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Showing posts from October, 2005

Sullivan Agonistes

In one respect, Connecticut’s Lieutenant Governor’s position is similar to the office of Vice President of the United States, famously described by John Nance Garner, who gave up his position as Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives to run as Vice President in the Franklin Delano Roosevelt administration, as “not worth a bucket of warm spit:” Both positions leave its occupants with lots of time on their hands. Idle time sits heavily on the shoulders of Lieutenant Governor Kevin Sullivan, once president pro tem of the senate, now a wilting Napoleon at Elba, gnashing his teeth and plotting a return to power. Like vice presidents, lieutenant governors preside over the senate and are traditionally support persons. But one can hardly expect Sullivan, a Democrat who once led the loyal opposition in the senate against former Governor John Rowland, to ease the way for current Republican Governor Jodi Rell. There is no future for a Democrat in that sort of sycophancy. Both the governo

Dodd Bill of Immunity for Journalists

Asked what he would do if he was forced to choose to betray either his friend or his country, an English wit replied that he hoped to God he would have the good sense to betray his country. This was something of a trick question anyway, the answer to which was sure to leave in its wake scads of contentious people. But the answer had illuminated what we would now call the gentleman’s “priorities.” Though no rational country would willingly have the Englishman as a citizen, who would not want to be his friend? A bill sponsored solely by Senator Chris Dodd, the “Free Speech Protection Act of 2004,” puts journalists in the same uncomfortable situation as the hapless Englishman. Compelled to betray a source during a legal proceeding by disclosing his identity or maintaining silence and subverting justice, what would you do? How do you like your babies -- boiled or fried? Presently, journalists need not answer such stupid questions because the law is very plain on the point: Journalists m

Gubernatorial Race: It's the Economy, Stupid

Jodi Rell teared up during her announcement that she was making herself available to run again as governor. Rell’s stratospheric popularity quotient humbled her, the governor said, and she wanted everyone to know she was serious about de-horning the devil of corruption that has plagued Connecticut ever since most of us were knee high to toadstools. Sentimentalism is the enemy of clear thought. There is little doubt that Rell has stolen the corruption issue from the clenched teeth of the Democrats. She did this by bowing to liberals on the issue of public financing of campaigns, much to the chagrin of her fellow Republicans, and then attempting to force Democrats to swallow unpalatable conditions, such porcupines as the abolition of ad-books, guaranteed to pierce Democratic throats with painful quills, and a prohibition preventing lobbyists and contractors doing business with the state from contributing to campaigns. But the edge Republicans have had in the past over the loyal opp

An October Primer on Campaign Finance Reform

Money, the mother’s milk of politics, is given by lobbyists, mostly to incumbents. So, what’s wrong with this? The conventional answer is that it creates the impression that politicians are on the take. And, as we know, in politics, impressions – or is that “appearances?” – are determinative. Here in Connecticut, some politicians have been sunk by the “appearance of corruption” torpedo, but others who frequently have accepted campaign contributions from lobbyists affected by legislation they promote have escaped serious injury. U.S Sen. Chris Dodd says that his contributors, many from the financial sector, do not affect how he votes on issues. Contributors apparently send money to the senator as an expression of political solidarity: It is not the contribution that occasions the vote, but the vote that occasions the contribution. It’s very important in these matters to get the right horse in front of the right cart. There are critics of campaign finance reform who say that the refo

The Vatican and Homosexuals

The Vatican wants to purge homosexuals from its seminaries, and at least one paper, The Hartford Courant, thinks this is a bad idea. The paper does not presume to quarrel with the Vatican over dogma. Of course, most journalists, especially break-away Roman Catholics, regard dogma as irrational, faith based propositions at variance with science and enlightened opinion; so, what is the point in wasting one’s time being disputatious? The paper questions the Vatican’s “strategy” and asks “When is the Vatican going to get it?” The Catholic Church’s strategy, is “punitive and shows a woeful misunderstanding of the genesis of the scandals that have undermined its credibility. The scandals were perpetrated by pedophile priests who preyed on young parishioners (virtually all of them boys) and got away with it, sometimes for years, thanks to an enabling hierarchy. These criminals should have been sent to jail. Instead, they were transferred to other parishes where they could prey upon a new