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Showing posts from November, 2006

Public School And The Courts

The Sirkins, who have written about public education in Connecticut, point us in the right direction and review a book edited by the masterful Eric A. Hanushek

By Gerald and Natalie Sirkin

Thinking Americans have become keenly aware during the past 30 years of two public entities which, by their bungling, are doing great damage to society.

One is the public school system. The other is the arrogant, intrusive judiciary. Separately, each is capable of inflicting serious harm. Combined, their power for injury is greatly magnified. We are only just becoming conscious that the public schools and the courts have joined hands.

Excellent essays concerning legal proceedings on school financing are collected in Courting Failure, How School Finance Lawsuits Exploit Judges’ Good Intentions and Harm Our Children, edited by Eric A. Hanushek (Stanford, Cal.: Hoover Institution Press, Education Next Books, 2006, pp. 367, $25, paperback $15).

Interested parties in the …

The Nation (no, not that “Nation”) Warms to Lieberman

As if losing were not humiliation enough, The Harford Courant this morning mainlined more bad news into the anti-Lieberman camp over at the Huffington Post and DailyKos, two liberal blog sites full of foaming at the mouth pro-Ned Lamont progressives: It turns out that the good old USA thinks Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman (ID-CT) is more loveable and cuddly than either New York Sen. Hillary Clinton or Massachusetts Senator and perennial presidential hopeful John Kerry.

According to a national Quinnipiac poll that measures the affection of people towards their leaders, Lieberman falls just a step behind that loveable mushball ex-President Bill Clinton, who came in at number 5; Hillary followed at 9; Lieberman was 6 and Kerry, alas, was at the bottom of the barrel, a lowly 20.

Rudolph Giuliani topped the list at numero uno; Nancy Pelosi ranked 12 and Bush 15.

According to the Courant, “Lieberman scored well among almost every constituency in the Quinnipiac poll, which surveyed 1,623 reg…

Blumenthal as Caligula

Gore Vidal, who was friendly with the Kennedy family, once was asked whether he was disturbed by Edward Kennedy’s long reign as senator of Masachussetts. Not at all, said Vidal -- author of “Myra Brekinridge/Myron-Myron", whose heroine, sort of, was a transvestite and “Imperial America: Reflections on the United States of Amnesia", as well as a host of other well received books on various topics – every state “should have at least one Caligula.”

Connecticut’s Caligula may be Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, whose fondest wish – to save the world by suit – was granted, according to a story in the Hartford Courant, a day after Thanksgiving, when the Supreme Court of the United States agreed to hear a suit championed by Blumenthal and other attorney’s general to force the Environmental Protection Agency to classify CO{-2} as a hazardous emission.

On the local front, according to the paper, “…a second coalition case known as Connecticut vs. American Electric Power seeks to f…

News You Were Afraid To ask About

Crypto-Stalinist Vladmir (Shoot’in) Putin has poisoned yet another opponent of his regime, this time a defecting spy who thought he was safe in England. And Putin rounded out the merry month of November by selling a Tor-M1 air defence rocket system to Iran. The system is designed to shoot down airplanes, helicopters and other airborne targets and will be useful to fascist Iran just in case Israel decides to take out a nuclear missile program that Iran’s kookoo president is developing to “wipe Israel off the map,” as he so felicitously put it.

Not to be outdone on the larger stage of human events, soon to be Madam Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, has committed yet another boner. She wants Alcee Hastings to head up the Intelligence Committee in the House that Jefferson built. Problem is: Hastings was impeached by the House for bribe taking and other shady activity usually attributed by Democrats to Republicans. Byron York, in National Review, has the best shor…

Thanksgiving Morning in Blogsville

Jane Hamsher, always brimming with the testosterone of progressivism, takes aim over at firedoglake, the blog site she maintains, at two impertinent revolutionists who have strayed from the fold.

“If you'd been sitting in Le Pan Quotidian restaurant on Santa Monica Boulevard yesterday afternoon you would have seen me pitch back in my chair and howl with laughter when Digby told me John WATB Harris and Jim "Pool Boy" VandeHei were leaving the WaPo to honcho a groovy new interactive news media site:

"'Harris and VandeHei note that their move is tied to a new vision of political reporting. It uses every medium on the web — text, video, and interactivity — to pull back the curtain on political stories and narrow the gap between reporters and their audience.'

“Tears…tears…oh lordy, it's just too funny…I can just hear the sales pitch for this future dinosaur (probably the same one they made for Hot Soup): ‘We'll tap the great untapped center, the people who …

Global Warming Revisited

Gerald and Natalie Sirkin, whose writings have appeared on this site before, wade into the Global Warming swamp and surface with some sound data.

By Gerald and Natalie Sirkin

Europe is stepping up its campaign to persuade the United States to sign on to the Kyoto Protocol, an international agreement to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and stop global warming. The British Government has just released a report commissioned by Parliament, the Stern Report, which finds the future cost of global warming to be very high and the cost of implementing Kyoto very low. How can any country turn down such big benefits at such low costs?

One reason the U.S. is not leaping at the bargain is that the cost and benefit estimates of the Stern Report are questionable. The Stern Report estimates that the cost of cutting emissions to 60% to 80% below the 1990 levels would be about 1% of global domestic product. However, other estimates range as high as 16%. As Jerry Taylor, a…

Is the Republican Party Worth Saving?

Is the Republican Party in Connecticut worth saving?

The short answer is “No.” The long answer is, I’m afraid, longer.

The Republican rot begins, as may be expected, with former senator and governor Lowell Weicker. When Weicker was senator for several terms and full of the puss of hubris, he sighed in the presence of a Hartford Courant reporter, “The Republican Party in this state is so small; someone should take it over.” So Weicker did, and the Courant, of course, obliged him.

Weicker considered himself a Republican in the mode of Jacob Javits of New York – a moderate, anti-conservative with a lively social conscience. Weicker appointed his handmaiden, Tom D’Amore, as chairman of the party, and together they proceeded to reform and destroy it.

What we see now in the age of Jodi Rell -- more popular, apparently, than salt -- is an empty husk of a party, paralyzed and useless. I am not speaking hyperbolically: Except as a reflex action to the preposterous and ruinous agenda of the Democra…

Murtha’s Augean Stables

It didn’t take long for Democrat unity to become hopelessly entangled in petty feuds and party alliances.

Speaker elect of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi’s choice for Majority Leader, Rep. John Murtha, was quickly voted down by a majority of Democrats. Many of the incoming “young turks,” swept into office owing to voter disenchantment with the war in Iraq, voted for Murtha on Pelosi’s recommendation, which came late in the day after Rep. Steny Hoyer had secured promises of support among House members uncomfortable with corruption in Washington DC.

Among Murtha most vigorous supporters in Connecticut were one “young turk,” Joe Courtney, who defeated Republican Rep. Rob Simmons by the narrowest of margins, and one “old turk,” Rep. John Larson, who praised Murtha’s opposition to the war in Iraq as a sufficient reason for supporting him. Larson has been appointed House Democratic Caucus vice chairman in the reconfigured congress and, as such, may have felt himself duty bound t…

No Hercules He

Far from being a Hercules prepared to clean the soiled Augean stables in Congress of corruption, Rep. John Murtha, Nancy Pelosi’s choice for Majority Leader of the House, appears to be one of the contented Beltway cows, according to a recent story in the Washington Post, not known as a neo-con newspaper. Even the Hartford Courant saw fit to print a discouraging word. True, Colin McEnroe has not yet weighed in on the new culture of corruption in Washington DC, but then he has not yet fully recovered from his obsession with the inoffensive Joe Lieberman -- Independent Democrat CT.

Dodd Takes The Road More Traveled

US Sen. Chris Dodd is taking the road trodden earlier by Joe Lieberman, the junior Democrat senator from Connecticut, now an Independent Democrat. After almost making it to the White House on a ticket headed by Al Gore, then running as president, Lieberman, a few months ago, was turned aside by his party in a bitterly fought primary won by Ned Lamont. One of the charges raised by Lamont and his supporters that decoupled Lieberman from his party was that the senator’s ambitions for high office had put him out of touch with the little people back home. Lieberman, it was said, had become arrogant and overly ambitious.

Dodd now puts his foot in the same snare, but he has found a way to purchase party loyalty in states he must win to be taken seriously as a presidential candidate. With some help from interest groups that may benefit from the soon to be chairman of a Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee that has jurisdiction over financial institutions, defense production, por…

Tony Soprano on the Lieberman-Lamont Race

“Chris Dodd—your fellow senator from Connecticut, did a commercial for your opponent—all of them campaigned or gave money. Is it going to be awkward for you?” Tim Russert to Sen. Joe Lieberman.

Q: Hi’ya Tony. How you do’n?

TS: Good. How you do’n? Hey, what are you talking like that for? And what’s with the baggy pants? You’re an educated guy. You been to college, someth’n like that. What’s with the gangbanger stuff?

Q: (Clears his throat nervously) Oh, okay. We’re here talking with Tony Soprano about the recently concluded, hotly contested Lieberman-Lamont election in Connecticut. Tony, as you know, Lieberman won that one. And he’ll be returning to the U.S. Senate as an Independent who will be caucusing with the Democrats, so he says. But the campaign has ruptured some old friendships, particularly the long-standing friendship between U.S. Senator Chris Dodd and Lieberman. We thought you might bring a fresh perspective to the subject of friendships in politics.

TS: Yeah sure, I know a lot…

What A Difference A Day Makes

Was ever a swift boot in the arse followed so quickly by a kiss and make up smooch?

Hartford Courant Oct. 29: “Her (Rell’s) brand of small-steps stewardship is not what Connecticut needs to tackle some of its most acute problems over the next four years. It needs the boldness she promised when first appointed, but didn't deliver. The state could use a visionary with big ideas, a dynamic leader not afraid to shake up the Land of Calcified Habits in order to effect real change.

“Democrat John DeStefano Jr., 51, the New Haven mayor challenging Mrs. Rell in the Nov. 7 election, comes closer to filling that description. He has the experience and drive to meet issues head on where Mrs. Rell has been mainly content to polish around the edges… The bottom line is that we believe Mr. DeStefano would be more engaged in pushing for the kind of bold change that Connecticut needs.”

Hartford Courant Nov. 8, the day after Rell cleaned DeStefano’s clock: “Though we endorsed her visionary opponent, …

After The Ball Is Over

The Sandinistas are back in power in Nicaragua, and Democrats here in the United States are back in power in the House of Representatives. Daniel Ortega, much chastened since his days as a Nicaragua’s communist dictator, won the presidency of the country, causing old Contra hands to mutter under their breath, “There goes the neighborhood.” Sen. Chris Dodd and ex-president Jimmy Carter no doubt will be dispatched to Nicaragua to quell the flames of revolution.

Governor Jodi Rell swamped her Democrat challenger, New Haven Mayor John DeStefano, but her victory is likely to be a Pyrrhic one, because Democrats now have a veto-proof majority in the legislature; which is to say, they may safely ignore Rell and the Republicans.

Connecticut is now officially a one party town.

The day after the Rell Tsunami, the Hartford Courant strewed some palms at the governor’s feet. Rell “…won that office on her own by politely ignoring her Democratic challenger's attacks,” the paper enthused. And, the p…

God's Spies

King Lear, dethroned by court intrigues, responds to his faithful daughter when threatened with imprisonment:

No, no, no, no! Come on, let's go to prison. The two of us together will sing like birds in a cage. We will be good to each other. When you ask for my blessing, I'll get down on my knees and ask you to forgive me. That's how we'll live—we'll pray, we'll sing, we'll tell old stories, we'll laugh at pretentious courtiers, we'll listen to nasty court gossip, we'll find out who's losing and who's winning, who's in and who's out. We'll think about the mysteries of the universe as if we were God's spies. In prison we'll outlast hordes of rulers that will come and go as their fortunes change.”

Winning is not always a blessing; losing is not always a curse. And Lady Fortune is sometimes a strumpet.

Prior to the final tally this year, there was gossip galore. Bill Curry, who now writes a political column for the Hartford…

The Fat Lady's Song

The Lieberman-Lamont race for status and prestige in Washington D.C. will be over by the time this is posted, and I have no way of knowing, from this remove, who will have won the race. But it’s been lots of fun, in an agonizing, sliver-in-the-foot sort of way. Whether the race between Democrat Sen. Joe Lieberman and Democrat senatorial nominee Ned Lamont has been a tragedy or farce is a matter for tragedians or comedians to decide. Towards the end, the whole wild roller-coaster took wing and headed off into LaLaLand.

Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, who earlier campaigned for Lamont in Connecticut , said during a campaign rally for California Democratic gubernatorial candidate Phil Angelides: "You know, education, if you make the most of it, you study hard, you do your homework and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well. If you don't, you get stuck in Iraq ."

This is what Kerry spokeswoman Amy Brundage said that Kerry’s text had called for him to say, according to …

An Honorable Exit

Christopher Hitchens – long committed to the Kurds, yesterday’s Darfur – provides an exit strategy to the exit strategists that might just leave our honor intact. The one thing we cannot do, Hitchens argues, is to evade our ethical responsibilities to the Kurds, to our kindest visions of ourselves as a nation, and to posterity. We broke Iraq, Hitchens argues, and we should make a reasonable attempt to fix it, before bailing out.

Stormtroopers Invade Hartford

It may be a case of the pot calling the kettle black. Here is a solid block of fascist rhetoric from the Lyndon LaRouche stormtroopers, posted on the LaRouche internet site:

“On Oct. 31, at one of the conferences jointly organized by the United States Embassy in Berlin and the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, on the coming American Congressional election, a key operative in the fascist network which, in the United States, has called for the mass murder of Muslims, is being featured. The panel will feature Peter Ross Range, the editor of Blueprint—the magazine of fascist Joe Lieberman's Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) in the United States. The event is being chaired by senior Social Democratic Party figure Karsten Voigt.

“The fascist credentials of the DLC are straightforward. Founded with Buckleyite right-wing mafia money, the DLC promotes Cheney-Bush imperial war policies, under the name "Democratic." Thus, it finds itself a useful tool of the Bush Administration, in deplo…

On Saying What You Mean And Meaning What You Say: Or You Can Take The Soldier Out Of The War, But You Can’t Take The War Out Of The Soldier

This is what Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry said during a campaign rally for California Democratic gubernatorial candidate Phil Angelides: "You know, education, if you make the most of it, you study hard, you do your homework and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well. If you don't, you get stuck in Iraq."

This is what Kerry spokeswoman Amy Brundage said that Kerry’s text had called for him to say, according to an Associated Press report: "Do you know where you end up if you don't study, if you aren't smart, if you're intellectually lazy? You end up getting us stuck in a war in Iraq. Just ask President Bush."

This is what President George Bush, campaigning in Georgia for former Republican congressman Mac Collins, said concerning the statement made by Kerry: Calling the Kerry statement “shameful” and “insulting,” Bush said, “The members of the United States military are plenty smart and they are plenty brave and the senator from Massachusetts o…