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Showing posts from September, 2007

The Faith of Rosa and the Faith of the Catholic Church

“ Do I have a right to make prudential judgments? Yes, I do that ” -- Rosa DeLauro US Rep. Rosa DeLauro’s faith, Catholicism, is brought to center stage in today’s Hartford Courant front page story , “Rosa’s Faith.” Some Catholics may quarrel with some points in the story. Their quarrel may begin with its title, “Rosa’s Faith.” In so far as Rosa’s faith differs from the faith of her church on matters of Christian doctrine, it is not, and cannot be, Catholic faith. Prudence, valued by DeLauro, and conscience do not always march together hand in hand. Catholics must take care to conform themselves to their faith; it cannot be the other way around. The Catholic struggle is to understand the faith and to conform one’s conscience, in one’s daily life, to Catholic teaching. When one trims the faith to make it fit one’s comfortable notions, one has stepped outside the Catholic universe. This temptation is one that Catholic politician are especially prone to. It must be an informed consc

The Art Of The Smear

First, the anonymous author of “Courant Asks If Shays Is ‘Too Shaky To Serve,’” CaptCT, quotes from a comment made on the Courant site by the anonymous “Ex-cop.” “Ex-cop,” a moniker that may lead the casual reader to assume that the author is, you know, an ex-cop, said on the Courant site, according to the anonymous CaptCT, “…if any of you displayed this type of juvenile behavior, you would have been stuffed and cuffed and placed on the Capitol police nut list.” The behavior to which “Ex-cop” refers is noted in David Lightman’s story on Chris Shays: “To critics, the erstwhile gentle, patient Shays seems to have been replaced by someone who has trouble controlling his anger. In July, he confronted the Capitol officer and touched his name tag after getting angry - and spewing profanities - because constituents were left standing in the rain, unable to enter the building.” Next, the anonymous MyLeftNutmeg author, CaptCT, characterizes the Lightman story as a “puff piece that attempts t

The Vanguard Would Like To Speak With You

In a blog written some time ago last June, I stressed the importance of the Yankee Institute to Republican prospects in Connecticut. The problem with Republican non-visionaries, I noted, is that they were content with second place status: “Some would argue that, moderate to the core, Republicans are in danger of disappearing as an effective opposition because they are, literally, inoffensive; which is to say, they have no offensive plan… There are plenty of distinctively Republican ideas out there, many of them presented here in Connecticut by the Yankee Institute and other libertarian to conservative idea factories… Republicans were left flat-footed this year when Democrats proposed to make the state’s income tax more progressive, a notion long pursued by the party that was featured, unchallenged by Rell, in the gubernatorial contest. Even now, the governor’s office has offered no principled opposition to the idea. The state’s surplus, the Republican Party has argued, has rendered

Carter Does Quinnipiac

The present state of Iran – calamitous, full of barking imams and led by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who recently, at the invitation of President of Columbia University Lee Bollinger, entertained the assembled students with his fictions – is former President Jimmy Carter’s present to the world. Carter facilitated the fall of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the last Shah of Iran, once friendly to the United States, now become the Great Satan among Middle Eastern men who like their women wrapped in burkas, like human hotdogs in wool buns. Oriana Fallaci is the first and only woman journalist to pull off her chador while interviewing the Grand Ayatollah Seyyed Ruhollah Musavi Khomeini, Iran’s answer to the Shah, throw it to the ground and declaim, “I will not be imprisoned.” Jimmy Carter is no Oriana Fallaci. After the fall of the Shah, Khomeini, the Lenin of the Iranian revolution, returned to Iran from France, where he had been in exile, and quickly took over. In this he was assisted by then Presid


Rich Lowry of National Review examines U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd’s journey from Iran critic to Bush critic. Former Mayor of New York Ed Koch gets it right. Dana Milbank a columnist for the Washington Post thinks the invitation to Amadinijad has served a useful purpose: Now we know he’ a jerk. Arthur Herman of the New York Post disagrees. Over at Slate magazine, Annie Applebaum tells us that Amadinijad’s goal was “to undermine the American and Western democracy rhetoric that poses an ideological threat to the Iranian regime.” And, to judge from the home town press , he may have succeeded.

On Inviting Amadinijad To Columbia

Bill Buckley, whose conservativism no one will question, once successfully persuaded the Yale Union to rescind an invitation to speak that it had extended to American Communist Party Leader Gus Hall. In an address before the Yale Union in 2006, about a half dozen years after Buckley had decided to give up public speaking, he recalled the moment to mind: “David Boren, the president of the PU, invited me to appear before you, and I accepted. A week later I saw in the Yale Daily News an article listing the speakers the PU had lined up for that fall. It included the General Secretary of the Communist party of the United States, Gus Hall. I sent a note to Mr. Boren and told him to drop my own name from the fall list, as I declined to appear on any roster of speakers that included an official of the Communist party. This was about the time Solzhenitsyn published his first book about life in the Gulag Archipelago, and I and a few others thought to seek an appropriate response to the conditio

Dodd, Slip Sliding Away

You won’t find this little ditty on the front page of the Hartford Courant – where it belongs: “Dodd's Surprise Vote On Iraq,” by David Lightman , the Courant’s chief Washington reporter, who previously has not had difficulty getting his stories on Chris Dodd featured on the front page. This one appeared in a little visited section of the paper called “Caucus Politics,” an ashcan section of the Courant devoted to throw-away though piquant items. The second paragraph is the bone crusher: “The Connecticut Democrat was one of only three Democratic senators to oppose a measure intended to bring most U.S. troops home from Iraq within nine months. The proposal failed on a 47-47 vote, 13 shy of what was needed to cut off debate.” Dodd has continually been featured in the paper as opposing the Bush regime’s posture in the Middle East, and he has made appearances in all the usual anti-war watering holes: DailyKos,, the Huffington Post. His newly acquired anti-war friends in

Expel DeLuca For Failing To Report A Bribe

Attorney Sandra Norman-Eady, testifying before a special legislative committee, said there were no clear rules or language in the cases she had examined that dictate how the committee, poised to decide whether Sen. Lou DeLuca should be expelled from the chamber, should decide the issue. "There's nothing definitive,” Norman-Eady said, “that says it has to be a felony conviction for expulsion.” Having consulted relevant passages from James Madison in the Federalist Papers, Sen. Anthony Guglielmo told the committee that the constitutional founders set a pretty high standard for expulsion; they “were concerned about overturning the elections of duly elected officials." Both Norman-Eady and Guglielmo are right. Very likely, legislators may expel members for cause – any cause. On the other hand, overturning elections is a serious business, and so the cause ought to be denial proof. Expulsion is particularly chancy when legislatures are dominated by a single party. Precedenc

Ahmadinejad At Columbia

According to a statemnet by Columbia University President Lee Bollinger Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is coming to a school near you. Bollinger intends to prod his guest with some sharp questions involving: ·the Iranian President’s denial of the Holocaust; ·his public call for the destruction of the state of Israel; ·his reported support for international terrorism that targets innocent civilians and American troops; ·Iran's pursuit of nuclear ambitions in opposition to international sanction; ·his government's widely documented suppression of civil society and particularly of women's rights; and ·his government's imprisoning of journalists and scholars, including one of Columbia’s own alumni, Dr. Kian Tajbakhsh. Don't bet on Columbia to win any debates spun off from its president's prods.

I Am The Government, So There

This from Capitol Watch, a blog maintained by two Hartford Courant reporters: Attorney General Dick Blumenthal, who thinks he’s a legislature, believes that Accenture, the consulting company that advises Connecticut on its CORE-CT computer project, ought to be “ censured ” because it allowed “valuable secret data to be stolen… putting at risk state taxpayers, bank accounts, and purchasing cards. Accenture acted unconscionably and illegally.” And last month the attorney general caught a cold, but he sued it and, like the Gaderine swine, it left him.

A New York Yankee In Lester Maddox’s Court: Giuliani In The South

Several years ago my brother Jim, bruised by the treatment he had received at the hands of a Hartford Insurance Company CEO, journeyed to Columbia, South Carolina in search of a job. Because he had been approaching retirement age, the company decided to toss Jim out of their plane with half a parachute. The Puff Adder CEO, having ruined the company, was trying to save some money, if not his skin, by reclaiming benefits awarded to his workers by earlier more successful CEOs; this involved firing (downsizing) people, usually males of a certain age, company men now close to retirement. Over the years – Jim is now safely retired and no longer within reach of lying, rapscallions who would not know how to run a lemonade stand, let also a multi-billion dollar business -- my brother writes me from Eden taunting e-mails like this: “Y’all, I see your property taxes are climbing up and up there. Our guys have just submitted a legislative plan to get rid of them.” And now, Jim tells me, quintes

Bridgeport Pols Kiss And Do Not Tell

In Bridgeport, it’s all over but for the kissing. Challenges to Bill Finch, who won the Bridgeport mayoralty primary against corruption crusader state Rep. Chris Caruso, are fast disappearing. Former Mayor John M. Fabrizi, who indicated he might enter the mayoralty race as a third party candidate should Caruso win the primary, has agreed to settle comfortably into obscurity now that Finch has prevailed over Caruso. And pictures printed in The Connecticut Post show House Speaker James Amann sharing the dais with Caruso after Casuso had been dished by Finch; Caruso, as usual, looks earnestly out at the audience, while Amann stands to his left wearing a Mona Lisa smile. Another photo shows Finch, his left arm wrapped around his wife, punching the air in a victory salute, while Senate President Pro Tempore Donald Williams smiles and applauds in the background. It seems odd to find Amann in Caruso’s corner and Williams in Finch’s. Amann was widely criticized by the left wing of his part

Rose Pesci 1912-2007

My father's Rosalie On Sept 11, my mother died at Hartford Hospital – of complications that arose from a broken hip. We will all someday die of complications; life is a very complex business. She died, at age 95, full of years rich in memory and love. I was asked to do the eulogy. The Mass of Christian Burial was said by Fr. Richard Bollea – Ann’s son, you know – in the small church she attended throughout her life, St. Mary’s in Windsor Locks. I was fortunate to have given the eulogy in this same church for two of my uncles and my father. Rose was the last of the First Family of Mandirola’s, the matriarch of the family. In beginning the eulogy, I chose a passage from Blaise Pascal, because Pascal is the poet of dying among Christian saints and theologians. His own life was brilliant. He was a precocious child and one of the foremost mathematicians of his day before, after having had a profoundly affecting religious experience involving his near death, he retreated to a simple, au

Rep. Chris Shays And The Struggle To Remain Relevant

U.S. Rep. Chris Shays, according to a lede on a popular Connecticut political blog site , “claims it will be distracting to both run for reelection in his district and not know whether or not he will win the chairmanship. I understand that this is a power play on his part, but it also contributes to the perception that he’s unstable.” The blogger, charitably, does not tell us whether the word “unstable” refers to Shays’ precarious political position or to his state of mind. On the left side of the political barricades, it is not uncommon for disputants to refer to politicians who support President Bush’s maligned “war on terror” as having lost their marbles. Shays thinks it will be terribly tedious to remain in the U.S. House of Representatives if he is not selected for the top GOP spot on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. And so, he has now given notice to national Republican Party power brokers that he just might give up his seat in the House to a deserving Democ

Dodd’s Hour

Believe it or not, there are Democrats whose most ardent hope is that Bush will come to his senses and end the war in Iraq before the next presidential election. One can almost hear the sweat pouring off their foreheads splashing on the floor of the U.S. Senate. That hope, somewhat unrealistic considering Bush’s adamantine refusal to withdraw the troops, is in its death throws after General David Petraeus’ report to congress. The Petraeus report did not go down well with the ardent anti-war crowd huddled in the bunkers over at, who accused the general of “Betrayal (rhymes, sort of, with Petraeus) or the anti-war harridans over at DailyKos, Impeach Bush Central. Our own Sen. Chris Dodd is one of the principal leaders of the Movement To Get Bush To Put His Head In A Noose And Pull The Trap Door. It’s not working. The man is stubborn and has no yen for self destruction. The Democrat, anti-war take on Bush is that he bumbled into the presidency fraudulently (the environmenta

The Lieberman Paradigm

It’s almost too funny for words. In the bad old days, Lieberman, defeated in a primary by the party endorsed candidate, Ned Lamont, went on to engage Lamont in a general election. Prior to that election, Lieberman was raked over the coals by the Lamontistas for having traduced his party. They were hurling some pretty nasty thunderbolts at Lieberman during the dark days of his party defection. Fast forward: Chris Caruso – who has managed during his career in politics to define himself as the anti-machine candidate – decides to contest the machine (read: party) candidate in a primary mayoralty contest in Bridgeport. He loses in what has been called a squeaker of a race. He has said he will not contest the primary, unlike Lieberman. But his supporters, the same crew that dumped on Lieberman, have fastened on Caruso as the more left-leaning, less corrupt candidate. And they are urging him to run against the Democrat Party nominee and primary winner, Bill Finch, who is “corrupt” only by a

Courting History

God being unavailable – see atheist writers Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins on this – Americans naturally are anxious to bring History to their side. In the post-Hegelian world, History has been deified, has a voice and speaks to us. “This, damn it all,” a blogger wrote following General David Petraeus’ report to Congress, “actually is Bush’s fault for going to war with Iraq in the first place when there was no legitimate reason to do so. That, I guarantee you, will be history’s judgment.” These lines appeared in defense of Sen. Chris Dodd’s view of the Middle East and History. After General Petraeus’ appearance before congress, Dodd said in one of his press releases: “The fact that there are questions about General Petraeus’ report is not surprising given that it was brought to you by this White House. In contrast, independent report after report indicates that the whack-a-mole strategy has made this the bloodiest summer of the war. And by the General’s admission, the so-ca

The Problem With Atheists

The problem with modern atheism is that it has no positive content. It’s the phallus of Old Greek comedy applied to religious precepts. Christopher Hitchens, author of “God Is Not Great,” and Richard Dawkins are very good at swinging that thing, usually at literalist faiths. Dawkins argues that theology is vacuous; he means non-materialistic. Hitchens is likeable; even those who heartily disagree with his point of view appreciate his fidelity to the Western Enlightenment period, which was also, at least in its later stages, profoundly anti-religious, if not atheistic. But the wit and charm of Hitchens’ atheism changes nothing. There is and can be no “there” there in atheism, and one grows suspicious of Dawkin’s apologetic note when he softly criticizes the ravages of Lenin and Stalin -- who were simply atheistic banditos with guns. There is something wrong with the analytical acuity of critics who are overly severe with Mother Teresa but go soft and squishy on Stalin and Hitler, both

The Spooks Among Us

In the spook business, what comes in is every bit as important – sometimes more so – than what goes out. Spies, since the Washington administration, have always shaped political behavior. One of the reasons Washington was able to prevail over the British was that New York spy John Honeyman was a loyal and accomplished spook. The danger is that the bad spies (theirs) are able to manipulate the good spies(ours) if one of the good guys, for whatever reason, jumps the fence and joins the bad guys. In the spy business, you are what you know. And what you know, and don’t know, is furnished by intelligence gatherers that are, or are not, trustworthy. Got that? You may think you’ve got it. Perhaps you have been attentive over the years to the thrilling spy novels of the post Cold War period. But you have not got it unless you have read “Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA,” by Tim Weiner, a real-world account of how the Soviets for eight years manipulated U.S. intelligence -- surely a

Hillary’s Choice

Maybe corruption is like a disease. If you are afflicted with it enough in small doses, you develop immunity from it. So it seems with the Clinton’s. According to reports from Canada, Bill still has an eye out for worshipful women who sort of resemble a kinder and gentler Hillary ; what is it with Bill and blondes? He is at least as horney as JFK , probably more so, though it is not recorded that JFK ever assaulted or groped recent widows in the White House kitchen. Bill is now being celebrated for a book he wrote “On Giving,” although there is nothing in his charity reports while president to suggest that he personally was over fond of it. And then, there’s Larry Craig, heavily criticized by those on the left who think the Republicans love to fall asleep with corruption on the pillow next to them, quickly jettisoned by Republicans, and now the subject of revisionist thinking by Democrats and their cheerleaders in the press who would like to use his corpse in a campaign against moralis

McGreevey Syndrome

New Jersey Gov. James McGreevey, the nation's first openly gay governor, lately retired from office, has risen to the defense of U.S. Sen. Larry Craig, whose on again off again resignation from office, after he had got caught in a compromising position in a men’s stall at an airport, appears to be off again. McGreevey’s trials and tribulations began for him when, as a child, he recognized he was different from other kids. His Catholic upbringing was of no help at all: “No relief was forthcoming from my then-Catholic faith, which said the practice of homosexuality was a ‘mortal sin’ subject to damnation.” He carefully weighed his options: “… my only options were suicide, something for which I could never find the courage, or 'closeting' my homosexuality. You decide: I'll change it, I'll fight it, I'll control it, but, simply put, I'll never accept it. You then attempt to place ‘it’ in a metaphorical closet, keep it separate from open daily life and indulge

Orwell And The Truth

The bad news, recently unearthed, is that MI5, the British spook agency, was spying on George Orwell for two decades. The author of “1984”, which featured Big Brother, was a target of British intelligence from 1929 to 1950. The good news is that the Brits were intelligent enough to regard Orwell, as an Associated Press story out of London puts it, “benignly.” Orwell in England and Albert Camus in France were fierce, uncompromising anti-totalitarians. Neither would have been comfortable entertaining Stalin at tea. George Bernard Shaw, on the other hand, was at ease petting Stalin, but there is no indication in the AP story that he was similarly spied upon. Britain’s Big Brother, it appears, was captivated by Orwell’s bohemian life style, And on the basis of wrongheaded observations by a lackadaisical snoop, it was supposed that Orwell might be a communist. He did, after all, involve himself in the Spanish Civil War. And his manner of thinking – always outside the box – and dress may

The So Called Gay Debate

Now that former Sen. Larry Craig's political life has been terminated, public opinion in some quarters appears to be shifting in his favor. Colin McEnroe , a Hartford Courant columnist, blogger and radio talk show host, appears to be having second thoughts. ‘The Larry Craig deathwatch is ticking down to its final tock as I write this, and -- now that we've all had our hearty laugh over his plight -- I have to ask what the man did that warrants expulsion from the Senate. Is he gay? I think yes. Has he been a bit of a phony? I think yes again, but if you're going to set the bar there, we have a lot of senate cleaning to do.” And Courant columnist Bill Curry wants to wring some valuable lessons from Craig’s ordeal, principal among them that Craig is gay; that his gaiety was suppressed as a child, not an unusual occurrence in homophobic America; that the humiliation of being gay in straight Idaho caused psychological perturbations; wherefore Craig, in serious denial, wande

Politics In The Capitol City

Some of Mayor Eddie Perez’s former supporters, notably among them Geraldine Sullivan, now running the mayoralty campaign of Democrat challenger Charles Mathews, have fallen away. Concerning Perez’s clumsy movements in the China shop of Hartford Democratic politics, Sullivan says, “This is a reign of terror.” Before Hartford moved from a city manager to a strong mayor form of government, the mayor, little more than a political decoration, was less terrible to factious Democrats who ran the city without ever having had to assume responsibility for their astounding stupidities. The new strong mayor came on like gangbusters. By flexing a little political muscle, he got himself appointed chairman of the Hartford board of education. His influence was apparent in the appointments of the police chief, city council, school superintendent and housing authority. Along the way, ever in a rush, Perez stepped on some corns, kicked some shins and broke some eggs. But you can’t make an omelet, as