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Showing posts from December, 2007

08 Predictions: Happy New Year

It’s always a hazard to make predictions, because future events depend upon current events that change rapidly. The best sort of prediction is a vow: “I pledge in the New Year to be kinder to my friends and more hostile to my enemies.” This sort of prediction depends solely on will power and determination, which always lie in the hand of the vow taker. Predictions about historic events are always iffy. History, as a rule, snatches the better angels of our nature from us and consigns them to Hell. The careful reader will note that I have capitalized “Hell.” This, with apologies to honorable atheists among us, is because it is a place name for a real place, as yet undiscoverable by the spiritually vacuous tools of modern science. The following are safe predictions because, with the exception of #7, they are limited to what will not happen in the coming year. 1) Bloggers -- who are nasty, brutish and short (with just about everybody) – will continue on their private path to Hell (note


Q. What’s the best strategy for closing the gap [between black and white students] and what in your view are the prospects for success? A. Abigail Thernstrom: If I had my druthers, I would turn every urban school into a charter school and with the bucks stopping on the principal’s desk. A. Stephen Thernstrom: I wouldn’t want to restrict the choice made available to students to charter schools. I see no reason why we cannot make it through some kind of voucher plan. San Diego San Diego Union Tribune, November 13, 2005 Vouchers, besides charter schools and private schools, are covered in Herbert J. Walberg ’s new book, SCHOOL CHOICE, THE FINDINGS . It contains solid empirical evidence on all schools including private schools, secular and parochial. Walberg, an expert on effective educational practices and research methods, has fitted the findings into a tiny paperback which will fit into a pocket or pocketbook. The findings are f

Dodd Gets Real

Politico is reporting that the embattled Sen. Chris Dodd, who has not risen much above 2.5% in the polls, has slipped a dagger or two in the sides of Democrat presidential wannabes Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. The presidency involves more than giving great speeches, al la Obama, or observing politics, a la Hillary Clinton Dodd said in Iowa: “It isn’t just a question of giving a great speech, giving an ennobling idea. It isn’t enough just to be sitting on the sidelines and watching your husband necessarily deal with problems over the years.” Expanding on the idea of witnessing, Dodd said, “Laura Bush is a wonderful person, a delightful first lady, but I don’t think anyone would assume necessarily she is ready to be president of the United States. Now, Hillary Clinton has been elected to the Senate, and that adds a bit more to all this. But the idea that, for the last 10 or 15 years, because you’ve been next to events as they’ve unfolded somehow qualifies you to do this job is an

The Benizar Bhutto Who Done It

One can only make sense of a world turned upside down by standing on one’s head. The New Year presents us with at least one important “Who done it?” Who assassinated Benizar Bhutto and why? The historic stage is littered with potential culprits. Immediately after Bhutto’s assassination, the administration of Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf, released a tape purporting to be a conversation between people involved in the hit and a person who ordered the hit. “We terminated the most precious American asset which vowed to defeat mujahideen.” These were the words of al-Qaeda’s top commander for Afghanistan operations and spokesperson Mustafa Abu al-Yazid, immediately after the attack that claimed the life of Pakistani politician Benazir Bhutto on Thursday (December 27), Asia Times on line reported. President George Bush had engaged both Musharraf and Bhutto diplomatically in an effort to turn Pakistan in a democratic direction. That diplomatic effort appeared to be succeeding, and

The New England “Moderate” in the Progressive Mineshaft

Whenever liberals in Connecticut get in trouble – not often – they like to drape the “moderate” mantel around their shoulders and strut and preen, Chanticleer-like, before Connecticut’s largely liberal press. Just look at me! This cocky imposture puts me in mind of a story told by Bill Buckley, I think at a gathering at his house in Stamford. Traveling in Ireland visiting pubs, Buckley noticed that no matter where a conversation began, it ultimately was steered in the direction of religion. Someone had mentioned a prominent local atheist, and Buckley, taken aback, remarked, “You mean to say there are atheists in Ireland!!!” Oh yes, he was told – “But you have to understand: There are Catholic atheists and Protestant atheists.” In Connecticut, there are liberal moderates, many of whom write for newspapers, and conservative moderates. But really – wink, wink – the whole lot is programmatically liberal. Colin McEnroe, a talk show gabber, is instinctively liberal, as is his sometim

That Didn’t Take Long.

South Asia Times is reporting that a spokesperson for a top al-Quaeda commander, Mustafa Abu al-Yadid, said Benizir Bhutto was assassinated because she was “the most precious American asset which vowed to defeat mujahideen.” These beasts actually have spokesmen, just like US senators and presidents. Had Mustafa Abu al-Yadid been caught by American troops in Iraq, America’s most precious assets, Chris Dodd among them, would have festooned him with Constitutional rights, supplied him with a lawyer – probably ex-US Attorney General Ramsay Clark – and no one would have laid him on a water board to extract actionable data from him. Benizar was not long for this world; she was a courageous woman, like Hersi Ali , who also has a price on her head. The jihadists hate women, booze and democracy. It may also be worth pointing out that Bhutto was assassinated because she was conducting diplomacy with the Bush administration. In an age swarming with jihadists, diplomacy has once again becom


An attack on a political rally killed the Pakistani opposition leader Benazir Bhutto near the capital, Islamabad, Thursday. Witnesses said Bhutto was fired upon before the blast, and an official from her party said Bhutto was further injured by the explosion, which was apparently caused by a suicide attacker.

First The Verdict, Then The Trial

Suffering from a troublesome case of anti-Semitic indigestion, “pete” from West Hartford belched in the Hartford Courant commentary section attached to a story called “A Tangle Of Tensions, “go back to isreal (sic) and steal some more land, dirtbag (sic) troublemakers.” The comment is a dramatic overstatement of some of the tensions underlying a decision of Litchfield’s Historic Commission to deny a Jewish orthodox religious group, Chabad Lubavich, permission to convert a “home” into a Jewish temple. The historic “home” on Litchfield’s pristine town green was gutted 40 years earlier and turned into a business, seriously compromising the “home’s” historical character. Like the poor, anti-Semitism will always be with us. But in this particular case, a just decision between the competing claims of Chabad Lubavich and Litchfield’s Historic Commission very likely will be settled in court. The dispute, in any case, appears to be tending in that direction since the Historic Commission refus

Lieberman Driving Them Batty

joe_lieberman-746022 Originally uploaded by girlforgirlforme Once again, US Sen. Joe Lieberman has grievously disappointed Pharg, CGG, Anonymous , and countless other bloggers and Liebercritics. The left side of the blogsphere is in full cry against Lieberman’s endorsement of John McCain, a Republican. The right side of the blogsphere, unlike the prescient Lieberman, has not yet settled on a candidate. It is not known at this point if Lieberman will endorse McCain or some other forbidden Republican presidential wannabe in the general election, but the smart money says he will endorse the Democrat candidate -- provided the foreign policy of said candidate is substantially different than that of US Sen. Chris Dodd, who favors abject surrender at the earliest possible moment. Having lost a military struggle with al-Qaida props like Syria and Iran, Dodd thinks it is possible to sweet talk these puppet regimes into peace. Lieberman, at this tender point in the rout of al-Qaida

Every Word A Lie

Mary McCarthy, known to have had an acid tongue, once said of Lillian Hellman that every word she wrote was a lie, including “the” and “and.” The same might more justly be said of Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, now making his bow off the totalitarian stage – after 47 years and some months as Latin America’s most prominent pain in the butt. Venezuelan nut job Hugo Chavez, a Castro wannabe, was shown the door by his countrymen earlier in the month. The sulpherous Chavez wanted to insert in his country's constitution language that would make him dictator for life. US Sen. Chris Dodd’s mentor, US Sen. Robert Byrd drifted into congress only two days after Castro seized power in Cuba but, a notorious hanger-on, he may let outlast the felonious dictator; Byrd’s plumbing is thought to be in good order. Said Castro : “My elemental duty is not to cling to positions, or even less to obstruct the path of younger people, but to share experiences and ideas whose modest worth comes from the exce


No national interest of ours could justify handing sovereign control of two-thirds of the earth’s surface over to the Third World . . . . The underdeveloped nations who now control the General Assembly are looking for a free ride at our expense—again. President Reagan, 1978 President Reagan sent his personal emissary, Donald Rumsfeld, to visit our allies around the world to explain his opposition to the Treaty and ask them to support him—which they did. Awaiting a vote now in the U.S. Senate, a “relic of the 1970s,” is the Law of the Sea Treaty, known by the acronym LOST. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee has done a cursory review, holding two hearings. Seven witnesses testified in support, two against (Frank Gaffney of Center for Security Policy and Fred Smith of the Competitive Enterprise Institute). Not attending either hearing were two Republican senators who are up for reele

Icon Writing at Ender's Island

Vladimirskaya (Kondopoga) Originally uploaded by jimforest The first time I came to St. Michael's Institute on Ender's Island, I put a question to one of the women who had made several icons previously: What had I let myself in for? She said, "You are about to pray an image into wood." On my most recent return in November, I was at least not a novice. I had made one icon under the tutelage of Vladislav Andrejev's son Nikita a few years earlier. Vladislav Andrejev is a masterful iconographer who had learned his craft at the hands of Russian monks and then went on to found a school of iconography, the Prosopon School. Andrejev now lives in New York, having immigrated to the United States in 1980. He has been teaching iconography in North America for more than 15 years. His icons, faithful to the Russian-Byzantine tradition, grace churches and homes both in America and elsewhere in the world. His son looked a little bit like a Russian monk; he was tall a

How Anbar Was Scrubbed Clean of al-Qaeda Terrorists

“Six months ago Sheikh Ali Hatem Ali Suleiman al-Dulaimi predicted that tribal leaders would defeat al-Qaeda in Anbar province, the Sunni tribal heartland. Now the young prince of the Dulaim, one of Iraq's largest tribes, exults that al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) has been driven out of Anbar by tribal fighters aided by American troops.”

Backing into the Porcupine

Interesting how the reporter here backed into a pretty interesting story . This line of questioning is not what one would expect to hear on National Public Radio, which is used to lobbing hardball questions at Republicans and softball questions at liberal Democrats. NPR host Robert Siegel asks House Minority Leader John Boehner about his pledge earlier in the year that Republicans would work with Democrats in addressing issues important to the country: "’What evidence of that has there been so far, since you've been leader?’ "’Well, unfortunately, Robert, there hasn't been any,’ Boehner confided, although he insisted the unfriendly atmosphere in Washington was not the GOP's fault. ‘I was hopeful that Speaker Pelosi wouldn't make some of the mistakes that the Republican majority made by overreaching and going it alone. But what we've seen all year is an effort to overreach, to only consider what the Democrat majority wants to do.’ “Siegel tried to cla

Hope For Atheists In The Season Of Hope

It’s near Christmas, and the neopagans have begun their Winter Solstice celebration on Vernon’s town green. Some of the celebrants, it is said, are atheists – a hopeful sign. The real pagans who once celebrate the Winter Solstice at least believed in resurrection deities -- Osiris, Adonis, Attis, Baal, Tammuz -- though not in the Christian God whose manger will lie but a few feet from the Vernon atheist’s… ummm… posting. If one has progressed from atheism to paganism, it is but a leap and a jump into theism. The village idiots, crawling towards Bethlehem, may make it yet -- God willing.

Up Yer’nose

A “high official” (read: scandal monger) in the Hillary Clinton campaign, according to the Washington Post , has warned that Barack Obama may be attacked for his drug use but not, one hopes, by Bill Clinton, himself scarred by charges of drug use and philandering. The ex-President and future First Husband's Chris Kringle nose is mute testimony to past usage. Update The bacillus was eradicated almost as soon as the words were out of his mouth. He extended a handsom apology too.

Brits on Intel Report

The Brits and Israel, both more accomplished at intelligence gathering than the United States, think that Iran, with the co-operation of the CIA, has hoodwinked Uncle Sam. The Brits begin with the assumption that the CIA, historically full of dunderheads , has a political reason for thinking that Iran ditched its nuclear weapons program in 2003: “A senior British official delivered a withering assessment of US intelligence-gathering abilities in the Middle East and revealed that British spies shared the concerns of Israeli defense chiefs that Iran was still pursuing nuclear weapons. “The source said British analysts believed that Iranian nuclear staff, knowing their phones were tapped, deliberately gave misinformation.” We are skeptical. We want to know what the basis of it is, where did it come from? Was it on the basis of the defector? Was it on the basis of the intercept material? They say things on the phone because they know we are up on the phones. They say black is white. The

Hard Times for Dems

Student protestors in Iran are – with apologies to Daily Kos -- crashing the gates , Venezuela is poised to kick Hugo Chavez to the curb, and a YouTube video is making the rounds showing that Bush’s ouster of Sadam Hussein had the support of a handful of prominent Democrats. And, oh yes, the surge has worked; so says Mr.anti-war bluster John Murtha .

The Colin Show

This is what happens when you mix Buddhism and Unitarianism: “And then there are the lesser known entities. There is, for real, something called Fox Faith which makes religious movies. Last year they offered up "One Night With the King," which I assumed was a remake of "A Date with Elvis." Never mind. It's not. I'm currently pitching them on a project called "Scrubbed," in which a cranky, socially isolated talk show host (played by Bill O'Reilly in a break-out role) sees the face of the Virgin in a loofah sponge and rediscovers the meaning of Christmas… Murdoch is getting dangerously close to an idea I've been kicking around for years: the openly for-profit religion. What's holding a lot of megachurches back is their nonprofit status. They can't be traded on the NYSE; they can't charge fees for service or admission prices; they can't sell indulgences. They would probably save more souls and lighten more karmas if they were

The Second Shot Heard Round The World

Kevin Rennie’s two reports on state Sen. Thomas Gaffey's have gone unanswered, which is not to say there have not been repercussions. “Joey from Glastonbury” -- very likely a pseudonym, since “Joey” is commenting on the Harford Courant’s site, which allows pseudonyms – writes: “I think this article proves last weeks (sic) piece was nothing but garbage. Last week Rennie put the idea out there that Gaffey supported the CSU 2020 because of a romantic relationship. Now Rennie writes that Carter's friendship with Gaffey goes back much further. There are no violations. Three years ago Carter sold tickets at face to Gaffey (legal on all fronts) and Carter made a political contribution (legal on all fronts). Rennie doesn't report on what other political contributions Carter might have made nor if he ever sold tickets to others in past years. Considering up until a two years ago, UConn gave out dozen of tickets to each game this column is just an assignation (sic) attempt on Carte

Priest Sentenced

In the oddest of reversals the Reverend Michael Jude Fay , who robbed his 0wn parish to support his rather expensive gay lifestyle, was sentenced to three years and a month in prison by judge Janet Arterton. Begging for mercy, Fay said, "I beg your mercy not to send me to prison. I am already in prison,” and the judge in her response hit it out of the park, ethically and religiously speaking. Said the judge, “Forgiveness is going to have to come from elsewhere and from others because that is not a part of what the court is charged with doing.” However, if Fay felt the need to redeem himself through good works, he would have ample opportunity: “In our prisons we have many needy people.”

The Middle Way

Cardinal John Henry Newman would have dubbed Mitt Romney’s address on religion a "Middle Way," a via media, between, say, Hilaire Belloc and former president John Kennedy. Campaigning for a position in Parliament, Belloc was accosted on the stump by a woman who objected to his Roman Catholicism. He drew some rosary beads from his pocket and said to the lady, “Madam, do you see these beads? I pray on them every night before I go to bed and every morning when I wake up. And if that offends you madam, I pray God he will spare me the ignominy of representing you in Parliament.” Kennedy formed an uneasy alliance with the anti-Catholic bigotry of his day by surrendering to it. That bigotry – the first and strongest prejudice of the new nation, said Arthur Schlesinger – is still very much with us, though it has assumed different forms. If Kennedy were alive today, he would have to draft an apologia to neo-pagans should he want to win the presidency. Romney did not, and for thi

Gaffey, Transparency And Opacity

Because Lou DeLuca complained of maltreatment and suggested that the Gaffey potboiler be handled in a way similar to his own case, both commentators and politicians, among them President Pro Tem of the state senate Don Williams, felt constrained to point out the differences. Williams said, "For Lou DeLuca to have brought this up is an outrage. For somebody who was investigated by the FBI, the chief state's attorney's office, and but for the fact that law enforcement was able to break up the hit that he ordered on a relative, he would be in jail. For him to start talking about Tom Gaffey, who broke no law … we're talking about two different universes." All true. Apples are not oranges. The characters to whom we’ve been introduced during the DeLuca drama are not at all the same as those wandering the stage in the Gaffey drama. There are no FBI agents posing as mobsters under state Sen. Thomas Gaffey’s bed, and Gaffey did not refuse a bribe and then decline to repo

A Second Look

A short time ago, John Murtha , a powerful member of the House Appropriations Committee and the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Defense, perhaps the most persistent critic of the war in Iraq, returned home and pronounced the surge a success, news that now is trickling down through the Democrat grapevine. Murtha’s announcement is not likely to win him many friends in the frothing progressive community. His grudging admission, however, was attended with an important qualification: The political situation in Iraq is still a mess – no argument there. It is still being argued in some quarters, by presidential hopeful Sen. Chris Dodd, among others, that American troops should quickly be withdrawn from Iraq. Dodd has proposed a withdrawal by March. Those who believe that security and efficient politics in Iraq are unrelated have a quarrel with history that they cannot win. Even in Iraq, there are signs that the two are intimately related. In a blog piece titled “What Happens After The Surg

Gaffey, You Be Up

With the first two paragraphs of a column by Kevin Rennie that ran in the Hartford Courant on Sunday, we were off to the races. “Lust for power is merely ambition,” Rennie wrote. “Lust and power together, however, can make trouble. The question is whether that potent cocktail cost taxpayers $1 billion this year because of a secret relationship between a high-ranking legislator and a state university vice chancellor. While they were pushing the bonding package, they were bonding.” The “lust” to which Rennie refers is the affection and high regard that State Sen. Thomas Gaffey, D-Meriden, chairman of the Education Committee and vice chairman of the Higher Education and Employment Advancement Committee, had for Jill Ferraiolo, associate vice chancellor for government relations and communications at the Connecticut State University System. CSUS was created during the gubernatorial administration of Lowell Weicker, who pulled up his deep-rooted Connecticut stakes and moved to Virginia re

Appropriating The Body

Now that former Governor Bill O’Neill has passed on, everyone is laying claim to the body. O’Neill was a kindly man, a genteel barkeep who wandered into politics at a time when it was thought that barkeeps -- rather than, say, news people – could run for governor or president and win. He never lost his common touch; it was both his strength and his weakness. The most dangerous and cowardly word in politics is “yes.” O’Neill, as Chris Powell of the Journal Inquirer reminds us, was full of yeses, which is why the state budget flowered under his hand. A conservative in demeanor only, Powell writes, O’Neill “in 10 years and 10 days, enacted, almost mutely, most of the liberal agenda of his time -- vast state underwriting of municipal school expenses, the near-doubling of teacher salaries, and the tripling of total state reimbursements to towns. Prompted by the bridge collapse in Greenwich in 1983, O'Neill also arranged a huge program of road renovation. His conservative demeanor wa