Sunday, March 30, 2014

Social Issues And The Coming Campaign


A few weeks ago, Governor Dannel Malloy said that people in Connecticut would have to wait until May to discover whether he would run again as governor. He then surprised everyone by tossing his hat into the ring during a recent bond hearing meeting. In fact, the campaign had begun much earlier; the cake was baked even though it lacked the cherry on top. Before his official declaration, Mr. Malloy had said he was much too busy running the state to engage prematurely in a political campaign. He told one reporter that it would be inopportune for him to engage in a political campaign before Republican gubernatorial aspirants had an opportunity to beat up on each other? The pretense was a great tease, strategically necessary but still an obvious imposture.

The Republican gubernatorial field has now been fully fleshed out. Martha Dean, who previously had engaged in campaigns for the Attorney General, was a little late, but she got in before the door closed.

Joy Blasts Through


I’ve run this one before – now again, just to show the power of joy as Beethoven catches it in his "Ode to Joy.” The kids on the street in Som Sabadell square, just north of Barcelona, Spain, seem to have got the idea. One tosses some coins in a hat and steps back in expectation; another climes a lamp post. But they all participate in joy – never shy, always boastful. I try to imagine Beethoven tossing on his pillows with this blast of joy trumpeting his blood. Joy, which seeks unity, blows all lesser emotions to smithereens.

Monday, March 24, 2014

A Kennedy For Connecticut?


State Senator Edward Meyer of the 12th District has decided, following nine year run in the General Assembly,  to call it a day.

A New Haven paper is reporting that Ted Kennedy Jr. will decide within two weeks whether he wishes to occupy the soon to be vacant seat. Mr. Kennedy is the son of the late Massachusetts Senator Edward Kennedy.

The Ghost Monologues, Caligula, Stalin And Kim: Men Like Gods

Caligula




So, I have become a ghost, the nearest I shall ever be to a God again; for, in life, I was a God. Divinity, you know, is the highest form of politics. What is higher or nobler than a God? … But wait: Nobility has nothing to do with it, as if nobility and Godliness could ever share the same stage; a God is above that sort of thing.


As a former Emperor – now, God and ghost – everything for me was permissible, and understandable. I comprehend by grasping my subject from the inside; nothing was alien to me. I am solid as earth now because I know everything; I am in everything, and everything is in me. That is how I know; through a process of identity and self-revelation. I become the thing I want to know – say, a tree, or a young boy, or a virgin – and then, at will, I revert to Godliness.

Malloy, Master Court Packer


A Hartford paper has noted in an editorial that Governor Dannel Malloy, the chief executive of Connecticut’s one-party state, is packing courts with Democratic appointments.  Of the nominees “to fill vacancies on the Superior Court bench and two judges to serve on the Appellate Court,” Mr. Malloy has chosen from a list presented to him by the Judicial Selection Commission eighteen (18) Democrats and zero (0) Republicans. 

In its gently reproving editorial, the paper remarked on the imbalance: “The dramatic partisan imbalance in Mr. Malloy's class of 18 doesn't necessarily mean any of those nominated are unqualified to serve. Each was, in fact, found qualified after an investigation by the Judicial Selection Commission, which prepares a list from which the governor chooses his nominees.”

Friday, March 21, 2014

Connecticut’s Media-Progressive Complex: Or -- It’s The Spending, Not The Taxes, Stupid


The progressive wing of the Democratic Party, now in the ascendency in Connecticut, has been trying to “reform” the tax system ever since it was last reformed in 1991 by then Governor Lowell Weicker, the father of Connecticut’s income tax.

In the course of its story, CTMirror quotes William Cibes, identified as “state budget director under Weicker and also co-chairman of the finance committee in 1989-90,” on property taxes. Mr. Cibes recently testified before the General Assembly’s Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee, which in the next few weeks will endorse a measure “that could launch a top-to-bottom analysis of how Connecticut taps taxpayers’ wallets.” Mr. Cibes testified that “high property taxes are a major reason why Connecticut’s tax system is broken. So property tax relief would lessen the economic burden on businesses, municipalities and individuals… Property taxes are relatively stable. But when a state relies excessively on property taxes to fund important services like education, infrastructure and public safety, businesses and individuals are punished.”

Monday, March 17, 2014

Pesci, Guest Speaker in Westbrook



I’ll be the guest speaker at the 2014 Holbrook Awards Dinner, a yearly event put on by the Westbrook Republican Town Committee.

The Dinner will be held on Friday, May 9th in Westbrook at Water's Edge Inn and Resort. This year the Republican Town Committee will honor Lester Scott and State Representative Marilyn Giuliano.


Toward A Politics Without Borders


Who shapes politics? The question is not quite so easy to answer as it may seem. In what some politicians consider the good old days, politics was fashioned by the public official running for office, a handful of political associates, party leaders and a few old boys in the establishment media network.

In the modern period, party bosses have all but disappeared; the media network has expanded to include, comedians, Hollywood starlets and bloggers; both political parties have been shorn of much of their power through campaign reforms; primaries have made party convention decisions much less decisive; and politicians – if they are not incumbents – may have half a dozen reasons for entering the campaign jousts.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Malloy’s Non Campaign For Governor: Are We Detroit Yet?


Governor Dannel Malloy’s non-campaign for governor is an insider joke among virtually all Connecticut journalists. If it talks like a campaign, is attended by prominent politicians and holds media availabilities at the home of U.S. Representative Rosa DeLauro – it’s a campaign.

Mr. Malloy’s non-campaign status allows him to shrug off as pointless the usual campaign confrontations among viable candidates. His is a stealth campaign that permits his campaign designers to preview possible themes without making commitments to specific proposals.

Until May, when he will formally unfurl his campaign banners, Mr. Malloy’s campaign will be on hiatus. Specific questions put to him by Connecticut’s news media will be handled by functionaries or out of pocket strategists such as former gubernatorial spokesman Roy Occhiogrosso, a Vice President of Global Strategy. These responses – because they cannot be attributed directly To Mr. Malloy -- will be non-committal and every bit as inscrutable as the declarations of the Oracle at Delphi.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Suzio Calls For Mike Lawlor's Resignation


Says Lawlor responsible for "cover up" of dangerously flawed "Early Release" law
Early Release criminals implicated in at least 3 murders



Date: March 13, 2014

For immediate release:



Former State Senator Len Suzio, Connecticut's leading critic of the Early Release program, called for the resignation of Undersecretary for Criminal Justice, Mike Lawlor. Describing Lawlor as “Connecticut’s number one apologist for violent criminals, and the architect and chief defender of a dangerously flawed law." Suzio also said that Lawlor has consistently misled the public about the dangers of the program in an effort to "cover up" the flawed policy.

"Mike Lawlor has consistently used equivocal statistics to bamboozle the media and mislead the public about this dangerous law. But no statistic can cover up the fact that at least 3 Early Release convicts have been implicated in the murder of innocent citizens. Only 2 weeks ago I accompanied the grieving family of Ibrahim Ghazal to Court to watch the sentencing of Frankie "the Razor" Resto, a violent criminal let loose under Early Release, who had pleaded guilty to the cold-blooded murder of their husband and father. Mr. Lawlor's phony statistics are no comfort to the Ghazal family," Suzio said.

"The most sacred responsibility of law makers and law enforcers is to protect our families against violent criminals such as Frankie 'the Razor' Resto. Equally important is for public officials to be honest with the public. Undersecretary Mike Lawlor has failed the public on both counts. Today, I call upon Mike Lawlor to resign from office. As the chief architect and front line defender of this flawed and dangerous law Mr. Lawlor ought to pay the price and resign from office", Suzio insisted. "To Mr. Lawlor I say, '3 murders and numerous other crimes committed by violent criminals prematurely released from prison on your watch.  It’s time for you to go'”, Suzio continued.

"Finally, I call upon the Legislature to immediately repeal 'Early Release' for all violent convicts. Every day our families are exposed to dangerous criminals who have been sprung from Connecticut prisons to prey upon the innocent. It's time to recognize that this law is flawed and dangerous and must be repealed," Suzio concluded.

Len Suzio is a member of the Victim Advocate Advisory Board for the State of Connecticut

__________________

MORE ON LAWLOR HERE

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Dean Enters The Gubernatorial Race


Attorney Martha Dean – Colin McEnroe calls her “old blue eyes”  – is the equivalent in Connecticut of Sarah Palin nationally, the woman from the wrong side of the political tracks who those fighting the “war against women” love to denigrate. The abhorrence is palpable, and possibly a bit misogynistic. Hartford Courant columnist Rick Green, recently departed to Vermont, way back in June 2010 referred to Ms. Dean as “a heat-seeking Republican missile” and “the blonde gunslinger.” Captivated by the color of her eyes, Mr. Green referred with disdain to the “cyborg-like quality to Dean's tractor-beam blue eyes.” The “blonde gunslinger,” it is well known, regards the U.S. Constitution with some reverence, and this appears to have excited Mr. Green’s barely concealed contempt.

The difference between Mrs. Palin and Ms. Dean is that Ms. Dean is brighter, a more accomplished rhetorician, and, according to Mr. McEnroe, a trifle dangerous: “… I know it’s not a good day when you find out you gotta run against Martha.”

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Gun Control, The Malloyalist Molotov Cocktail, Detroit Or Bust


The premise of Connecticut’s new gun control legislation is that crimes committed illegally with guns may be controlled by such measures as requiring once licit gun owners to register their guns. That premise is doubtful, to say the least.

Connecticut’s new gun control legislation felonizes the ownership of a gun that has not been reported to the state police. According to recent stories, the state is awash in new felons, none of whom have committed violent crimes with their weapons. Among the new felons are some who have failed to register their guns from inadvertence, others who have failed to register for reasons of principle, and still others who are determined to treat the new law in the same way as those who drive cars with expired licenses. This last group is willing to spin the roulette wheel, knowing in advance that they are not likely to commit crimes and so come to the notice of an arresting authority.

Saturday, March 08, 2014

What For, Foley?


Most people in Connecticut who still get their news from newspapers, an ever diminishing number, have never attended a press conference.

Sometimes an unexpected rumpus enlivens the event. At a conference launching a study released by the Connecticut Policy Institute (CPI), one reporter, having been upstaged by a questioner, reminded all present, around thirty curious onlookers, that HE was a member of the press and thereafter left the room huffily, his neck stretched out like a cobra’s.

“Who was that? “asked several people who had not had the pleasure of making his acquaintance.  “I hope he’s alright?”

Tom Foley, a Republican running for governor, was at the event lending unction to the presentation. In brief stories filed the same day, it was noted by virtually every reporter that CPI had been financed by Mr. Foley. This was not news to anyone in the room, including the cobra who departed in a vaporous cloud of righteous indignation, although it may surprise some to learn that apart from providing seed money to CPI in 2011, Mr. Foley has made no further contributions to the organization -- which is financially independent of him.

No matter, the old news dominated most stories. The substance of the presentation was touched upon only fleetingly – which was a pity because the report was carefully researched and contained data that signaled a new turn for some Republican gubernatorial hopefuls.

Friday, March 07, 2014

Towards A TR Conservative Republican Party


Many people may be surprised to hear that President Teddy Roosevelt, the Bull Moose megaphone and the first serious presidential progressive, was a Republican.

It is Teddy that prevents the term “Republican activist” from becoming an oxymoron. There is no question that TR –- some call him the good Roosevelt -- was what we should call “an activist.”

In the post-Ronald Reagan period -- the present era of a boisterous modern progressive party led nationally by President Barack Obama and here in Connecticut by the ubiquitous Governor Dannel Malloy -- some Republicans are beginning to ask dangerous questions: For instance, what would the policies of an activist Republican look like? Is it possible to imagine an activist conservative government that would carry us far from the modern progressive and destructive bonfire?

Thursday, March 06, 2014

Two Young Republicans


First a disclaimer: Nothing in this piece should be taken as a formal endorsement of the candidates mentioned below. In more than thirty years of column writing, the author has never made a formal endorsement, and it would be a pity to ruin a perfect record.

That said, it’s almost impossible to avoid noticing that the Republican Party in Connecticut has been crowded lately with young blood, not to mention the women upon whom Republicans are supposed to have declared war. This is partly the result of the Republican Party’s years in the wilderness.

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Ukraine, Yanukovych’s Day Of Fear



Vladimir Putin has been preparing for this moment ever since the Berlin Wall, like Humpty Dumpty, came tumbling down. The eight oil pipe lines that run across Ukraine from Russia to Europe traverse sacred ground, for it was Ukraine that bore the brunt of Josef Stalin’s man made famine in 1932-33.

Germany – which, unlike Ukraine, is a part of NATO – may have forgotten its Berlin Wall. It’s been twenty seven years since former President Ronald Reagan visited Germany and shouted to free Western Germans within sight of the Brandenburg Gate, “Mr. Gorbechev, tear down this wall.”

Monday, March 03, 2014

Fire Lawlor

  
On Friday, February 28, Frankie “The Razor” Resto was sentenced by Superior Court Judge Patrick Clifford to 53 years in prison for having murdered Abraham Ghazal.

Mr. Resto had earlier rejected a plea arrangement, which must have caused Governor Dannel Malloy’s prison czar, Michael Lawlor, a moment of worry. Trials are unpredictable public presentations. One never knows what skeleton from what closet might pop out at you in the public arena.

All the possible skeletons disappeared when Mr. Resto and his lawyer, Glenn Conway, agreed to palaver with the state and arrive at a plea arrangement satisfactory to both.

Sunday, March 02, 2014

Lisa

For most of us who knew her, it was impossible to imagine Lisa sick – before she became sick. To do so would have required a leap of imagination most of us are incapable of, because she was the epitome of health. A sheer cliff or a long hike was a temptation she rarely resisted. It was always this way with her.

My earliest memory of Lisa involved a brief walk when she was, as the proverb has it, “knee high to a grasshopper.”

My mother had said to me in that “suggestive tone” none of us safely ignored, “Why don’t you take Lisa for a walk?” And so I did. She was around 7 at the time, the age of reason.

The walk – from the Pesci homestead on 1 Suffield Street in Windsor Locks, down North Main Street, up Chestnut Street, through Pesci Park, though it was not called Pesci Park at that time, down Center Street, where my Uncle John and Aunt Nellie lived, across North Street and back home, the Grand Central Station of both the Pesci and Mandirola clans – was a trip that would last about a half hour, time enough for Rose to complete whatever task she had that day set herself. It was not washing windows, because I usually did that, while my twin sister Donna and my elder brother Jim loafed and “took their ease,” like Walt Whitman did before stretching himself out in a poem. I should explain that, over the years, there has been a lively debate among the Pesci clan who exactly was loafing and who was working. The dispute is ongoing.

Because Lisa was so tiny, the span between her outstretched legs much shorter than my own, I thought: This is gonna take a while. But I was ready for a leisurely tramp. The night before, I had read portions of Henry David Thoreau’s Walden Pond, a text first “suggested” to me by Mrs. Smith, a High School English teacher whose “suggestions” could no more be resisted than those of my mother or father:

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”

There were woods in Windsor Locks, and a Basin, and a canal, back yards to tramp through on your way to some appointed end, though one had to be very careful whose yard you crossed before arriving at your destination. To cross some yards was to cross the owners of the properties, and some of them were very cross indeed.

Lisa and I took the road more traveled. There was a path leading to the park that my sister and I had crossed daily on our usual route to St. Mary’s School. When I was as young as Lisa – there is about a 15 year difference in our ages – that path was a mystery leading to a mystery. Anything might be at the end of it. Hills are like this; they mask mysteries. Even today, when I see a bare farmer’s hill kissing the sky, I wonder what giants lie behind it. And I could see in Lisa’s eyes as we approached this path the excitement of a mystery lying out of sight – over the hill.

Just before the path was a fierce brook foaming under out feet, then the path. You had almost to turn a corner to meet the path. Trees hid everything. But as you turned the corner, the whole high hill jumped out at you. And this day it surprised us both. Such an autumn I have never seen since. It was as if some fauvist had thrown his paints on the scarlet and yellow trees. Well now, wonder is an emotional stop; the world may have been racing by you like a film unscrolling, but wonder stops it so your soul can take a picture of it. The hill was golden, the trees were blazing.

“Look, Lisa. Look at the leaves.”

And she: “They die into such pretty colors.”

It’s not often you have an opportunity to take a stroll with a seven year old poet.

Since then, Lisa many times took the road less traveled, tramping here and there,  climbing sheer rock cliffs for the purpose, I liked to think, of spying on the giants on the other side of the hill.

She lived deliberately; she fronted the essential facts of life – never more than when she was attacked internally.

The hateful thing about Lisa’s sickness was that it rendered her untouchable. Her immune system was compromised by her treatment. For more than a year, she could be touched only with words.

Lisa died on Sunday, March 2 at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.

Her family – mother and father, brothers and sister, sisters-in-law, brother-in-law, a slew of nieces and nephews, aunts and uncle – had all visited her. In the face of a vicious assault of cancer -- three separate assaults, in fact, each more aggressive than the one preceding it – we were all helpless.

My wife Andree pointed to this helplessness when she wrote Madelyn and Jim, Lisa’s mother and father, “The silence you hear from us (all us others, who are NOT you, Madelyn and Jimmy) or the vague, unpenetrating, inadequate words we stumble to utter – Well, it’s all we can do, too. We do it for Lisa and for you. We love, that’s all, and let our hands fall to our sides – and pray.”

Every day of her visits, her sister Jennifer read to Lisa the communications she was receiving, sometimes hourly, from her many friends and co-workers.

One of her friends sent her a picture, hauntingly beautiful, of fresh snow that had fallen on an empty street in New York, guarded by two soldierly rows of trees. In that white expanse, one could almost hear the murmuring of angels, who speak to us when we are helpless, our arms dropped uselessly by our sides.

The picture was captioned, “The snow is waiting for you.”

Lisa heard all the hopes and encouragements of her friends and family. She felt the warmth of all. She attended to the words of her friends.

She saw the picture of the snow that was waiting for her. Her breath filled the plastic oxygen mask she defiantly removed. She smiled. And the rest of us prayed.

Ah yes, but God has so arranged the universe that all bright memories are prayers. And every word directed to you my dear Lisa, who fronted life bravely and who, though suffering much and long,  still smiled at autumn leaves, is a prayer that travels two ways – first to you from those who love you, your family and so many good friends, and then through your suffering to One who paints the leaves in brilliant colors.


Saturday, March 01, 2014

Vote Buying And The Minimum Wage Gambit


For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction – Newton’s Third Law of Motion

The best way to persuade someone in Connecticut to vote for you is to buy their vote. Progressives, who nowadays take money from the middle class and give it to one-percenters, do this with a certain reckless abandon: Does anyone truly believe that that Aetna Insurance Company really needed the money given to it by Governor Dannel Malloy to survive?

Of course there are problems when the money to purchase a vote in Connecticut is taken from taxpayers who, given the parlous state of the economy after the Democratic hegemon has taken its share, are drowning in high taxes and liberty strangulating regulations.

To be sure, the debts of the average Connecticut taxpayer are considerably less than those of national taxpayers following four years on President Barack Obama’s economic death row. But almost always the state taxpayer and the national taxpayer are one and the same person, since federal and state taxes are paid out of the same pockets.