Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from March, 2008

Let the Bad Times Roll

Good times and bad times, as we all know, are determined by state budget crunchers.

A good time is one in which the state – here defined as state legislators, mostly Democrats – are wallowing in surpluses. A surplus is an excess of treasury money, here defined as the amount of money that legislators have overtaxed the citizenry.

In good times, these overcharges are not returned to taxpayers. They are sometimes used to pay off debts incurred by legislators, mostly Democrats, who have not kept up payments on their obligations. To pick but one example, state teacher pensions are languishing because the state has used surpluses for purposes other than to meet its obligations to teachers. The state has not used its surpluses to pay off bonding debt because legislators know that they can fool most of the people all of the time into thinking that state bonding does not create debt. In fact, bonding creates debt – but, as we have seen, no obligation to pay it off – and overspending also creates…

The Incestuous Non-Prosecution Of Elliot Spitzer

According to an AP report, former Attorney General and Governor of New York Elliot Spitzer was hoisted by his own petard because the so called “dirty tricks” commonly employed by attorney generals in this the land of the free and home of the brave were not transferable once Spitzer had become governor of New York.

The canary who sang to Albany County District Attorney P. David Soares was Spitzer’s former communication director Darren Dopp.

Before Dopp began his employment with then Attorney General Spitzer, he was a reporter for the Associated Press. In his previous capacity, Dopp likely would have gone to jail to protect his source. As communications director for Governor Spitzer, Dopp was just a yeoman functionary attempting to burnish the public persona of his boss. He was successful in this possibly because he had friends in high places within the journalistic community. When Dopp was threatened with jail, he began to sing.

Dopp told Soares that Spitzer had “directly ordered him in …

The Limits of Democracy

Arnaud de Borchgrave of the Washington Times has been exploring in his columns the limits of democracy in the Middle East, and what he has to say about democracy in Pakistan is, well, bracing:

“Washington's Pakistan kibitzers will soon rue the day they squeezed President Pervez Musharraf to restore democracy."Demonocracy" is what has now emerged, or an unholy alliance of long-time America-haters, including the MMA coalition of six politico-religious extremist parties that lost the Feb. 18 elections, plus a gaggle of former generals and admirals against Mr. Musharraf, and friends and admirers of Dr. A.Q. Khan, the man who ran a nuclear "Wal-Mart" for the benefit of America's enemies (North Korea and Iran).”

A Modest Suggestion: End the Agita Now!

Here is a transcript of US Sen. Chris Dodd’s interview with the National Journal:

Q: As I mentioned earlier, you were the General Chairman of the Democratic National Committee. Now, you know that a lot of Democrats feel that this increasingly bitter race between Obama and Clinton is hurting the party. First of all, do you think that is true, and secondly, if you were in charge, what would you do?

Dodd: Well, I think it is hurting. Look, we’ve got five more months to go before the Democratic Convention at the end of August and, candidly, we cannot go five more months with the kind of daily sniping that’s going on and have a candidate emerge in that convention. My hope is that it will be Barack Obama, but if it’s Hillary Clinton, she too will suffer, in my view, from this kind of a campaign that I think is undermining the credibility and the quality of the two candidates that we have. We have two very strong candidates. So I’m worried about this going on endlessly and to a large extent, L…

Moral Reprobation and the Art of Branding

The press today – and by that I suppose we shall have to include such organs of the media as YouTube and MyLeftNutmeg – is exceedingly concerned with moral reprobation. For those who do not know, MyLeftNutmeg is a hard hitting leftist blog site in Connecticut. It’s good to be hard, bad to be soft. I do not mean to single out my honorable brothers on the left here for… well… moral reprobation; all this is merely by way of example.

MyLeftNutmeg receives the bulk of its political ethic, such as it is, from other blog sites, MoveOn.org and the Huffington Post, for example; proving, once and for all, that the press – or the media, as some would prefer – is 10% thought and 90% repetition.

It is important not to underestimate the power of repetition -- as a propaganda tool. Lenin said that if you label something effectively, you do not have to argue with it; this includes both people and propositions.

People who have been labeled effectively within the past month include the not-so Reverend Jer…

More Taxes Please

Four big city mayors in Connecticut, hungry for tax dollars, got together and decided it might be a good idea if shoppers in their area would spend 16% more in sales tax for items bought in their cities.

And no, this is not the beginning of a joke.

This push to increase urban taxes produced a mini brouhaha in one newspaper that ran the item. It was the closest thing to a tax revolt seen in the state since former Governor Lowell Weicker, by political chicanery, imposed an income tax on his beloved state. Weicker has since moved to Virginia, his new beloved state.

“Great idea guys,” said “Snaggletooth,” his tongue buried deep in his cheek. “Also you should consider a tax on office rents and tolls on the roads into towns. Perhaps a special tax on food at restaurants and maybe a higher gas tax. That'll help.”

“When will Democrats learn,” asked “Tax This,” from New York, “that cutting taxes stimulates economic activity and in turn raises the revenues that government receives for their idio…

HUMOR FROM HEAVEN

Gerald Sirkin died a year and a day ago. Amongst his files are Cartoon Ideas, Commonplace Book, and Speeches.. Here is a sampling:


Letter to Joan D of May 27, 1975, referring to her circular pinned to the door of the Store, on the subject of male bread bakers for Naromi Land Trust:


Dear Joan: It was kind of you to include me among Sherman ’s Foremost Bakers, especially after my confession that my only credential is that I have never tried baking bread and therefore have never had a failure. However, I have a recipe from my grandmother (renowned in our family as Lead-Bread Sirkin) and I have a month to practice, so we will see what emerges. If successful, I shall deliver it to the Store. If not, I shall deliver it to Kenny Grant for use in road repairs. Come what may, something in Sherman will gain. I hope it will be Naromi—a kneady cause.

Yours, Jerry Sirkin

______________________________________


NS: I’ve got a 41-year-old husband.

GS: Oh yes, but still almost as good as new. Practically no…

Pope Baptizes Prominent Italian Muslim

During the Easter Vigil, the pope baptized and received into the Catholic faith “Italy's most prominent Muslim, an iconoclastic writer who condemned Islamic extremism and defended Israel…”

This is not an unusual occurrence. While attending Easter Vigil at St. Mary’s church in Coventry, my wife and I witnessed several men and women being received into communion by Father Victor Chaker and Father Ray Introvigne.

The Egyptian born Madgi Allam explained why he had titled his recent book "Viva Israele.” He had received death threats from Hamas, and “Having been condemned to death, I have reflected a long time on the value of life. And I discovered that behind the origin of the ideology of hatred, violence and death is the discrimination against Israel. Everyone has the right to exist except for the Jewish state and its inhabitants. Today, Israel is the paradigm of the right to life."

None of this, one supposes, will be received in a spirit of good will in the badlands of Pakista…

More Than A month Of Sundays

The good news is that Bill Curry, a liberal columnist and former counselor to former President Bill Clinton who now writes for the Hartford Courant, does not think the videos many of us have seen of Sen. Barack Obama’s pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, are "very pretty.”

“Wright has some odious opinions,” Curry writes, “ — America brought 9/11 on itself; the government may have given black men AIDS — which he shouts with a fervor hard to find in, say, a mostly white Congregationalist church.”

Curry thinks that candidates ought not to be held responsible for their pastor’s opinions and wonders why Sen. John McCain, the Republican presidential candidate, is not held to the same standard as Obama: “Meanwhile John McCain solicits support from the likes of televangelist John Hagee, who accuses the Catholic Church of spreading 'a theology of hate.' This is the same guy who said Hurricane Katrina was how God punished New Orleans for granting a permit to organizers of a gay pride …

Kill Bill

Smarties – Connecticut is filled with them – will not be surprised to hear that there is more than one way to kill a bill in the legislature. Not everything, or every one, in that august body is straightforward. Sometimes the trek of truth is a tortuous way. Just as there’s more than one way to skin a cat – though, why would anyone want to do that? – so there is more than one way to kill a bill.

The honest and straightforward way to defeat a bill is to allow it to go to the floor, have a robust debate in the course of which the bill’s merits and demerits would be fully explored, and vote it up or down.

In this way, the extravagant claims made for representative government by our sainted forefathers would be vindicated. Once the bill was passed into law or defeated, the people of Connecticut, depending on their wants and desires, would similarly be able to vote in or out of office those who voted on the bill.

This is raw democracy and representative government at its most elemental. Thom…

Retroactive Legislation Violates The Rule Of Law

The clash between Democrats and Republicans on the question of ethics reform is not at all surprising.

Even now, one imagines campaign strategists sifting through the rubble in search of campaign fodder.

Democrats and Republicans on the government administration and elections committee “clashed,” as one newspaper reported over the question of retroactive punishments.

It had been proposed to allow Superior Court judges to revoke retroactively the pensions of state officials convicted of crimes. The target of the proposal was, of course, former Governor John Rowland and a handful of former legislative villains.

Two ethics bills, both of which included 10-year retroactive measures to revoke the pensions of public officials convicted in state or federal court, were reported out of committee over the objections of Republicans.

High ranking Republicans on the committee Rep. John W. Hetherington of New Canaan and Sen. Judith G. Freedman of Westport objected to the bill but voted in the affirmativ…

Petting the Dragon

Some sensible people who labeled Sen. Barack Obama very early on in his campaign a “post-racial” candidate are beginning to have second thoughts.

At the beginning of Obama’s carefully crafted campaign, George Will, the conservative commentator, was not yet among them, but the influence on Obama’s campaign of the Reverend Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., pastor of Mr. Obama's Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, is giving rise to profound doubts.

Back in December, Will and Shelby Steele, touched lances on the question of race transcendence in the Obama campaign.

Will summarized a short book by Steele of Stanford's Hoover Institution on Obama, "A Bound Man: Why We Are Excited About Obama and Why He Can't Win," and then disagreed with Steele's major premise that Obama had embraced the social determinism and identity politics of post-'60s black dogmas.

“Since the 1960s,” Will wrote, “the prevailing dogma of black identity has, Steele believes, required blacks to ad…

The Amoral Editorial Reaction to Spitzer

USA Today has provided some chop quotes from various news outlets commenting upon the Spitzer mess.

Most of the commentators have been so scrupulous in avoiding all talk of the sanctity of marriage that they have fallen headlong into a vat of secular verbiage. This avoidance is the obverse of sanctimony, but it really amounts to the same thing. Even atheists can be sanctimonious, and Spitzer fell from grace this time because he was not sanctimonious.

The Daily News allowed that Spitzer’s fall from grace chipped away at his “moral authority.” Character and honesty are important, and “his blithe willingness to order up a hooker by telephone revealed an abysmal and disqualifying lack of judgment.”

Ah, so that’s what it was, a lack of judgment. Only in the age of Madonna -- no, not that one -- can you have moral authority without having morals.

Spitzer also lacked “perspective,” which “cast him into a freefall in the polls.” He showed his “dark side” to an ever recoiling New York. The paper b…

Spitzer, a Proletarian View

The question is: Now that former attorney general of New York and former governor the Big Apple Elliot Spitzer has suffered public humiliation, lost his job and his reputation and seen an earthquake size crack begin to form in what previously had been supposed to be an ideal if somewhat Hollywood-like marriage, where do we go from here?

Should Spitzer be prosecuted? In other words, now that the scourge of Wall Street has been flayed and executed, what do we do with the corpse?

Some few rotten businessmen at the receiving end of Spitzer’s lash and some few newspaper owners determined to show the world that, even though they are by profession and inclination conservative Republican slayers, they too can cry with the best of them “I’m fer’sticken his head on a pike and show’n it on Brooklyn bridge,” are for further prosecution.

My proletariat workmates watched the unmasking of Spitzer on television between lunch and coffee breaks.

Working folk are not quite as severe in these matters as ass …

The Joy of Schadenfreude

“Am I proud?
Yes, why should I not be,
When even men who do not fear God
Fear me?

Those few lines were written by Alexander Pope, an English poet and critic active in the early 1700’s, who had some reason to be proud. He was a fine poet and an even better journalist who delighted in pricking the airy balloons of the high and mighty of his time, sometimes anonymously. Prisons yawned in the 18th century to swallow libelers, and men kept their dueling pistols near at hand.

His biographer tells us that Pope’s physical defects – he was misshapen owing to a fall from a horse at an early age – “made him an easy target for heartless mockery.”

He also had a religious problem: “Pope's father, the son of an Anglican vicar, had converted to Catholicism, which caused the family many problems. At the time Catholics suffered from repressive legislation and prejudices - they were not allowed to enter any universities or hold public employment. Thus Pope had an uneven education, which was often interrup…

WEIGEL VS MULTICULTURALISM AND PC

Western countries must rid themselves of multiculturallist delusions and take the assimilation of immigrants much more seriously than has been the case in recent decades. . . . Bringing immigrants from outside the civilizational orbit of the West to an appreciation of . . . civil society norms must be the task of civic education -- George Weigel


Jihadism is a mortal threat to the civilization of the West, writes George Weigel, Catholic theologian and member of the Ethics and Public Policy Center , in a fascinating short new book, Faith, Reason, and the War Against Jihadism, A Call to Action. Unlike as in World War II, he says, we do not understand the motives of the global jihadists nor how to confront their danger.

“Jihadism is a religiously inspired ideology [which teaches] that it is the moral obligation of all Muslims to employ whatever means [are] necessary to compel the world’s submission to Islam,” is Richard John Neuhaus’s definition. Jihadism’s goal is a global Islamic…

The Science Of Plastic Bags

Science is sometimes like the giant in the fairy tale who, in pursuit of the princess, with one step far out paces her.

It turns out, according to a report in timesonline, that plastic bags pose only a minimal threat to marine animals: “Scientists and environmentalists have attacked a global campaign to ban plastic bags which they say is based on flawed science and exaggerated claims.”

Ah, so.

Does this mean that the plans afoot in the Connecticut legislature to scuttle plastic bags in favor of paper bags will be rethought?

Don’t bet on it. Connecticut’s legislature is not into re-thinking.

If they were, they would understand that business regulations – really, a tax on business operations – probably should be kept at a minimum in recessionary periods. States that pile on regulations lose businesses to other more accommodating states like ... well, name any state other than Connecticut, the highest taxed state in the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Has The Fat Lady Sung?

Dick Morris, once an advisor to President Bill Clinton and First Lady Hillary Clinton, thinks so.

“The race is over,” Morris writes in his column, “The results are already clear. Obama will go to the Democratic Convention with a lead of between 100 and 200 elected delegates. The remaining question is: What will the superdelegates do then? But is that really a question? Will the leaders of the Democratic Party be complicit in its destruction? Will they really kindle a civil war by denying the nomination to the man who won the most elected delegates? No way. They well understand that to do so would be to throw away the party’s chances of victory and to stigmatize it among African-Americans and young people for the rest of their lives. The Democratic Party took 20 years to recover from the traumas of 1968 and it is not about to trigger a similar bloodletting this year.”

How does Sen. John McCain, the likely Republican nominee for president, fit into the mix?

He serves as a guarantor that th…

Mobilize Dodd

Latin America is hotting up, owing mostly to the exertions of Hugo Chavez, the Marxist oil baron of Venezuela.

Columbia, under the American supported pro-democratic regime of Alvaro Uribe, has been fighting a battle against a drug smuggling, Marxist, Venezuelan and Ecuadorian protected, well equipped army of narco-terrorists for about forty years.

Last month, the Columbian army, its patience wearing thin, followed one particularly vicious thug, Raul Reyes, FARC's foreign minister, into Equador and bombed the stuffing out of his band of merry men, leaving Reyes at room temperature.

This did not please Chavez and his Charlie McCarthy puppet, Rafael Correa, the duly elected president of Ecuador.

The solution to all this nonsense is obvious: Mobilize U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd to remove the tax exemption granted by his comrades in the congress to Chavez. If taxes on energy production are good enough for Americans, they ought to be good enough for Reyes' patron. At the very least, the const…

Proportional Primaries: How Do You Like Me Now?

In choosing to embrace proportional rather than winner take all primaries, the Democrat Party, true to its nature, was being democratic. But, in fact, proportional primaries, in which delegates are assigned in proportion to the votes cast, this year have elongated the primary season.

For Republicans, the primary season was closed at the beginning of March. Democrats have miles to go before they sleep. The long Democrat primary season virtually assures a brokered convention, bruised egos and a disappointed Democrat electorate.

This is simply another way of saying that Democrats have shortened the time they may devote to the general election. Whether or not a shortened general election will prove to be a bust or boom for Democrats is very much an open question.

There are two schools of thought: One holds that the incessant squabbling between senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama during the duration of the Democrat primary will keep the two in the news, while Republican Sen. John McCai…

The Rundown After The Runoff

Always gracious in victory, Sen. Hillary Clinton has hinted that she might be willing to offer phenom Sen. Barack Obama the coveted second spot on her ticket. "That may be where this is headed,” Clinton said on CBS’s “The Early Show after winning primaries in Rhode Island, Ohio and Texas, “but of course we have to decide who is on the top of ticket. I think the people of Ohio very clearly said that it should be me." It was John “Cactus Jack” Garner, Franklin Roosevelt’s VP, who once said of the office that it “wasn’t worth a warm bucket of spit.” Clinton’s primary and caucus haul after Second Super Tuesday is a piddling 13; Obama has won 28, giving him an insurmountable lead in pledged delegates. These numbers have led some number crunchers to determine that it would be more or less impossible for Clinton to win a sufficient number of delegates to cinch the nomination before the Democrat nominating convention. And has anyone seen Bill lately? It had been widely speculated b…

Victor David Hanson's Interview With Junge Freiheit

Victor David Hanson was interviewed recently by Junge Freiheit, a Swiss newspaper.

On Mexico, about which he’s written a book, “Mexifornia”, he said, “1)We are wide open to terrorist infiltration; 2) We privilege illegal immigration from Mexico, while penalizing and delaying legal immigration from Asia, Africa, and Europe; 3) We serve as a safety valve and enabler for Mexico, which therefore will never make needed reforms; 4) We are creating a chauvinistic tribalism, a race industry that tries to convert the presence of 15 million illegal aliens into some sort of political movement; 5) We use cheap illegal labor to ensure our own entry level workers cannot bargain or organize.”

Hanson was asked why the United States was permitting illegal immigration to happen. “The libertarian/corporate Right,” he said, “likes cheap, exploitable labor, while the identity-politics on the Left wants more constituents. And the majority in between was asleep at the wheel for thirty years, afraid to speak …

Someone Up There Likes Him

The trial in Chicago of Barack Obama financial supporter Tony Rezko will begin on Monday, one day before Tuesday’s decisive Democrat primary elections. Good government types sometimes quarrel over which US city, New Orleans or Chicago, is the more corrupt.

What Makes Ralph Run?

Hostilities have commenced between Ralph “The Spoiler” Nader and U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd, who put his presidential campaign to rest recently having garnered about 1% of his party’s vote in reliable Democrat presidential primary polls.

Commenting on Ralph Nader’s entrée into the presidential race, Dodd offered, “Eight years ago, obviously he cost Al Gore the election, in my view, no question about it. We've paid an awful price the last eight years because of one man's ego."

This caused an unamused Nader to respond, “Why are they so keen on denying voters the free choice of their candidates? Why don't they pick up these progressive issues? Running for office is free speech. It's the consummate expression of the First Amendment. I'm to blame for Kerry's loss?"

The notion that Nader lost the election for Gore is something of a red herring. Florida may have slipped away due to Nader, but Gore was unable to win his own state, Tennessee, Bill Clinton's state, …