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Showing posts from October, 2007

An'Don't Let The Door Bang Yer'arse On The Way Out

"Mr. Bluster Saves The World" is a review of Lowell Weicker's then newly published autobiography written by Chris Powell, the Managing Editor of the Journal Inquirer. Powell wore two hats when I wrote a regular column for the paper several years ago; he was also the Editorial Page Editor. The column is published here with the author’s permission. Some journalistic pieces – nearly all of Henry Mencken and Bill Buckley – are overarching and survive the ravages of time. This is one of them. It richly deserves a second curtain call. There are well wishers who, now that Weicker is leaving Connecticut for a more promising and … ahemm… less taxing state, silently invoke the Irish blessing on the author of Connecticut’s income tax: “An’don’t let the door bang yer’arse on the way out.” This piece by Powell is the door. MISTER BLUSTER SAVES THE WORLD Weicker's Memoir Is Breathtaking for Self-Contradiction and Omission By CHRIS POWELL Legend has it that the ancient Athen

A Carpetbagging Icon Moves South

“For the first time in a 40-plus-year career in politics,” the past Editorial Page Editor of The Day of New London, Morgan McGinley , tells us, “Lowell P. Weicker Jr. won't vote in Connecticut this fall. Weicker, 76, and his wife Claudia have moved from Essex to Charlottesville, Va., where the papers from his career as a United States senator will be housed in the Alderman Library at the University of Virginia.” When British actor Rex Harrison moved from England to Switzerland (because the taxes were too punishing in England), he was asked by the British Press why he was leaving. “Chocolates,” Harrison said. Switzerland produced better chocolates. The redundantly wealthy Weicker has moved from Essex, Connecticut to Charlottesville, Virginia because the University of Virginia, according to Mr. McGinley, has arranged to house Weicker’s papers without charging him. And they have better chocolates.

Meskill RIP

With former Governor Tom’s Meskill’s death, an earlier generation of Republicans is passing the torch to a newer generation. Meskill, former Governor of New York Nelson Rockefeller, Jacob Javitts, also of New York and former Governor Lowell Weicker’s template of the good Republican, were all “moderates,” which means they were inclined to break free of ideological restraints and join forces, when necessary, with liberals on the other side of the political barricades. The AP story on Meskill’s death does not mention his roll and that of his aide, Tom D’Amore, later Republican Party chairman and Weicker’s right hand man, in the institution of a Connecticut state income tax. Legislation creating a state income tax during the Meskill administration was somewhat surreptitiously passed through the legislature, which quickly reconvened and killed the legislation at a raucous midnight session. Much later, Weicker and D’Amore – along with some help from Bill Cibes, who ran for governor and lo


The following information, which includes a critical commentary, was taken from Sen. Chris Dodds’ official site . “From his time in the Peace Corps as a young man to his 25 years on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee,” according to the site information, “Chris Dodd has worked to strengthen America through bold engagement.” Dodd joined the Peace Corp. and later the National Guard, some think, to avoid a bold personal engagement in Vietnam. An example of Dodd’s “bold engagement” is provided on the site: “Dodd Was a Leader in Ending U.S. Military Assistance to the Nicaraguan Contras, which Opened the Door for Successful Elections in 1990.” There are two paths in Latin America. Hugo Chavez, the dictator of Venezuela mentioned only in passing on the site referenced, has taken the path more traveled by tyrants on the way up. Having seized the oil industry and crushed opposition newspapers, Chavez is now in the process of consolidating his power. A week ago, he threatened the Catholic

Blumenthal The Mediator

AT&T evidentialy is not content to remain prone under the jackboot of Connecticut’s Attorney General, Richard Blumenthal. In a month long legal battle with the company, Blumenthal ruled that AT&T no longer could provide TV service through their phone lines without registering as a cable company and promising to provide service through out the entire state, a provision that applies to cable franchises. Blumenthal, reasoning that price regulation leads to increased competition, lower rates and improved customer service, has in the past sought to force gas stations to provide unitary costs throughout the state. The State Department of Public Utility Control, reversing an earlier ruling that AT&T’s U-verse phone line TV service was not a cable business and hence did not require a franchise license, promptly put into effect Blumenthal’s ruling. The cable companies took AT&T to court, and the court sided with Big Cable, Blumenthal and a chastened DPUC. The DPUC’s about-fa

Unjustified Jihadists

It is not always easy to bend your ear to the whisperings behind the firing of cannons. War is loud; it drowns out the central meaning of things. It would not be far from the truth to say those who have distorted jihad have hijacked Islam. For instance, a rigid and clear prohibition lies upon the unjustified killing of Muslims by other Muslims, and other clear prohibitions forbid the wanton taking of the lives of the innocent. There are no passages in the Qur’an or in the commentaries that would justify such actions without seriously distorting both the message and the messenger of Allah. This does not mean that a clever and malicious mind cannot so distort the message; even the devil, we are told in Christian theology, can quote scripture to his own purpose. When he does so, it is important that he be recognized by other students of scripture as having distorted God’s message. The Qur’an does not sanction wanton violence against the innocent, which is why, following the violence aga

Pollit, Blumenthal and Rell

Over at the Journal Inquirer, Chris Powell , who has been skewering political gaffers for many years, took a swing at perhaps the most pretentious politician in the state, Attorney General Richard Blumenthal. The hysteria over the release of David Pollitt into a neighborhood in Southbury had reached the ears of Governor Jodi Rell, who thereupon reached for her Glock. As the news of Pollitt’s release dribbled out into the media, the neighborhood surrounding Pollitt’s sister’s house, where he was to be domiciled upon his release, grew ever more anxious. Their anxiety was understandable: Pollitt’s rapes had been vicious, according to cursory media reports, and his sister, who had agreed to serve as a Good Samaritan upon his release, appeared to be convinced that her brother had been unjustly imprisoned for crimes he had not committed. On the other hand, Pollitt had served his time, and the state of Connecticut had no good reason to refuse to disgorge him from its burgeoning prison pop

The Surge Is Still Working

More depressing news for the anti-war crowd. An Oct. 14 report in the Washington Post , not generally known as a hotbed of neo-cons, has revealed that the surge is working. “A congressional study and several news stories in September questioned reports by the U.S. military that casualties were down. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), challenging the testimony of Gen. David H. Petraeus, asserted that "civilian deaths have risen" during this year's surge of American forces. “A month later, there isn't much room for such debate, at least about the latest figures. In September, Iraqi civilian deaths were down 52 percent from August and 77 percent from September 2006, according to the Web site . The Iraqi Health Ministry and the Associated Press reported similar results. U.S. soldiers killed in action numbered 43 -- down 43 percent from August and 64 percent from May, which had the highest monthly figure so far this year. The American combat death tot

Jean D'Arc Lives

According to a story in the Waterbury Republican American by Martin Begnal , the Democrats may have produced their first Jean D’Arc. Joan Hartley is feeling the whips and scorns of the Democrat Party leadership. Said Hartman, “"They told me I had to support this, and if I didn't then the benefits of the caucus wouldn't be available to me, and I would lose my committee chair, my office and my parking space." “This” is the porcine Democrat bonding plan vetoed by Gov. Jodi Rell. Hartley is the lone hold-out preventing an over-ride of the governor’s veto. And Keith M. Phaneuf of the Journal Inquirer, as usual, gets it right and calls things by their right names. “Connecticut, which has more than $14.3 billion in bonded debt,” Phaneuf notes, “is one of the most indebted states, per capita, in the nation. And annual payments on that debt are consuming an increasingly large share of the state budget. This fiscal year's debt service is expected to top $1.83 billion,

Calculating Savings

NABR (Non-Partisan Action for a Better Redding) has a better idea, and a calculator to go along with it. Having set out to improve educational opportunities in Redding, the non-profit volunteer group, with assistance from the Yankee Institute , developed a proposal that would, according to their a descriptive text on their site, provide “a significant grant to those parents who send children to private schools while simultaneously and proportionally reducing the Town budget and thus benefiting all taxpayers, including Seniors without children in school.” In Joel Barlow, one of Redding’s schools, it cost a student$16,093 to send one student to the school for a year. However, if the student attends a private school instead, the parents receive a $5,364 grant, the town is required to reduce its budget by $5,364 and $5,364 remains with Joel Barlow to support fixed overhead costs such as electricity, heating, etc. It is an equal opportunity plan that benefits all affected parties. Stude


“Schip was created in 1997 to help insure children from low-income families, but it has since become a stealth vehicle to expand government control of health care. . . . House and Senate negotiators [have hashed] out a ‘compromise’ that would expand the program by about $35 billion over the next five years (plus a budget gimmick concealing at least $30 billion),” according to a Wall Street Journal editorial of September 24. The President’s Saturday message was to explain the necessity of his veto of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program bill. Said he, “Unfortunately, 500,000 poor children who are eligible are not enrolled in the program. Several states including Massachusetts , Illinois , New Jersey , Michigan , Rhode Island , and New Mexico spend more SCHIIP money on adults than they do on children. And that is not the purpose of the program. (Federal funds are given as block grants to the states that are free to spend them as they wish.) “I think the Children’s

Nighty Nite, Russian serial killer

According to a Reuters story, Alexander Pichushkin’s prison bed is uncomfortable. "I have lots of time to answer questions. But I'm very tired -- my bed is not very comfortable," Pichushkin said. “If convicted,” according to the story, “Pichushkin could be Russia's most prolific serial killer. Andrei Chikatilo, the 'Rostov Ripper', was convicted in 1992 and executed in 1994 for raping, butchering and in some cases eating as many as 52 people.” Actually, Pichushkin has miles to go before he catches up with Stalin, breaker of nations and murderer of millions. All this would be obvious if we could convince U.S. Sen Chris Dodd to organize the convening of a new “Nuremberg trial” to be held – my suggestion – somewhere in Ukraine, where Stalin in the 30’s intentionally arranged a famine, the notorious “terror famine,” that swept Ukraine into the soviet orbit.

Come Again?

In an interview with National Public Radio, according to reporter David Welna , U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd “won't be seeking a sixth term in the Senate.” There must be some mistake, maybe a typo. With a little creative keyboarding “will” very well could become “won’t.” R.S. Rep Chris Shays recently was roundly criticized for having suggested that he might give up his seat if Republican decision makers did not appoint him to a key chairmanship. Some bloggers went so far as to suggest that that Shays’ demand was a sign of dementia. Will they say the same of Dodd now that he has threatened to give up his seat in the senate after failing in a presidential campaign? There must be some mistake – probably a typo.

Rell’s Non-traditional Approach To Bonding

The Democrat’s bonding proposal is understandable only as a campaign strategy. Speaker of the House Jim Amann argues that Rell need not veto the Democrat bonding plan, busting with unaffordable but delicious goodies, because the governor is authorized by “tradition” to exercise what amounts to a line item veto. If the governor does not like a specific line item in the bonding package, it cannot be passed into law without her approval. This tradition enables Democrats to front load bond packages with earmarks that will keep Democrat legislators in line, and it has the additional advantage of making the governor appear to be less than caring when she nixes the window dressing funds proposed by generous and compassionate Democrats. In the best of all possible worlds, bonding would be reserved for capital projects that benefit the whole state, since the interest on bonding is paid by state rather than municipal taxpayers. But, somewhere along the line, the rational boundaries of bonding

Hillary Clinton's Reality Based Foreign Policy

Some commentators on the right, among them detested neo-cons , are referring to Hillary Clinton’s foreign policy posture – only a president actually makes foreign policy – as “reality based.” This is bad news for the bad news bears at DailyKos and other outposts of progressive aversion. Hillary Clinton has brought into her campaign Michael O'Hanlon , the co-author of “A War We Just Might Win,” the New York Times piece that changed opinion on the war within the reality based community. O’Hanlon pointed out in his piece that the surge in Iraq was having some positive effects. The surge, the ham-fisted and counterproductive methods of jihadists in places they formerly occupied and perhaps a weariness among Americans with the “can’t do” attitude of the war resistors all have played a role in the reduction of violence in Iraq in September. Hillary Clinton , when pressed, put it this way when she spoke in mid-September at the Veterans of Foreign Wars 108th annual convention in Kansas

Something To Cheer About

According to the Counterterrorism Blog , the Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdel-Aziz Al-Asheikh, the most senior Wahhabi cleric in Saudi Arabia, released a religious edict at the beginning of October instructing “Saudis not to leave the Kingdom to participate in jihad – a statement directed primarily at those considering going to Iraq. Al-Asheikh said that he decided to speak up, 'after it was clear that over several years Saudis have been leaving for jihad' and that 'our youth…became tools carrying out heinous acts.' Perhaps even most significantly, Al-Asheikh also addressed potential donors, urging them to 'be careful about where [their money is] spent so it does not damage young Muslims.'"'s Pants Are On Fire

A report from the Connecticut Post by Peter Urban suggests that the attempt to defame Army General David Petraeus by has created a backlash: “House members voted 341-79 on Wednesday to condemn ‘in the strongest possible terms the personal attacks made by the advocacy group impugning the integrity and professionalism’ of Petraeus.” Among those voting in favor of the condemnation were all five Connecticut representatives, including freshman Rep. Chris Murphy. Through direct contributions and independent expenditures, the group provided Murphy with $500,000 for his successful campaign against former Republican Rep. Nancy Johnson. The U.S Senate , Chris Dodd dissenting, condemned the ad in late September. Federal Election Commission filings show that since last year spent more than 90% of $3 million in independent expenditures targeting a dozen Republican candidates, including Rudy Giuliani and John McCain, both of whom are running for president. The g


State House of Representatives Speaker Jim Amann didn’t want key Republicans present during a “negotiation” session between Gov. Jodi Rell, himself and President Pro Tem of the Senate Donald Williams, so he did what any other petulant child would have done under similar circumstances: He boycotted the bonding negotiation session. Republican leader John McKinney, banned from the “very cordial” session by Amann, has said that Amann “needs to grow up.” Attending the session along with Rell and McKinney, Amann’s confederate in the senate, the resourceful Williams, has not yet been successful in persuading his counterpart to grow up. One begins to suspect that it’s all part of the William/Amann good guy, bad guy routine.