Skip to main content


Showing posts from May, 2006

Dear Lord, Please Make It Stop

The bishop of the Roman Catholic diocese of Bridgeport traveled to Darien on Sunday to commiserate with the people in the pews.

Bishop Lori wanted to be with them during this difficult time, he said. “It is precisely in these moments of tension, disappointment, anger and sadness that the quality and capacity of our love is tested.”

What made the people in the pews tense and disappointed and angry and sad, according to an item in the Crime & Punishment section of The Hartford Advocate, was a report from a detective hired to investigate the strange goings-on between the Reverend Michael Jude Fay and an unnamed man in the rectory house. Suspicions having been aroused, someone at the church hired Stamford detective Vito Collucci to investigate.

The Advocate reported that the detective “said he documented at least $200,000 in church money used to pay for Fay’s lifestyle with another man. Colucci said money was spent on limousine rides, dinners at fancy restaurants and cruises. The priest …

On License, Liberty and the Pursuit of Attorney General Richard Blumenthal

For those who do not understand the difference between license and liberty, license involves annoying and sometimes unnecessary restrictions; liberty, in the immortal words of Huck Finn, is doing or saying what you think is right.

License hems in by countless fine print, all written by Yale or Harvard lawyers. Liberty is a Charles Ives symphony, two bands playing martial music passing each other in the night like boisterous ships in opposite directions. Liberty is as free and open as an American garden; license is an English garden – orderly, precise, jackbooted. Liberty feels and sounds like a family discussion around an American supper table on some festive occasion, noisy and borderless. Like the American garden, such conversations are free ranging and diverse, to make use of a much abused word: Here a wildflower is sunk in a field of unkempt grass, nestled by a rushing brook that waters the roots of a hundred year old oak casting its shade over the sun speckled landscape. The Ameri…

Whither Jacklin?

The item – longtime Hartford Courant columnist to leave DeStefano campaign – was noted in a brief Courant AP story of a little over 100 words.

Whither Michele Jacklin?

Guess the gals and guys at the Courant don’t consider this a story, otherwise one of her confederates at the Courant easily could have called Jacklin and asked whether there was any truth the rumor that she planned to join the Ned Lamont campaign as an aide to Tom D’Amore, presently an aide to Ned Lamont, who is currently hankering after Senator Joe Lieberman's seat in Congress. D’Amore was formerly chief cook and bottle washer for former senator and governor Lowell Weicker, the snoring bear who was defeated by Lieberman. D’Amore, Weicker and the gals and guys at the Courant were all once very simpatico. The close ties between political writers and politicians in Connecticut borders on the incestuous.

In any case, there are three possibilities: 1) Jacklin retires from politics and rides off into the sunset, not likely;…

The Bravest Woman in the Western World

Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s flight from Somalia to the Netherlands, tortuous and full of dangerous twists and turns, was an intellectual pilgrim’s progress from the 10th to the 18th century.

Her family, devout Muslims all, sought political asylum in Kenya after her father, who had studied in Italy and the United States, had openly opposed Siyad Barre, the president of Somalia. Hirsi Ali’s father also opposed the Somalian practice of female circumcision, but her grandmother had the girl circumcised at five years old when her father was abroad. Promised in marriage by her father to a distant Canadian cousin, Hirsi Ali, while traveling from Kenya to visit family in Düsseldorf and Berlin, Germany, fled to the Netherlands instead of Canada.

Filing under a false name, Hirsi Ali (nee Hirsi Magan) was given political asylum and received a resident permit. Owing to a civil war and a serious famine in Somalia at the time, refugees were routinely granted asylum on humanitarian grounds and, on the advise of …

To The Republicans in Windsor

From an address to Windsor Republicans at their annual Republican of the year awards dinner.The award this year was given to Steve Ellingwood.

Reading his own obituary in a local paper, Mark Twain once said that the news of his demise had been “greatly exaggerated.”

There has been much written lately concerning the death of political parties. But the reputed demise is, I think, premature – which may prove, as it did in Twain’s day, that newspaper writers, columnists and other professional worry-warts have, once again, gotten it wrong. The presence in this room of so many hard working, energetic and committed Republicans certainly gives the lie to that notion.

The news that journalism is dead has also been tossed about lately. An exhaustive survey released by the much respected Project for Excellence in Journalism indicates that national newspaper chains may be on their deathbeds. According to the report, the public “increasingly sees the press as slanted… Nearly three quarters of America…

The DaVinci Code Flop

The best that can be said of Ron Howard’s film adaptation of Dan Brown’s “The DaVinci Code” is that the film maker has taken a theologically deficient, profane, anti-Christian fictional page turner and made of it a theologically deficient, profane, anti-Christian soporific film.

A movie that four decades ago might have been banned in Boston now has been panned in Cannes.

Hollywood Reporter Kirk Honeycut wrote, “For those who hate Dan Brown's best-selling symbology thriller 'The Da Vinci Code,' the eagerly awaited and much-hyped movie version beautifully exposes all its flaws and nightmares of logic.”

BBC News entertainment reporter Caroline Briggs wrote, “Scriptwriter Akiva Goldsman has produced a script that is clunky in parts and downright cringeworthy in others."

"Nothing works really,” wrote Stephen Schaefer of the The Boston Herald. “It's not suspenseful, it's not romantic, it's certainly not fun. It seems like you're in there forever and you are…

We Are All Curryites Now

Bill Curry – who is to Connecticut Democrat politics what Adali Stevenson was to national politics; a highly literate also-ran – is back. And I, for one, am glad.

Let these few succulent lines roll around in your mouth: The roiling anger Bush has inspired in the breasts of Democrat true believers is “good for congressional challengers but bad for anyone trying to strike up a conversation about Rell's governance skills. It didn't help that Democrats wasted so much time painting Rell as Carmella to Rowland's Tony Soprano. People didn't buy it and even if they had, elections are about the future, not the past.”

That is a Curry paragraph. Very few people in state politics can juggle metaphors this way. And of course Curry’s notion that “elections are about the future, not the past” is a shattering insight, borrowed perhaps from former President Bill Clinton’s signature song: “Don’t stop thinking about tomorrow…”

Here’s Curry, an incorrigible policy wonk, on Rell: “Two years i…

The Kids Take A Recess

The Committee To Tar And Feather Lisa Moody, Tie Her Up With Duct Tape, Throw Her Out The Window And Embarrass Her Boss began its investigative meeting Wednesday, the New Haven Independent reported, “into an Election Enforcement Commission decision on a fundraising mistake made by Gov. M. Jodi Rell's chief of staff and subsequent settlement negotiated by her campaign manager.”

No sooner had the committee convened, the Hartford Courant reported than the kids had to take a recess: “A rank-and-file Democrat asked for a recess. Lawmakers said they tried to remind Caruso and Meyer (both Democrat top-guns) behind closed doors that they should be respectful of the Republicans' complaints.

"The whole tenor of the room seemed to be too tension filled," said Rep. David McCluskey, D-West Hartford, admitting he's worried the bad feelings will only fester. "The thought was, the recess would be one way to clear the air."

Who's Sleeping with Whom?

File this one under “Politics makes strange bedfellows” – or, as the case may be, strange bedpersons.

NewsMax reports that Senator Hillary Clinton, widely reported to be a liberal, is doing it with Rupert Murdock, the closest thing the 21st century has to newspaper mogul William Randolph Hearst. Mr. Murdock buys ink by the shipload and is widely perceived to be a conservative.

“Rupert Murdoch, head of the News Corp. empire that includes conservative favorites like the Fox News Channel and the New York Post, will be hosting a New York senatorial fund-raiser for Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y.”

The same paper reports that Sen. John McCain may be uninvited to give a commencement speech at the New School in New York. Students repulsed by the senator’s craven attempts to curry favor with conservatives have collected 1,000 signatures and presented them to New School President former Sen. Bob Kerrey, D-Neb, who favors the appearance. Kerry is widely regarded as a liberal and obviously does not agr…

Daddy Amman and Papa Williams Give the Kid some “Walk Around” Cash

At the very last moment, campaign finance reform made it through the legislative sausage grinder at the state capitol, sending Andy Sauer, executive director of Connecticut Common Cause, dancing up and down the aisles shocked with surprise and joy. The two parties once again had compromised.

That word, “compromise,” very well may be the most misused word in political discourse. In any case, Democrats and Republicans had – what’s the word? – conspired to satisfy Andy Sauer and other pro-campaign finance reform enthusiasts. The power often wielded by the malefactors of great wealth to corrupt innocent incumbent politicians by stuffing their campaigns with cash had suffered a serious blow.

But just as the sun of campaign finance reform was pushing aside the night of corrupting political influence, dark clouds were gathering on the horizon.

A report on slush funds by Keith Phaneuf tells us in embarrassing detail how legislative leaders and governors sock away what used to be called in the ba…

The Whistleblower's Tale

It’s going to be difficult for the usual chatterers to make merry with Christine Ragaglia’s difficulties. True, she’s a Republican, and its always open season on Republicans in Connecticut. But she is also a woman who helped prosecutors put a nail in the devil’s tail. The Rowland prosecution likely would not have been possible without her grand jury testimony.

That testimony, put under seal by prosecutors, has now, thanks to some anonymous leaker, become public property. Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, according to an Associated Press report, is promising to “recover millions lost to Rowland-era corruption.”

Connecticut’s attorney general, who relies on co-operative witnesses and whistleblowers to secure his convictions, has vowed to “seek relief tailored to the individuals like Ragaglia and others who have betrayed the public trust.” The associated press reporter who was given access both to the sealed -- now, obviously unsealed -- grand jury testimony, as well as Ragaglia’s much …

Who, Whom, Part Two

Genghis Conn said...

Effective for herself, I would say. She's doing what Bill Clinton did (and did very well)--taking the ideas and issues of the party opposite and somehow making them her own. It's going to get her re-elected.

So then, a political strategy in which Rell distances herself from a coherent Republican Party message and adopts the protective coloring of Democrat Party initiatives helps Rell – and only Rell – to be re-elected. I’m beginning to sound a bit like ctkeith without the fangs. Only in politics – and indeed, only in modern politics – can a politician prosper as an island unto himself.

So, let us assume that Gengis Conn is right. A Republican strategy of adopting and promoting Democrat programs will get you elected in this the bluest of blue states. No big secret here. Gengis Conn points to Clinton as an example of a politician who prospered by exploiting his moderation, but a more apt parallel would be between Rell and former Governor Lowell Weicker, a mast…