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Showing posts from June, 2008

What Was Not Said At This Year’s Prescott Bush Dinner -- A Manifesto

Political commentary here in Connecticut, the land of steady liberalism, is not dangerous or witty or even humorous; it is dull and repetitious, which is one of the reasons newspapers are foundering. The Harford Courant, which bills itself as the oldest continuously published newspaper in the United States, has fallen on hard times. In fact, it has now fallen into the unforgiving clutches of Sam Zell , a real estate mogul who seems to believe that newspapers should be more like blog sites and should operate on four rather than six cylinders. The Courant is in the process of being downsized or, in the lingo of its new owner, “right-sized.” Apparently right-sizing is a synonym for “made profitable.” We all know how real estate moguls make profits. As the press goes, so goes the state. Connecticut too is foundering, flopping around on the sand like a beached minnow, gasping for breath. The narrative in newspaper land could be more exciting, but the ideological mix on most editorial p

Unity

The two Democrat presidential primary battlers, senators Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, will be meeting soon in Unity, New Hampshire -- population 1,600 -- to, er, unify. The town had the distinction of splitting its primary votes evenly between Clinton and Obama, who appear to have fallen in love on second sight. Obama will help to discharge Hillary’s outstanding debts, and Hillary will smile warmly, say cuddly things about Obama and sooner of latter bring hubby Bill along in her wake. It will be all sweetness and light; just wait an see.

Taxachussetts Axing Its Income Tax?

The news to the north of us in Massachusetts is that the good people who once dumped tea in Boston harbor to protest taxes and an indifferent ruling power are once again upset by high taxes. Like Connecticut, Massachusetts has been for many years a one party state. Like Connecticut, spending in Massachusetts has increased to a point where further increases threaten to beggar the population. Like Connecticut, the ruling powers occasionally take a break from spending to remind the people they are representing that they live in a representative democracy and can cashier their politicians whenever they like. Unlike Connecticut, Massachusetts has a ballot initiative , a political instrument that can be used by voters to reduce their tax burden and send a message to fat, greedy politicians in the grip of special interests. The axe the tax forces also have made a powerful argument for budget transparency: And very shortly Massachusetts will use its ballot initiative to attempt to repea

Slip Sliding Away

Politico is reporting that the love affair between Sen. Barack Obama and such stalwarts of the progressive movement as Jane Hamsher , proprietor of Firedoglake.com, has crashed on the rocks of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. One imagines that Sen. Chris Dodd, who has been pushing legislation that would punishing telcom companies for co-operating with the Bush regime, is not overly pleased that Obama has decided to support a bill containing an immunity provision for the offenders. Further irritating the progressive anti-war left, Obama's position on immunity for the telecoms puts him in the same bullpen with the much detested Sen. Joe Lieberman, the hobgoblin of little minds on the left. “It angers the blogosphere to its core,” said Hamsher. “We want to be able to know: What did you do? If we can get that information, we can make sure they don’t do that again. We can get the public engaged. “[A] lot of people tried to convince themselves that he [Obama] was a progressi

Anybody Seen Blumie?

Chris Healy , the go-get’em Chairman of the state Republican Party, has a question for Connecticut’s suit happy Attorney General Richard Blumenthal. Here’s a novel idea - why doesn’t Attorney General Dick Blumenthal file a lawsuit against Countrywide Financial and seek damages for their predatory and fraudulent lending practices that have resulted in thousands of foreclosures, including an untold amount in Connecticut? Substantively and procedurally, the suit would be a no-brainer but for the fact that Blumenthal is a Democrat. He could piggy-back his suit on a suit being brought by Attorney General Lisa Madigan of Illinois, Sen. Barack Obama’s hometown. Blumenthal, after all, has made his career by hopping eagerly on other attorneys' general hobby horses. So what’s the problem? Maybe Dick Blumenthal won’t do it because if he did, he might be able to question, under oath, Angelo Mozlio, the CEO of Countrywide who arranged for V.I.P. loans to special customers like U.S. Sen Chris Do

Playing with Race

It would be imprudent on Sen. Barack Obama’s part to imagine that racism will take a holiday during his campaign. It is therefore prudent of him to head it off at the pass. At the end of June, after Obama warned a friendly crowd it could expect a resurgence of racism, the Washington Post ran a story about neo-Nazis and segregationist groups spurring racism on internet sites. The presence of some racist bad apples on the internet should not give anyone pause to suppose that the opposition party apple cart is infested with racists and, though it doesn’t happen often enough, even racists are redeemable. Sen. Robert Byrd waved farewell to the Klu Klux Klan long ago and grew up to be, at present, the longest serving senator in the U.S. Congress. Conservatives and Republican well wishers have in their stables many non-racists politicians and political commentators such as Condoleezza Rice and Thomas Sowell, both of whom are African American non-racists. Still less should anyone suppose

The Politics of fear 4

Sane people, according to former counselor to ex-President Bill Clinton, Bill Curry are those who acknowledge global warming. Those who doubt global warming must be, by implication, mad. Within global warming circles, the dispute is not over whether such a phenomena exists but rather how much of the problem is caused by fossil fuels which, if extremist environmentalists have their way, soon will be rationed. Curry has not yet ventured an opinion on the sanity of rabid environmentalists who would prefer the price of gas to rise to unaffordable levels so as to spur conservation measures. But forget all this quibbling. A new crisis looms: Years from now — probably not many years — historians and everyone else will wonder how we wasted so much time talking trash with the country in such peril. How could we have so many [Democrat primary] debates and miss so many big issues?... To appreciate the oversight, consider two words that never came up in any debate: food and water. It turns out

Has Hitchens Gone Too Far?

It’s one thing to deny the existence of God and incur the relatively harmless wrath of theists. It’s been a long time since thumbscrews were applied to atheists. It’s quite another thing, much more dangerous, to assert that women as a species don’t need to be funny largely because beauty is magically attractive to men whose senses of humor are equally attractive to women. Hitchen's theory is that beautiful women simply don’t need humor; men need it to attract women. This mode of reasoning is full of logical pitfalls. If Hitchens is right, how does one account for non-beautiful women in his Darwinian universe, not to mention humorless men? But notice how the agile Hitchens overleaps these obstacles in this following – dare we say it? –fetchingly humorous clip:

Dancing Round the Manchester School Board May Pole

First, God created the idiot; this was for practice. Then he created the school board -- Mark Twain Over in Manchester, two students, apparently thugs with prior police records, beat up a third student. This attracted the attention of Chris Powell, the no-nonsense Managing Editor of the Journal Inquirer, who wrote a column about it, which in turn attracted the attention of Margarett H. Hackett, chairwoman of the Manchester Board of Education. In his column , Mr. Powell, noted that two months had elapsed since the Manchester student was “beaten so badly that he required brain surgery.” The paper discovered from court proceedings that “the two students charged in the beating already had felony convictions. One of them had a pending plea bargain for assault conspiracy that was about to send him to prison.” Since state law requires police to notify school superintendents when students in they systems are arrested, Mr. Powell reasoned, it was likely that “Manchester's school administ

YouTubing the Candidate of Change

Barack Obama has decided to forgo public financing in the general campaign against John McCain. Is anyone surprised? Obama has been a money magnet for some time. Forgoing public financing, he likely will outspend McCain by a ratio of two to one. More money means more advertising; more advertising means more spin. Advertising dollars are a protective wrap that keeps the candidate far from the prehensile grasp of inquiring reporters. Obama also has decided not to appear with McCain in town hall settings, where both candidates might have a go at each other, opting instead to rely on canned public speeches. Some of the leads in newspaper stories mentioned that Obama “turned down $84.1 million in federal dollars” by opting out of the federal system, not exactly a selfless act. Well, if any of us could triple or possible quadruple the amount to money we would receive by waving away $84 million, what would we do? There are no surprises here. Why should it surprise anyone that the candidat

To Be or Not to Be a Blog

Mayor Eddie Perez of Hartford, availing himself of his constitutional right to protest injustice, has fired off a letter to the Hartford Courant lambasting the paper for allowing unfiltered “racist” remarks from commentators on its internet site. Anyone who has visited such sites knows that such sections of internet newspapers are full of bomb throwing, uncivil brutes who can’t spell. These too are exercising their God given constitutional rights to pull the hair pieces from the heads of politicians and whip them up in the air like the hats of naval colleges graduates. Hey, you don’t like it? Move to Cuba. Begin with the quite ordinary and unchallengeable assertion that newspapers are not blog sites and all of Perez’s objections seem reasonable. He is urging editors to monitor the comment sections and clean out the bar of brawlers and ruffians. Editorials in newspapers, always unsigned, are anonymous, and newspapers generally select which letters are to be printed. Letters are scr

Lieberman Awarded "Political Pulitzer"

News Channel 8 is reporting that Sen. Joe Lieberman has received this year’s Jefferson Award for national and local public service. The Awards -- founded by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Senator Robert Taft Junior and presidential economic adviser Sam Beard in 1972 – are considered to be the Nobel Prizes for public and community services. Lieberman was awarded the prize this year for having helped to create the Department of Homeland Security after the September 11 terrorist attacks in New York in 20o1. Ned Lamont, Lieberman’s erstwhile opponent for U.S. Senate is not expected to send the senator a congratulatory note.

Dodd’s Implausible Admissions

The admissions made by U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd concerning his preferred mortgage loan from Countrywide – now under investigation for unorthodox business practices by, among others, Dodd – are not likely to satisfy curious minds. The charge against Dodd is that he had received special treatment on his mortgage loan in part because of his status as the chairman of the Senate banking committee. In at least two comments made to a Hartford Courant reporter, Dodd indicated there was no special treatment. The lead paragraph in the most recent Courant story discloses: “Sen. Christopher Dodd admitted today that he and wife were told during their 2003 loan process with Countrywide Financial Corp. that they were being included in a special VIP program -- but the senator said he interpreted that as a benefit for being a longtime Countrywide customer -- not as special treatment because of his Senate position.” “He also insisted again today, in two separate news conferences, that even though he w

GLOBAL WARMING AND PRIORITIES FOR ADVANCING GLOBAL WELFARE

The Senate debates the Lieberman-Warner bill on Global Warminig. Over 31,000 scientists sign the Oregon Institute of Science petition rejecting Global Warming. Twenty-five 6th-grade pupils in the David A. Brown Middle School in Wildomar , California, sent eight letters on Global Warming to The Heartland Institute describing what they had been taught about Global Warming by reading ten articles. The articles they read were of floods in Asia, Mexico, and India, and of the shrinking of fetuses by air pollution. None mentioned Global Warming but the children made that attribution. Here are a couple of their letters, with their errors uncorrected: “I think your fools for denying G.W. you know it could kill us all & you’re just adding to it. I want you to help stop G.W. not increase it.” “We feel that they are destroying our planet by saying G.W. is not a crisis. You think GW is not a crisis but it is; you know deep down that it’s a real thing that’s happening. Everyone has a part in h

The Dodd Special

Answering charges that he had received special treatment from Countrywide, a mortage lender, U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd noted in the Hartford Courant that he had shopped around and gotten the same rates available to millions of other Americans. According to Portfolio , a Conte Nast publication, that is not strictly true. Dodd, chairman of the Banking Committee, “… received better deals than those available to ordinary borrowers. Home-loan customers can reduce their interest rates by paying “points”—one point equals 1 percent of the loan’s value. For V.I.P.'s, Countrywide often waived at least half a point and eliminated fees amounting to hundreds of dollars for underwriting, processing and document preparation. If interest rates fell while a V.I.P. loan was pending, Countrywide provided a free “float-down” to the lower rate, eschewing its usual charge of half a point. Some V.I.P.'s who bought or refinanced investment properties were often given the lower interest rate associated wit

In Search of the Real Obama

Sen. Barack Obama’s background looms important for some people, including Obama himself. Since the advent of modern psychology, we’ve been in the habit of deducing the child from the parents. But the world is more serpentine than all that. Sometimes the child is not an apple fallen from the parental tree. Because of the intervention of the human will – think of former President Bill Clinton in the act of re-invention – likes sometimes produce opposites. In addition to learning from one’s own mistakes, one may also learn valuable lessons from the mistakes of one’s parents. Former president Richard Nixon’s parents, both Quaker quietists, were not, one supposes, ardent accolades of Fredrick Nietzsche. “I can’t find my copy,” Nixon said to Monica Crowley when his Nietzsche appeared to be lost in 1992. “I must have lent it out to someone. I can’t believe I’m missing my Nietzsche! I always try to look at this stuff during a presidential campaign to remind me of why I went through the damne

McCain, Lieberman and McEnroe

For the second time, the author of “To Wit,” Hartford Courant columnist and blogger Colin McEnroe has suggested a homoerotic relationship between senators John McCain and Joe Lieberman, who incurred McEnroe’s undying enmity after he decided to defend his seat from liberal heart-throb Ned Lamont. Lately, Lieberman has taken to defending Sen. John McCain from the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. Of course, McEnroe asserts the claim purely theoretically to illustrate an obscure point, which is on a par with defending a man never accused of wife beating by claiming, rather clamorously, “Of course the man is not a wife beater.” For better or for worse, here is the McEnroe slur, in all its glory.

Morticians Examine the Corpse of Sen. Hillary Clinton’s Campaign

The morticians are hard at work examining the corpse of the Hillary Clinton campaign. Over at the Hartford Courant Bill Curry , former counselor to former President Bill Clinton and twice nominee for Connecticut governor on the Democrat ticket, thinks Hillary was done in by overreaching and bad timing. “Clinton made ‘experience’ a talking point after Chris Dodd and Joe Biden, who had more of it, were safely out of the race. Amazing that she still thought ‘grizzled veteran’ could trump ‘new kid on the block.’” And the kid was a political rock star too: “Barack Obama may be the brightest, most charismatic politician of our time. In a week in which we remember Robert Kennedy, many compare the two. I think Ted Kennedy got it right, though, in comparing Obama to Jack.” Others, seizing upon Obama’s foreign policy views, have compared the likely Democrat presidential nominee unfavorably to former President Jimmy Carter , another Democrat president thought to be at the time charismatic an

Bush Lied, Not

This from the Washington Post , not known as a hotbed of neo-con frauds: But dive into Rockefeller's report, in search of where exactly President Bush lied about what his intelligence agencies were telling him about the threat posed by Saddam Hussein, and you may be surprised by what you find. On Iraq's nuclear weapons program? The president's statements "were generally substantiated by intelligence community estimates." On biological weapons, production capability and those infamous mobile laboratories? The president's statements "were substantiated by intelligence information." On chemical weapons, then? "Substantiated by intelligence information." On weapons of mass destruction overall (a separate section of the intelligence committee report)? "Generally substantiated by intelligence information." Delivery vehicles such as ballistic missiles? "Generally substantiated by available intelligence." Unmanned aeri

Obama’s Pre-Nomination Speech

It was not exactly a nomination acceptance speech , because Sen. Barack Obama has yet to be formally nominated by his party for president. That will occur at the Democrat nominating convention in Denver, Colorado from August 25-28. But the almost certain Democrat candidate for president did say, “Tonight, I can stand before you and say that I will be the Democratic nominee for president of the United States,” so evidently something had been decided; a Rubicon had been crossed. Obama now has the number of delegates necessary to assure his nomination at the convention. Very likely, he had been preparing this speech – What to call it? Will the “pre-nomination speech” do? – for a long while. As early as the tail end of March, Sen. Chris Dodd thought the Obama juggernaut was irresistible. The super delegates pushed Obama into the winner’s circle, which is to say that this election was determined by the guys and gals in the formerly “smoke filled back room.” The Democrat presidential nom

Obama Commencing at Wesleyan

Sen. Barack Obama has now left Wesleyan, where he stood in for the ailing Sen. Edward Kennedy and delivered a commencement speech . He was under an obligation not to be too political in his remarks; no one wanted Wesleyan to lose federal funds because of his appearance. Apparently, under federal regulations, a private university cannot abide political speeches from aspiring presidential candidates without risking federal funding. Obama was also obliged to say something swell about the Kennedys. These obligations naturally put a strain on political discourse. But he steered around the pilings with great agility and ended up complimenting Jack, the architect of the Bay of Pigs fiasco, and Bobby and Teddy. According to an AP report in the Journal Inquirer , “Barack Obama urged college graduates Sunday to ‘make us believe again’ by dedicating themselves to public service. We may disagree as Americans on certain issues and positions, but I believe we can be unified in service to a greater

Jesus, the Apostles and the Early Church

Jesus, the Apostles and the Early Church By Pope Benedict XVI Publisher: Ignatius Press Price: $14.95/hardcover In Jesus, The Apostles and the early Church , we meet the same Pope Benedict whose recent visit charmed so many Americans. The Pope’s manner of writing is pastoral and deceptively simple. He writes with authority not only because of his station within the Catholic Church, but also primarily because he is a superb   theologian. In the late Middle Ages, theology was considered the “queen of sciences” because it contained all the other sciences, including what we moderns would call textual exegesis. Consider the following commentary on an incident with which most Christians would be familiar: We know that Peter, the “rock” upon which Jesus was said to have built his church, denied Jesus three times before he was taken away by Roman soldiers to be executed. After the Resurrection, a transfigured Christ appears to some of the apostles, Peter among them, on the shore of L

THE AIR IS SAFE TO BREATHE

On March 27, 2008, EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson stiffened the 8-hour standard for ground-level ozone from 0.08 parts per million to 0.075 ppm, which every state is required to attain. Critics argued that because he did not stiffen it to .07 or below, serious health effects would occur: decreased lung function, increased asthma attacks, and premature death. Writes the National Association of Clean Air Agencies’ director to the Wall Street Journal (May 30), Yet Mr. Johnson chose to forgo an opportunity to protect the health and welfare of millions … who will … be exposed to excessive levels of ozone because they are not being covered by the new standard. From the beginning, around 1960, emissions of ozone-smog have been overstated, while its downward trend over decades has been understated. The concentration of ozone and particulate matter comes not just from emissions of autos but also from nature (trees and bushes). Hugh W. Ellsaesser, who retired from the U.S. Air Forc

Hey Obama, Got Any Change?

Sen. Barack Obama hadn’t planned a trip to Iraq until Sen. John McCain prodded him to do so. Obama then issued a press release, which fell far short of a full blown speech, that he had planned a trip sometime in the misty future, though sadly not in the company of McCain. Any post-surge trip to Iraq is bound to be disappointing to Obama; at the very least it will force him to update his dusty read on Iraq, where things, Speaker of the US House Nancy Pelosi tells us, "have improved." They have improved because al-Qaida in Iraq has been routed. Even the New York Times , the Iraq war’s persistent doomsday machine, has noted the change, not that any of this will have much effect on Times editorials. This far into the election season, politicians and partisan newspapers have already completed their narratives, their books have been sent to the printers, and any corrections will have to be posted in a second edition, hopefully after Obama has occupied the White House. That is t