Monday, September 26, 2011

September Notes On A Failed State

People on the right and left tend to be interested in categorical clarity. The Democratic left dearly wants Democratic Party to means something different than the Republican Party, an ambition shared by those on the right. When the revolution finally arrives, so called moderates – protean shape shifters in both parties who are sometimes this, sometimes that – will all go to the wall should either group have its way.


Moderation in New England is a failed enterprise. The last “moderate” representative in the U.S. Congress was Chris Shays. None of the members of Connecticut’s former U.S. Congressional delegation were men and women of the right. All were moderates. All have gone the way of the Pallid Beach Mouse, a darling critter native to Florida now thought to be extinct. The PBM disappeared sometime after elderly New Englanders began to flock to Florida in search of golf courses, a stable tax system, a sane regulatory environment and a non-predatory state government.

After his defeat at the hands of a “moderate” Democrat, present U.S. Rep Jim Himes, Shays shook the dust of Connecticut from his feet and moved south. The migratory instincts of the average New Englander have pushed the breed below the Mason-Dixon Line. Out of office politicians, if they are relatively young, still must put bread on the table, and there are resources to be “advantaged” near the Washington D.C. hub. When Chris Dodd, long a fixture in the U.S. Senate, finally threw in the towel, having decided he would not defend his seat against red in tooth and claw Republicans and lean and hungry Democrats, Mr. Dodd pronounced that he would never – no, never – accept a position as a lobbyist. A couple of months after this brave and uncompromising announcement, Mr. Dodd was recruited by Tinseltown to represent Hollywood before his regulatory fellows in the U.S. Senate. Instantly, he became a millionaire, exciting the envy of both Warren Beatty and U.S. Senator Harry Read.

In Connecticut, all the grey heads are gone. U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman, the politician most reviled by the left in his state, will retire when his term is up, which will leave newly-minted Senator Dick (as he now prefers to be called) Blumenthal as the state’s senior senator. Mr. Blumenthal is little more than a highly decorated self-made mask.


The state of the media in Connecticut remains what it always was, an annex of the Democratic Party. However, in our present one party state – following the successful gubernatorial election of then Dan (now Dannel) Malloy, the entire political structure of state government is owned by the Democratic Party – it becomes inconvenient for the publishers of newspapers to own up to their ideological bent and, here and there, one finds furtive attempts on the part of the media to show itself unbiased and non-partisan. These attempts usually end in farce.

A friend – let’s call him Soren -- who has written for the media for years puts it this way:

“Reporters, editors and publishers in the state, uniformly leftist, sometime plead that, while they have biases, they are capable of subduing them and writing fairly about political issues. It may be, but I think not. In any case, what is needed, in order to put before the public a balanced view of the political theatre, is an equal number of conservative actors in the media who, likewise, claim to be able to subordinate their political views. This is impossible – because the media in the state has become an ideologically incestuous club to which conservatives never have been invited. All the members of this exclusive club vote the same, think the same about political issues, sit in the same secular pew and, wearily day after day, preach the same sermon to a flock that has become hostile to their doxology. They are intellectual frauds. And they are the worst kinds of frauds – because they genuinely think themselves fair and impartial. The corrective for all this is ideological bifurcation. Forget altogether the false front of ideological disinterestedness – and just hire some conservative reporters and editors. The media in Connecticut will not do this, because those who live in a Potemkin Village prefer false fronts to quarrelsome households. At bottom, Connecticut’s media is a pretentious, autocratic fraud.”

This criticism may be a little severe, but it lies close to the nub.


Dining with Otto. At the GoldRoc Diner in West Hartford – best sausages in the state – while eating breakfast, Otto (not his real name) leans over to me and protests in a breathless whisper, “It is important not to have an attractive waitress disturb your breakfast, especially when you are discussing political matters that demand focus.”

I agree, reluctantly. It is always fatal to discourse to disagree with Otto, because then he clams up. Best to let him jabber on. He’ll get to the point sooner or later. Sometimes there is no point. But why must pleasant conversations always end in a point?

“You must not allow Eros and politics to mix.”

“It would have been beneficial had whatshisname, the sex-texter U.S. Rep. in New York, (Anthony Weiner) followed that precept.”

Otto laughs, a rasp something between a cough and a snicker.

“Right. Weiner, perfect name.”

The waitress – not unpleasant looking, but no Hollywood knockout either – comes to take our order. She is efficient and quick.

“Just think of the fallen, and those serial divorce and marriage politicians who have given way to Eros. I’ve been reading Hesiod.”

“And you, a respected politician. Haven’t you got better things to do? The stock market collapsed again yesterday.”

“Well, you know that Hesiod was one of the oldest of all Greek sources. According to him, Eros was a primeval god, the fourth god to come into existence; he follows Chaos, Gaia and Tararus. And Parmenides, supposedly the world’s first philosopher, following Hesiod by 300 years, holds that Eros was the first of all the gods to come into existence. Such was Eros’ importance to the Greeks. Of course, the erotic idea is important for Christianity too. But our post pagan moderns don’t pay much attention to this disturber of the marital bed. You wonder: What will it take to make them pay sufficient attention, if not homage, to this ancient god.”

“Better schools? Large doses of Augustine? I don’t know.”

Just then, our breakfasts are brought to us by a Rubenesque, not unpleasant looking waitress. After she has left, Otto wonders whether she is enrolled in a weight loss class.


Linda McMahon a few days ago threw her hat once again into the political ring. She will run for Senator Joe Lieberman’s soon to be vacant seat in the U.S. Congress. On the left, the media is once again preparing to draw their long knives out of their scabbards. Mrs. McMahon’s background as CEO of World Wide Wrestling (WWW), since renamed World Wide Entertainment (WWE), has freed much of the left of the necessity of thinking seriously about her positions, such as they are and will be, on important issues. Video clips will be deployed against her, as was the case in her last campaign, in lieu of trenchant criticism.

The cast of characters this time around will be different: Attorney General Richard Blumenthal has moved up in the world into the U.S. Senate. He was a formidable opponent for a number of reasons. The Attorney General’s reputation as the St. George of Connecticut politics was difficult for a Republican candidate to overcome. All that popularity, most of which was self-generated in a series of seemingly endless and self-absorbed press releases, tends to clot the analytical synapses of voters brains. Going in, Mr. Blumenthal, trailing behind himself a cloud of murk, enjoyed what turned out to be an insuperable advantage. Mr. Blumenthal lied, several times, concerning his service in the military. He said he had served in Vietnam when he had not and was caught out by the New York Times and others.

The imposture did him no good, but he hid out while some in the media were stalking him and survived the ordeal un-decapitated. When as a newly minted senator Mr. Blumenthal applied for a position on a committee overseeing veteran affairs, none of his comrades in the congress blinked. Mr. Blumenthal is now, as is said in the Icelandic sagas, “out of the story.” And whatever may be said of Democrats vying for Lieberman’s seat, neither of U.S. Rep Chris Murphy’s likely primary opponents, including former Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz, are Mr. Blumenthal.

The 2012 campaign script is likely to be different as well. President Barack Obama, the lodestone of the last presidential election, has, according to polls even in bluer than blue Connecticut, fallen out of favor. Mr. Obama’s positives have crashed along with the economy, and no one in Connecticut expects the economy to improve any time soon. As jobs go, so goes the presidency. Some so called “moderate” Democrats in the congressional delegation have put a three foot pole between themselves and their Democratic president; as the economy continues to go sour, the pole, like Pinocchio’s nose, will elongate.


The difference between Republicans and Democrats: Democrats, as a general rule, are concerned with creating jobs, preferably stamped “made in Washington,” for they are not interested in fostering, for example, energy jobs tied to forms of energy they wish to discredit. Republicans are concerned with increasing prosperity, and continued prosperity depends to a large extent on an interrupted supply of developed energy products. Democrats want to regulate everything but government. Republicans are interested in regulating and reducing those governmental operations that they perceive as ties binding down a no longer competitive Gulliver, the private economy. Democratic programs of a “made in Washington” variety privatize the rewards of companies too big to fail, while at the same time socializing debt, which is assumed by taxpayers. Taxpayers thus bear the costs incurred by failed too big to fail companies while earned profits, including taxpayer subsidies, are parceled out to failed CEOs and somnolent boards of directors. In the next election, Republicans will be confronted with the following rhetorical conundrum: How to reduce the above paragraph to a bumper sticker?


A Real Soldier. What follows is part of a brief biographical sketch of Justine Bernier, a Republican who is running for the U.S. Congress in Connecticut’s 5th District that compares favorably with the fictional bio of Senator Dick Blumenthal, here featured in an Australian documentary on stolen valor.
“Justin Bernier volunteered for military service after 9/11 and was commissioned in the U.S. Navy as an intelligence officer. Bernier served at the Defense Intelligence Agency and, in 2007, was mobilized for a tour of duty in Afghanistan. He was stationed on the ground in Kabul and was awarded the Joint Service Commendation Medal for his service. After returning home from Afghanistan, Bernier was named Executive Director of the Office of Military Affairs by Governor M. Jodi Rell, and was unanimously confirmed by the state senate. Under Bernier’s leadership of the Office of Military Affairs, the State of Connecticut reached a historic agreement with the U.S. Navy in order to improve Submarine Base New London and avoid a future shutdown. Bernier also battled to pass legislation that would allow U.S. service members to vote electronically when deployed overseas. Bernier was Chairman of Connecticut's Military and Defense Advisory Council, an unpaid group of experts committed to helping the state's workers, veterans and military families. He also served on the state's Council on Education for Children in Military Families. Bernier is currently a Lieutenant in the U.S. Navy reserve. He remains active in the veteran community as a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, an organization widely recognized for its charitable activities across Connecticut.”
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