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Showing posts from May, 2007

Let The Class Warfare Begin

President Pro Tem of the state Senate Don Williams probably should have had a chat with Speaker of the House Jim Amann sometime earlier in the great budget battle of 2007.

First, Williams incorrectly counted Democrat votes in the senate. His tax plan, a scheme to force rich towns to pay more for state services while receiving less in services, fell short of the number of votes he needed to pass the plan over a gubernatorial veto. Then Williams decided, apparently without conferring with Amann, to permit the senate to vote on the measure anyway. Amann was reported to have been surprised at the vote, which passed by the narrowest of margins, a single vote cast by Senator Edward Meyer, who decided at the last moment to put his misgivings behind him and trust that Williams was not selling him a pig in a poke.

The House refused to consider Williams’ measure, preferring its own bill, which contained a tax cut absent from the senate plan. The "tax cut," a temporary reduction in the …

Who’s Smiling Now?

A chastened Governor Jodi Rell appeared on a radio talk show program while Democrats in the legislature were attempting to pass a “more progressive” income tax and said she would not sign the Democrat tax plan.

Once the governor discovered that Connecticut would be awash in revenue for the next few years, she pulled off the bargaining table her plan to raise the income tax, a reversal that Democrat leaders are not likely to let her forget.

The Democrat tax plan cannot be called a budget, because a budget shows outlays for taxing and spending. In previous years, it was thought necessary to present to the legislature budgets that detailed both taxing and spending ledgers. Democrats this year want to get their tax plan passed before they unveil their spending plan. Once the two are put together, Connecticut will have a budget.

Since the only reason offered by Democrat leaders for the unorthodox process was force majeure – We did it because we could do it – one can only speculate why the arc…

Amadinijad To Soros – Drop Dead!

On May 13, when leading Democrats in the US Congress were attempting to force president Bush to accept time-lines for troop withdrawals in Iraq, Iranian jihadists were hauling in and arresting American citizens, apparently without permitting them the same rights under American law that U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd would have afforded to Kalid Shiek Mohammad .

Kalid Shiek Mohammad, the architect of the bombing of the U.S. Cole in the Clinton administration, the organizer of 9/11 and the beheader of American journalist Daniel Pearl, among other accomplishments, was waterboarded and spent some time in the non-combatant camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, an ordeal from which he emerged with all his digits and his head intact.

Now running for president on the Cindy Sheehan ticket, Dodd said in a speech before Council on Foreign Relations last October that such as Kalid Shiek Mohammad should be afforded the same rights as American citizens.

It was during this speech, just prior to his presidential bid, t…

Dodd As Young Werther

"Be bold, be bold, but not too bold,
Lest the marrow of your blood run cold
" – from the fairy tale “Mr. Fox.”

U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd has not been able to move much above one percentage point in presidential preference polling. That places him roughly twenty nine points below that of President George Bush’s approval rating, now bottoming out at 30%.

Dodd is disappointed at his fellow Democrat presidential wannabes. After all the huffing and puffing since Dodd’s party took over the House and Senate, the Dems in the U.S. Congress have failed to produce a bill (or an indictment of impeachment) forcing the president to withdraw troops from Iraq by next March, Dodd’s preferred withdrawal date.

The date itself is unimportant. The idea is to nudge the already stumbling Bush into the fiery pit. However, none of the serious Democrat presidential contenders want to be responsible for a loss in Iraq, proof, if any were needed, that the Dems do not believe their own pre-election rhetoric. One …

God, Christopher Hitchens And Ascendant Atheism

The pity of it is there is no one on God’s side to answer Christopher Hitchens, the author of “God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything,” the latest and best in a long series of books recently published by ardent atheists. One thinks, almost involuntarily, of the cartoonish marginalia of William Blake’s poems, showing a long like of kings ending in a turd. Standing at the end of the line of distinguished atheist authors is the insufferably haughty Richard Dawkins, author of "The God Delusion," who has suggested that atheists denominate themselves “brights,” so as to distinguish themselves from such "non-bright" thinkers as Blaise Pascal and Thomas Aquinas.

“What an asshole,” Mark Warren commented on Dawkins in a review of Hitchens’ book in Esquire magazine. Brevity really is the soul of wit. Pass over Dawkins and “the wishfully thinking "The End of Faith," by Sam Harris,” an atheist neuroscientist, Warren advises, but do not deny yourself the plea…

May Means Flowers: June Means Liberation

The merry month of May has come and almost gone. June beckons. Last week, Speaker of the House Jim Amann woke from his bed of pain, got up, shaved and showered, looked in the mirror, snarled and decided that he could not put off any longer harassing Governor Jodi Rell, So, while the sun peaked above the horizon and all was breathlessly still, he conceived a plan. Later he picked up the phone and called his confederate in the senate, President Pro Tem Don Williams. And together the two settled on a strategy: They would encourage their minions in the legislature to over-ride a gubernatorial veto. This was done. The next day, the journalistic world was all a'twitter. How did the two decide to veto this particular piece of legislation? Why did they so decide? Stories were filed; trees were wasted. And still, today, no can provide a convincing answer to these questions. The governor, naturally, was aggrieved. She said the two were bruits and ought not to have done it. Amann said the ve…

The Dangers Of Steady Habits: Why Florida Is A Boom Town And Connecticut A Wreck

My wife and I and Jake, her guide dog, are back from a short vacation in Florida, where we visited with her sister and a friend who moved out of Connecticut several years ago to be near his son.

The many Nutmeggers we met in Naples and Vero Beach put me in mind of a story told about Rex Harrison, the famous British actor who moved to Belgium in order, some supposed, to escape Britain’s high taxes.

Why did he move to Belgium, Harrison was asked by an aggrieved BBC reporter.

Harrison smiled broadly and said he liked the chocolates.

Florida is not known for its chocolates, but it has become a haven for the tired, wretched and increasingly poor Nutmeggers who like its Homestead Act.

The Homestead Act is a bar to the kinds of increases in Connecticut property taxes that now threaten to impoverish all classes in the state but the very wealthy, whose fixed incomes are generous. They may not be so for long; our ever voracious legislature has been diddling for some time with a millionaire's tax…

The Machine vs The Man

Very likely the most exciting race in Connecticut next year will be in Bridgeport, where the man, Rep. Chris Caruso, will face the machine.

Bridgeport, like most of Connecticut, is a one horse town. The Democrat Party has run it ever since Caruso’s Great Granddaddy was knee high to a toadstool.

The machine’s choices recently have been rather unfortunate.

Federal prosecutors, using RICO statutes, bagged two Bridgeport worthies in recent years: former Mayor Joe Gannim and former state senator Ernest Newton, both now cooling their heels in jail. Someone from the Bridgeport machine probably told Bridgeport's current mayor, John Fabrizi to take a hike after his recent admissions of drug and alcohol abuse. Caruso, the White Knight of Bridgeport, has been openly contemptuous of Bridgeport's shakers and movers, calling them "clowns" and applying to them other sobriquets not designed to win him friends among party regulars.

With the backing of Bridgeport's kingmakers, the Con…

RUCKELSHAUS, CARSON, AND DDT

An eye-opener from Natalie Sirkin that might well be titled "How Environmentalists Facilitated Malaria Among the Poor In Africa."

The summer of 1971 brought the Sirkins and the gypsy-moth infestation to Sherman and Connecticut. Environmental organizations told us not to spray. In those days, we were all environmentalists. We held out till we could bear it no longer. A few days later, even they gave up.

In those days we still could have had DDT. The EPA public hearing which lasted eight months was still in progress. Its decision by Hearing Examiner Sweeney would vindicate DDT completely, but soon after EPA William Ruckelshaus would overrule Sweeney’s decision. Science could help, said Ruckelshaus, but this was a political decision, which put him in charge. He and Rachel Carson were the sources for the bad on DDT.

Rachel Carson, nine years earlier, had started it all. Her book started the environmental movement. Pesticides were the problem, especially DDT, and her book, Silen…

Clowns Out, Caruso In

The Connecticut Post is reporting that State Rep. Chris Caruso will enter the race for mayor of Bridgeport as a frontrunner.

Caruso will skip the usual formalities, such as being nominated by his party to run for mayor, because, Caruso said, “"I think the city is ripe for change. I hear it every day. They don't want the same circus with different clowns."

Even Sen. Joe Lieberman, when he decided to run as an Independent Democrat in the general election after his defeat in a primary, did not go quite so far as to call the leaders of his party clowns. But then, Caruso has fashioned himself as one of those rare politicians who, like former senator and governor Lowell Weicker and Lieberman, are able to rise above party interests and do the right thing for the people he represents.

And isn't it about time Bridgeport had a white knight as mayor?

The Ethics Reform Petard in Corrupticut

The charge is that Lisa Moody, Governor Jodi Rell’s chief aid, committed an offense against the spirit of ethics regulations – or, in current parlance, an “appearance of impropriety” – when she obtained from Connecticut’s burgeoning Art Community a list of potential donors and sent the names on to campaign workers who squeezed the innocent dears for campaign contributions.

The charge, as answered by the Rell campaign and the governor herself, is that the list was available to any citizen who cared to obtain it, including news reporters. Neither Rell nor Moody, according to the view from the governor’s office, committed an impropriety when the list was sent to purse squeezers in the Rell campaign.

To this Democrats have countered: It’s not what but when. Ethics regulations prohibit the gubernatorial staff from campaigning on the state’s dime. Multiple investigations are in process.

State auditors have sifted through the ethical debris and sent their findings along to Attorney General Rich…

We Are All Compassionate Now

“In a vote of 113 to 36, ‘SB 1343: An Act Concerning Compassionate Care for Victims of Sexual Assault’ passed the CT House this evening. The bill’s next stop is Governor Rell’s desk” – from Connecticut Local Politics

The bill was well named, with a view towards getting it passed. Whenever we see titles of this kind, we should lift up their skirts and have a look-see. George Orwell would have done the same. Orwell was instinctively mistrustful the whole bag of rhetorical tricks deployed by the 20th century’s clever advertisers, and his approach to the whole matter of propaganda is that of a poet who realizes that thoughts, the springs of human action, can be corrupted by language.

V. I. Lenin, who had a genius for concision, put it this way: “If you name a thing properly, you do not have to argue with it.”

The artfully named Compassionate Care For Victims of Sexual Assault bill is a legislative devise designed to force Catholic hospitals to provide Plan B to rape victims. Depending on one…

The Confessions (Tapes) Of GWB, Part One

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Testing, testing … Newspaper folk sometimes say their stories are the first rough draft of history. These thoughts are less than that; they are the first rough draft of the first rough draft of history.

You’re only as good as the information you receive. Take George T_ … please! No, only kidding. Look, I’m the first to understand that people have to make a living. That’s good; that’s the American way. But really… George was the main spook. So, you’d think when you’re talking to the guy who has his finger on the red button – me -- you’d be a little more circumcised … sorry, that’s circumspect … in what you say. When you say “slam dunk” to someone like me, who is intimately familiar with sports, it means SLAM DUNK, NO PROBLEMO, DO IT!

But, ya’know, T_ did have a point when he said the president didn’t make important decisions based only on partial, emotional responses. There was at the time, as I recall, a Noah’s flood of information out there, a good deal of it, …

It's Who You Know, Not What You Know

A blog entrée written by Ghengis Conn, the proprietor of Connecticut Local Politics, noted in a piece in the Journal Inquirer written by reporter Don Michak, caught the attention of no less an eminence than Attorney General Richard Blumenthal who, properly chastened, vowed he would use his considerable influence to persuade the legislature to alter, if necessary, a bill involving minors and internet predators.

The legislative bill, according to Michak, would require social internet sites such as MySpace and Facebook to obtain “written consent from the minor’s parent or guardian and giving the latter access to the profile page at all times.” The legislation also “would require the sites to use independently obtainable information to confirm the accuracy of personal information collected from site members, parents and guardians when registering.”

These safety valves alarmed Ghengis, who wrote on his own site, “…there’s no way I and the other moderators (on Connecticut Local Politics) can …