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Showing posts from April, 2005

Understanding Dodd

U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd has vigorously opposed the nomination of John Bolton as a United States U.N. delegate.

This is not the first time Dodd has opposed Bolton, a friend of liberty, and a vigorous critic of Fidel Castro, Kim Jong Il and other dictators. Bolton’s critique of the Cuban and Korean dictators has been unsparing, truthful and very undiplomatic. A diplomat is supposed to be someone whose iron fist is sheathed by a velvet glove. Bolton, some of his critics assert, conceals his iron fist in a mailed glove.

Someone once suggested that the United States might want to offer a carrot to North Korea from time to time, in addition to beating it with a big stick, to which Bolton replied, “I don’t do carrots.” That blunt talk, Trumanesque in its inspiration, frightens the Dickens out of Dodd and others, who believe that the velvet glove of the diplomat should conceal a velvet fist.

In selecting Bolton as a UN delegate, Dodd said, Bush had made a poor choice. His opposition to Bolton has n…

This Way To The Egress: Gov. Rell's Budget

Who put the fox in James Amann’s bosom?

There was the Speaker of the House holding up a written reprimand from Governor Jodi Rell at a news conference and voicing his displeasure: “Let her veto it. Let her get carpal tunnel,” said Amann, engorged with theatrical rage. “I don't care."

In her reprimand, Rell had promised to veto a Democrat budget proposal that increased spending by 13 percent over the next two years. No way, said the governor.

The Democrat proposal also included an attempt to shoot the kneecaps off the state’s spending cap. Democrats have never been comfortable with the cap, a constitutional restraint on spending they were forced to accept in a deal that imposed on Connecticut a new income tax. The restraint on spending was intended to make the tax tolerable to conservative Democrats and wavering liberal Republicans, sometimes called “moderates,” without whose votes the income tax never would have become law.

Rell this year compromised the constitutional provision …

Bishop Smith's Progress

There was nothing ambiguous in the statement released by the six retired Episcopal bishops concerning a decision made by Connecticut Bishop Andrew Smith.

After the consecration of gay Bishop Gene Robinson of New Hampshire, the Anglican Church throughout the world was riven. Here in Connecticut, six priests from the conservative Anglican American council, differing with Smith who supported Robinson’s consecration, petitioned to associate their congregations with a bishop that was, in their view, more orthodox.

Smith’s response was Cromwellian: He delivered to the priests a notice that their removal was imminent – unless they reconsidered and chose to remain affiliated with him, a course of conduct their consciences forbade.

Smith’s letter of removal provoked an ardent response from six retired bishops.

“Bereft of the faith which alone establishes true unity in the Church,” the bishops wrote, “(Smith) now attempts to impose unity by uncanonical coercion against six faithful clergy in his di…

Blumenthal and the Ambiguities

Gov. Jodi Rell pledged to sign the civil union bill now snaking its way through the legislature only on condition that Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, the White Knight of Connecticut politics, assured her that the measure would not allow gay marriage.

Here, as always, language was important. Even though nothing in the bill under consideration “allowed gay marriage,” the bill would not be a barrier to gay marriage – unless there were a provision in the measure that reserved marriage for couples of the opposite sex.

The senate has resisted such language. Many states have adopted constitutional Defense of Marriage Acts (DOMAs) to prevent courts from overturning traditional social conventions such as male, female marriage. States without DOMAs are especially vulnerable to court ordered legislation legalizing same sex marriage.

The Attorney General position in Connecticut historically devolved from the King’s Attorney in colonial times. The attorney general is historically and constit…

Time To Cry "Wolf!"

“The rich are very different from you and me,” F. Scott Fitzgerald once said, to which Ernest Hemingway is said to have replied, “Yes, they have more money."

House Speaker James Amann, D-Milford, the leader of the Democratic caucus, gets half of it.

Amann understands, as do most Democrats, that the rich have more money than you and I. For this reason, and because he and the Democrats have finely honed senses of justice, Amann and his cohorts plan to relieve the rich in Connecticut of some of their assets to help pay for an ever expanding budget. Once again the state has come up short in its budget.

Amazingly, there are Democrats in the state’s legislature who think they have been cutting taxes rather than spending money like the proverbial drunken sailor, though unimpeachable proof of their wild spending spree may be deduced by examining the steadily increasing bottom line of successive state budgets.

The last non-income tax budget was approximately half the bottom line total of …

The Pope

“Crossing The Threshold of Hope” by Pope John Paul II began as an idea for a television interview. Questions that were to serve as a basis for the interview, the first of its kind, were submitted to the pope by Italian journalist Vitorio Messori. But scheduling proved impossible, and the idea was abandoned.

However, not for nothing was John Paul II called “the pope of surprises.” The journalist’s questions, which had engaged the pope’s interest, lay on his desk for some time, and a few months later a large envelope was delivered to Messori. The pope had carefully considered and answered his questions.

It is a deeply philosophical and theological exploration of religious truths-- though, oddly enough, written in easily understood prose -- because the pope himself was a serious intellectual, a man whose faith had been internalized by deep meditation and prayer.

On the Sunday after his death, my wife and I attended church at a Polish mass in Vernon. When the service had been concluded, t…

Good News, Bad News: Watch The Bouncing Employee

The good news is that the bad news of several weeks past wasn’t so bad after all.

One of Connecticut’s number crunchers had said that job growth in the state -- which seems incapable of shaking a bad bout of recession -- was anemic. But the numbers, as it turned out, were mistaken. In fact, job growth was three times greater than had been reported.

Eureka!

The bad news is that the increase in job growth will be much diminished when MetLife, as a result of its acquisition of Travelers Life & Annuity, throws a thousand or more of its Connecticut employees out of the plane without a parachute. Once again, a promising merger has resulted in – What do they call it now? – mass firings. Wait, that language seems too blunt, too raw. How about this: The acquisition and merger has resulted in downsizings?

Downsized employees will feel less put upon with the velvet-gloved verbiage.

The good news is that the bigwigs at Snoopy’s company plan to sit down and hash the matter over with Governor Jodi R…