiropodists (3), marriage therapists (4), massage therapists (4), social workers (28). Some states mandate specific services, e.g., second surgical opinions (ll) and birthing centers with midwives (6).


“Suppose America ’s working poor were having terrible difficulty affording clothes. It would hardly make sense to pass a law compelling them to shop only at Neiman Marcus or Saks Fifth Avenue . Suppose car prices were rising fast. Who would propose outlawing the sale of used cars?” David Frum asks.


The Democrat rebuttal to the President was given by Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, who asserted that SCHILD “will not cost a penny.” Not so, says the President. The plan will run out of money in five years, and Congress will then either have to raise taxes or drop people from the plan.


The fact is that the additional funding needed at the outset of this amendment is planned to come from a huge increase in the cigarette tax. This is a tax on the working poor, who tend to smoke more than upper-income people. An additional source of funding in the House version would come from a reduction in the government subsidy to the rural elderly.


The Republican position is that the Congressional plan is an incremental step toward a socialist government-run health-care for every American. Government-run health-care would deprive Americans of choice and competition that come from the private market, the President said in his address. It would result in rationing, inefficiency, and long waiting lines. It would replace the doctor-patient relationship with dependence on bureaucrats in Washington , D.C. It is the wrong direction for our country. “Ultimately our goal should be to move children who have no insurance to private coverage, not to move children who already have private coverage to government coverage,” he concluded.

by Natalie Sirkin
c2007

Nighty Nite, Russian serial killer

According to a Reuters story, Alexander Pichushkin’s prison bed is uncomfortable.

"I have lots of time to answer questions. But I'm very tired -- my bed is not very comfortable," Pichushkin said.

“If convicted,” according to the story, “Pichushkin could be Russia's most prolific serial killer. Andrei Chikatilo, the 'Rostov Ripper', was convicted in 1992 and executed in 1994 for raping, butchering and in some cases eating as many as 52 people.”

Actually, Pichushkin has miles to go before he catches up with Stalin, breaker of nations and murderer of millions. All this would be obvious if we could convince U.S. Sen Chris Dodd to organize the convening of a new “Nuremberg trial” to be held – my suggestion – somewhere in Ukraine, where Stalin in the 30’s intentionally arranged a famine, the notorious “terror famine,” that swept Ukraine into the soviet orbit.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Come Again?

In an interview with National Public Radio, according to reporter David Welna, U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd “won't be seeking a sixth term in the Senate.”

There must be some mistake, maybe a typo. With a little creative keyboarding “will” very well could become “won’t.”

R.S. Rep Chris Shays recently was roundly criticized for having suggested that he might give up his seat if Republican decision makers did not appoint him to a key chairmanship. Some bloggers went so far as to suggest that that Shays’ demand was a sign of dementia.

Will they say the same of Dodd now that he has threatened to give up his seat in the senate after failing in a presidential campaign?

There must be some mistake – probably a typo.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Rell’s Non-traditional Approach To Bonding

The Democrat’s bonding proposal is understandable only as a campaign strategy.

Speaker of the House Jim Amann argues that Rell need not veto the Democrat bonding plan, busting with unaffordable but delicious goodies, because the governor is authorized by “tradition” to exercise what amounts to a line item veto. If the governor does not like a specific line item in the bonding package, it cannot be passed into law without her approval.

This tradition enables Democrats to front load bond packages with earmarks that will keep Democrat legislators in line, and it has the additional advantage of making the governor appear to be less than caring when she nixes the window dressing funds proposed by generous and compassionate Democrats.

In the best of all possible worlds, bonding would be reserved for capital projects that benefit the whole state, since the interest on bonding is paid by state rather than municipal taxpayers. But, somewhere along the line, the rational boundaries of bonding expanded to include municipal projects, and it was all downhill from there.

Governors, mostly Republicans, used bonding to persuade legislative leaders, mostly Democrats, to soften their hard core positions on bills. Legislators, mostly Democrat, used bonding to whip their troops in line to support bills favored by leaders in the House and Senate. Hey, you want that bridge to nowhere in East Podunck? Okay, you got it – provided you vote in favor of a stinker of a bill that might just put you in Dutch with your constituents; no vote, no bridge. Made an offer of this kind, even legislators of steely purpose and incorruptible principles might be swayed by fatal second thoughts. All state Houses are frat-houses presided over by harried house-mothers attempting, sometimes successfully, to keep the boys and girls from burning down the place. Parceling out goodies is one of Amann’s many benevolent whips.

When Gov. Jodi Rell vetoed the Democrat’s $3.2 billion general-obligation bond package rather than submit to a political process that closely resembles earmarking, she not only violated an honored tradition that for years has kept the legislature in Democrat hands; she lubricated the rhetoric that drives the tradition.

Rell claimed the bond package was larded with special projects requested by legislators, mostly Democrats. Her charge was answered in a major newspaper by Amann. The bond package, Amann pointed out, was little more than a legislative wish list, essentially a campaign document. The wish list could not be actualized unless the bond commission, controlled by the governor, assented to it.

It was like reading the private diary of a porcine young boy with two stomachs who was attempting to convince his mom that she should let him loose in a candy store with her credit card because the proprietor could always exercise his option to refuse to sell him sweets if he bought too much.

Rell’s veto put in Limbo about $1.4 billion in borrowing dedicated primarily for transportation and clean water projects, and this gave Democrats an opportunity to sharpen their campaign rhetoric.

“If the governor is serious about reducing the debt she helped create,” Amann wrote in his op-ed piece, “let her tell the public which town’s school construction, bridge and road repairs, flood control or sewage treatment projects need to be put off.” Amann then asserted that the “targeted community investments” Democrats had included in their bonding package, a slender $145 million, represented “less than 5% of the total bond package.

The claim that rejected bond proposals are negligible when measured against the whole package now threatens to become as traditional as the similar claim that budget cuts are negligible when measured against gargantuan budgets. That claim has helped increase the state’s budget from a pre-income tax bottom line of $7.5 billion to it’s present $16.5 billion within little more than a decade. Bonding packages have increased during the same time period by a similar amount.

Amann often has billed himself as a “fiscal conservative,” a private tradition now overcome by an irresistible itch to increase both the budget and bonding. With fiscal conservatives like Amann at the helm of the House, who needs reckless spenders?

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Hillary Clinton's Reality Based Foreign Policy

Some commentators on the right, among them detested neo-cons, are referring to Hillary Clinton’s foreign policy posture – only a president actually makes foreign policy – as “reality based.”

This is bad news for the bad news bears at DailyKos and other outposts of progressive aversion.

Hillary Clinton has brought into her campaign Michael O'Hanlon, the co-author of “A War We Just Might Win,” the New York Times piece that changed opinion on the war within the reality based community.

O’Hanlon pointed out in his piece that the surge in Iraq was having some positive effects. The surge, the ham-fisted and counterproductive methods of jihadists in places they formerly occupied and perhaps a weariness among Americans with the “can’t do” attitude of the war resistors all have played a role in the reduction of violence in Iraq in September.

Hillary Clinton, when pressed, put it this way when she spoke in mid-September at the Veterans of Foreign Wars 108th annual convention in Kansas City : The surge is working.

''It's working,” she said. “We're just years too late in changing our tactics...We can't ever let that happen again. We can't be fighting the last war. We have to keep preparing to fight the new war.'' And then she did the usual Clinton split: “…the best way of honoring their [those currently serving in Iraq] service is by beginning to bring them home and making sure that when they come home, that we have everything ready for them.”

That last statement may have confused the veterans, but it was plain common sense to political strategists who reason that one cannot become president by appealing solely to those who live and have their being on the edges of the political spectrum.
The notion that the surge was working predictably does not endear Hillary Clinton to the adepts at DailyKos and MoveOn.org, which recently suffered a public relations failure over the question of General David Petraeus’ honor.

One of the reasons Hillary may not be afraid of the kossacks is that they may not be quite as powerful or influential as advertised by head kossak Markos Moulitsas.

Patrick Ruffini on his own blog examined traffic numbers at DailyKos and found they were inflated by about 60%.

But in the end, reality itself will push the Democrats, all but the frothing kossaks and perhaps presidential aspirant Sen. Chris Dodd, to the center. The jihadists themselves are still determining the course of American foreign policy, and they have not given up on destroying New York. Hillary Clinton is a senator in New York.

Place matters.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Something To Cheer About

According to the Counterterrorism Blog, the Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdel-Aziz Al-Asheikh, the most senior Wahhabi cleric in Saudi Arabia, released a religious edict at the beginning of October instructing “Saudis not to leave the Kingdom to participate in jihad – a statement directed primarily at those considering going to Iraq. Al-Asheikh said that he decided to speak up, 'after it was clear that over several years Saudis have been leaving for jihad' and that 'our youth…became tools carrying out heinous acts.' Perhaps even most significantly, Al-Asheikh also addressed potential donors, urging them to 'be careful about where [their money is] spent so it does not damage young Muslims.'"

Baby O

Best Duet ever, Baby O

Thursday, October 04, 2007

MoveOn.org's Pants Are On Fire

A report from the Connecticut Post by Peter Urban suggests that the attempt to defame Army General David Petraeus by MoveOn.org has created a backlash:

“House members voted 341-79 on Wednesday to condemn ‘in the strongest possible terms the personal attacks made by the advocacy group MoveOn.org impugning the integrity and professionalism’ of Petraeus.”

Among those voting in favor of the condemnation were all five Connecticut representatives, including freshman Rep. Chris Murphy. Through direct contributions and independent expenditures, the group provided Murphy with $500,000 for his successful campaign against former Republican Rep. Nancy Johnson.

The U.S Senate, Chris Dodd dissenting, condemned the ad in late September.

Federal Election Commission filings show that MoveOn.org since last year spent more than 90% of $3 million in independent expenditures targeting a dozen Republican candidates, including Rudy Giuliani and John McCain, both of whom are running for president. The group has spent less than $400,000 in independent expenditures supporting Democrats, all of which means that MoveOn.org is very likely the most successful attack machine in the nation. The group specializes in negative ads, the hobgoblin of media editorialists everywhere.

Dodd – who sometimes seems to be running for President of DailyKos and MoveOn.org, two left leaning blogs, chose to distinguish himself by voting in the minority and attacking Rush Limbaugh, the talk show humorist.

In other “follow the money” news, a group tied to Democrat presidential candidate Sen. Hillary Clinton has been fined out of existence by the FEC, according to a report in the Washington Times.

“At least four persons who worked for the America Coming Together (ACT) fundraising group, which the Federal Election Commission recently fined $775,000, work directly for the Clinton campaign or hold top positions with consulting firms hired by it,” the Times reported.

As usual, the group was funded by billionaire moneybags George Soros. ACT misused $70 million in “soft money,” the Times reported, “uncapped donations that aren't supposed to be used to urge election or defeat of a candidate, the FEC determined, saying that some of the money was spent on direct-mail and telemarketing efforts aimed against President Bush and Republicans in key battleground states in 2004.”

There has been no word yet from Dodd on the misuse of funds by Democrats in attack ads on Republicans though, as a presidential contender himself, Dodd is perfectly poised to offer criticism. Perhaps after he finishes paddling Limbaugh’s behind...

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

WAAAAAA!!!

State House of Representatives Speaker Jim Amann didn’t want key Republicans present during a “negotiation” session between Gov. Jodi Rell, himself and President Pro Tem of the Senate Donald Williams, so he did what any other petulant child would have done under similar circumstances: He boycotted the bonding negotiation session. Republican leader John McKinney, banned from the “very cordial” session by Amann, has said that Amann “needs to grow up.” Attending the session along with Rell and McKinney, Amann’s confederate in the senate, the resourceful Williams, has not yet been successful in persuading his counterpart to grow up. One begins to suspect that it’s all part of the William/Amann good guy, bad guy routine.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

China The Hegemon

The irrepressible Christopher Hitchens points a crooked finger at the China, Iran, Cuba, Darfur connection, and manages at the same time to drop a kind word on the Bush administration.