Skip to main content


Showing posts from 2004

We Wish You A Merry Whatsit

T’is the season to be secular – and litigious.

In Kirkland, Washington, a high school principal this year refused to allow a production of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” because Tiny Tim, the character in the tale who melts the stony heart of Scrooge, was incautious enough to pray, “God Bless everyone.”

The “G” word rarely has been in favor among secularist censors, and this year was no different.

On most occasions, one may expect an eruption of righteous anger when books are banned by school systems that object to ribald language or offensive messages. When Huckleberry Finn was dumped from libraries by timid administrators unnerved by the “N” word, a tortured cry went up from defenders of the First Amendment.

But not this time.

Florida and New Jersey school districts have banned Christmas carols altogether, perhaps fearing the litigious American Civil Liberty Union lawyer hiding under the school nurse’s bed.

In Somerville Massachusetts, the mayor formally apologized to those …

Michael Ross, Governor Jodi Rell and Norman Patiss' Strange Delusion

Norman Pattis, a defense attorney in New Haven has weighed in on Governor Jodi Rell and the Michael Ross case.

What is it about the death penalty, other than its finality, that makes anti-death penalty proponents vacate their craniums when they begin to think about it?

“Michael Ross was sentenced to death almost two decades ago,” Pattis wrote in a recent op-ed column, “and his case has bounced through the court system for more than a decade.”

He almost got it right. The case has been dribbled through the court system by public defenders who, for twenty years after Ross had been prosecuted and found guilty of murdering four women, strung out the litigation through appeals over the objections of their client.

Ross, who murdered eight women, has said that he wants justice to be done, so that the suffering of the families of his victims may be finally resolved. This may be Ross’ finest hour in a life full of murderous deeds.

Ross, Pattis continues, “has declared a desire to end the fight, and …

Michael Ross, The Death Penalty and Connecticut's Press

In a recent column in the Journal Inquirer following Governor Jodi Rell's public announcement that she would not reprieve Michael Ross' death sentence, the paper's editorial editor, Keith Burris, ventured far out when he wrote that Connecticut had no standing in executing Ross, a murderer who strangled eight women, raping most of them.

"I would not blame the loved ones of any of Michael Ross' victims for killing him, and I would not vote to convict any parent of any one of his victims for doing so," Burris wrote.

"Call it an eye for an eye or a crime of passion. Ross' victims and family have standing.

"I also think Ross is entitled to take his own life. (Go for it Mike.)

"But I do not see how the state does. And I do not see how the state upholds justice if the state kills him."

There is a great deal of confusion here, particularly since Burris wrote in the same column that he agreed with Cardinal Bernardin's notion that the Catholic Ch…

A Brief Sermon on Lowell Weicker, Roger Williams and Religion in America

It is not at all surprising that former senator and governor Lowell Weicker, the prime mover in the enactment of an income tax that has doubled state expenditures, should now be spending his twilight years in retirement bemoaning – high taxes. Weicker’s entire public life has been wasted in attempts to pound square pegs in round holes.

In addition to high taxes, Weicker also is troubled by what he perceives as a dangerous and possibly unconstitutional religious resurgence in America, an alarming turn towards faith that apparently has not affected public education administrators in Maryland who, eyes cocked in the direction of mischievous suits brought by the American Civil Liberties Union, have developed curricula pointedly not mentioning that the Puritans were preeminently a religious people who often thanked God for their good fortune – as was the case during Thanksgiving.

“Too many Americans,” Weicker writes in Northeast magazine, a Hartford Courant publication, “have the view that o…

The Coming Reinvention Of The Democratic Party, And What Connecticut Republicans May Learn From It

The reversal of fortunes is too dramatic not to notice.

After the 1990 elections, Democrats held a 267-seat majority in the U.S. House and a 56-seat majority in the senate. These majorities dwindled and vanished during Bill Clinton’s presidency, and today they are nearly reversed. In the post election congress, Republicans will have a 231 or 200 majority in the U.S. House and a 55 or 44 majority in the senate.

In addition, Republicans have moved into the majority in state legislature and governorships. The Democrats were unable to carry a single state in the South, Western Plains or Mountain States, the fortress of Republican electoral power.

Some Democrat Party stalwarts have suggested the trouble lies with the messenger.

Former Democratic National Committee Chairman Steve Grossman said, “We cannot afford to make the perfect the enemy of the good. We have to broaden our base and not have everyone agree with every principle of the party platform. We have to broaden our appeal without viol…

Kerry and the Democrats, the Critical Aftermath

Liberals, who lost spectacularly in the recent elections, are being consoled -- by liberals.

The results are what might be expected. There is no need to abandon, or even examine, the prejudices that led us to dusty defeat, they say, but some minor technical adjustments may be in order.

Stick with your core beliefs, advises Keith Burris, Editorial Page Editor of the Journal Inquirer, but finesse your approach.

What Democrats need is to rediscover and reaffirm the old values, which are as solid as the earth itself. They simply need to get back to Jefferson, Jackson and Roosevelt. They do need to be the party that will make national health insurance happen. They do need to be intellectually honest. For example: No, we cannot balance the budget and universalize health insurance at the same time. That does not compute. But we want to get national health care first. Or, Yes, the war was a mistake. A terrible one. Let's talk about how we undo and correct it. They do need to be aggressive. F…

The Connecticut Republican Party At Ground Zero

State Republicans in Connecticut must be a bit envious of their national party.

Even ardent Democrats who believe that President George Bush is an imbecile – a dwindling number as more and more Republicans are added to the U.S. Congress – allow that the Republicans, led by uber-advisor Karl Rove, the putative brains behind the throne, did a magnificent job in showing Sen. John Kerry the door.

While their national counterparts were expanding their political power, State Republicans were losing seats in the legislature. And only last week Lieutenant Governor Kevin Sullivan, formerly the President Pro Tem of the state senate, acting on behalf of Governor Jodi Rell, who was on a vacation not paid for by state contractors, unburdened himself of the following sentiment:

"It is outrageous that our state would be seen nationally as the place to buy an illegal license. Worse still, it appears that state authorities failed to act for weeks after being informed by the media investigation th…

Why Kerry Lost

It’s doubtful that the average American thinks very much about his own past, let alone the past of his nation’ recent presidents. Most Americans are forward looking; something they have in common with tempest tossed immigrants newly arrived in the land of milk and honey.

During his first campaign against the current president’s father, former president Bill Clinton was careful not to dwell too much on his dubious past: It took awhile for that past to catch him up with the fleet footed Clinton and grab him by the throat.

Clinton’s first campaign was grounded firmly in the insubstantial future. The past belongs to history and may be, especially to those who have lived in it, a twilight shrouded, dangerous terrain. The future belongs to the imagination and is made of “frogs and snails and puppy dog’s tails.” As boys -- who will be boys -- enter their maturity, their pasts, so the poem tells us, are transmuted to “sighs and leers, and crocodile tears.”

If John Kerry didn’t get himself a rosy…

Rep. Chris Shays Exposes French Perfidy

One question not seriously pursued during the presidential debates concerns the perfidy of trusted allies with respect to the United Nation’s Food for Oil program.

In the future, how would presidential candidates John Kerry or George Bush prevent rogue states such as Saddam Hussein’s Iraq from turning UN Oil for Food programs into Oil for Weapons programs?

The Oil for Food program was designed to ease social conditions in Iraq by permitting Saddam’s government to buy food and supplies for the country he methodically plundered. But the program was early on subverted by Saddam through a voucher system that rewarded state officials in various countries for political favors.

According to a story featured in the “Washington Times,” Patrick Kennedy, a representative to the United Nations for management and reform, told the House Government Reform subcommittee on national security, emerging threats and international relations that some member states had “resisted” efforts to put an end to bribe…

The Future of Political Parties and the Utopianists

We all know that after reading a news account of his own demise, Mark Twain advised, “Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.” In much the same way, reports that political parties are languishing on their deathbed may be greatly exaggerated – or not.

In this talk, I’d like to take you to the early nineteen hundreds and back again to the twenty-first century, so that we might have a rounded historical view of political parties and how they changed over the years.

I should begin by putting before you two propositions that few people here may disagree with.

The first is that political parties are necessary. The second is that no party can be successful unless it can maintain itself – financially and organizationally.

It will come as no surprise that there are dissenters to the first proposition. Some people believe that political parties are an encumbrance to good government. It may be an instance of advanced hubris, but there are political writers abroad in the land who believe t…

Lowell Weicker Comes Up For Air

Just when you think things can’t get worse, things get worse.

Today – Sunday, October 17 – I went to fetch my Hartford Courant from its bright blue box. Carrying the five pound thing into the house is something of a chore. It usually takes me ten minutes to weed out the ads and fillers, after which I toss out sections I never read, about three quarters of the paper. Next, I gingerly skip over the usual liberal blabmeisters – Colin McEnroe, for one, though the paper is lush with them– at which point the thing becomes manageable and more readable.

Northeast Magazine is usually dense with liberal fodder, but Kevin Rennie, once a Republican legislator, is sometimes elegantly articulate in his regular column.

Not today.

Rennie, who quickly learned how to make himself indispensable to his liberal handlers at the Courant, launched a paean to Chris Dodd, rather as if the longtime U.S. senator could not retain his seat without plaudits from a moderate Republican. And McEnroe, always toxic when do…

Direct Primaries and the Ends Of Good Government

A distressed liberal writes in a recent column that direct primaries are not working.

Direct primaries were “a dud” the columnist declared and added, “For years, we good-government types had banged the drum for election reform. Oh, how we thundered and roared. Outlaw the practice of candidates being chosen in smoke-filled back rooms, we pleaded. Drive a stake through the hearts of party bosses. Put an end to the humiliating and costly system of forcing contenders to beg for delegate support. Dismantle the incumbency-protection system. Reinvigorate our democratic institutions by allowing candidates to circumvent rigged conventions and petition directly onto the primary ballot.

“So what was the result?

“Of Connecticut's 187 legislative and five congressional districts, a grand total of one person petitioned onto the ballot: Republican Raymond Collins III of West Haven, who was seeking the House seat being vacated by his father. “

All this is very sad, but predictable. Has ever an el…

The Impeachment And Resignation Of Governor John Rowland

Governor John Rowland two days ago threw himself on the mercy of the media.

In a written statement, Rowland admitted he had mislead the state's Capitol Press Corp and abjectly apologized. And what was the result?

It was predictable, after his stunning confession, that he would be publicly mutilated. Nothing so arouses the media as public confessions of deceit.

Two newspapers called for his resignation, firebrand liberals demanded the governor be impeached, and other leading Democrats asked that Rowland step down until federal authorities have completed their investigations.

Much of the heavy fire came on Sunday, Dec. 13, 2003.

The Hartford Courant ran two stories on page one under the headline "Tomasso Oversaw Cottage Work." One sub-headline read "Contractors: He Hired Them While His Company Sought State Job," and the other read "Rowland: Democratic Leaders Say Governor is 'Looking Into That Opened Pit."

According to the story, William Tomasso "per…