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Showing posts from October, 2008

The Fish Wrap

Al Quada, Non-partisan in American Election Al Qaeda is trying its best this Halloween to be non-partisan, according to a recent Reuters report . “’O God, humiliate Bush and his party, O Lord of the Worlds, degrade and defy him,’ Abu Yahya al-Libi said at the end of sermon marking the Muslim feast of Eid al-Fitr, in a video posted on the Internet. “Libi, a top al Qaeda commander believed to be living in Afghanistan or Pakistan, called for God's wrath to be brought against Bush equating him with past tyrants in history.” For months, militants on al Qaeda-linked websites have been debating the significance of Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama or Republican John McCain, but the politically savvy leadership has been careful not to be as partisan as, say, CNN. Why the reticence? "To support a particular candidate,” wrote Rita Katz, the director of SITE Intelligent Group, a terrorist monitor, “would debase al-Qaeda's long-standing argument that the United St

Why Connecticut Needs a Constitutional Convention

A new UConn poll from the Center for Survey Research and Analysis at the University of Connecticut shows that 50 percent of voters support a constitutional convention to amend the state constitution, while 39 percent oppose the measure. Even more dramatically, the poll shows that sixty-five percent of voters support citizen ballot initiative, always an admission that state legislators, the prisoners of special interests, no longer represent the will of the people. According to the poll’s director, Christine Kraus, "The constitutional convention question appears to be a referendum on the performance of the General Assembly." A ballot initiative would, in essence, transform the entire population into a citizens’ action group. It is for that reason opposed by – guess who? – Tom Swan, the executive director of the Connecticut Citizen Action Group, among others. Swan, Ned Lamont’s campaign guru, fears that a convention might propose a direct initiative ballot that will tamper wi

The Doninger Case

The Avery Doninger case has now reached the courts, which means that it likely will be settled on legal grounds. But, as we all know, legal settlements are not always compatible with common sense. Common sense would have settled this issue long ago. Doninger is the student – now famous or infamous, depending on one’s point of view – who called the arrogant administrators in her school “douchbags,” not the politest of terms. But she had, as the lawyers might say, cause. The precipitating cause of Doninger’s outburst, in an e-mail message to her friends, was frustration; it happens to the best of us. Those details are described at considerable length, and in luminous prose, by Jon Schoenhorn in his brief on Doninger’s behalf and in a series of posts written by Andy Thibault , who maintains a site called, modestly enough, The Cool Justice Report, the nearest thing we have in the state to Nat Hentoff’s hard hitting reportage. Tibault is the natural born enemy of pomposity wherever it

Dodd, Lieberman and Buyer’s Remorse

The poll numbers on the public’s dissatisfaction with Connecticut’s two US senators, Chris Dodd and Joe Lieberman, suggest something is rotten in Denmark. The approval ratings of both senators dipped below 40 percent in October, according to a recent poll commissioned by the Hartford Courant from the Center for Survey Research and Analysis at the University of Connecticut. The dip is regarded as especially troublesome for Dodd, who is up for re-election in 2010; Lieberman will not face the firing squad until 2012. Lieberman’s unpopularity may be traced to his attempt at rebranding. A liberal Democrat for most of his political career, Lieberman jumped the Democrat Party fence more than two years ago when he was challenged and defeated in a primary by Ned Lamont , a wealthy but politically undistinguished anti-Iraq war candidate from Greenwich, Connecticut. Lamont’s candidacy was supported by former governor and senator Lowell Weicker, whom Lieberman had earlier defeated in a bitter

Time and Old Wounds: Dr. Petit's Strikes

There are some wounds time won’t heal. Such is the murder of three members of Dr. William Petit’s household. The household -- Dr. Petit, his wife and two daughters – was attacked by two career criminals, Steven Hayes and Joshua Komisarjevsky, both on parole. A recent news story – “Second look, A Year After Cheshire Home Invasion, William Petit Speaks Up For Tougher Crime Laws” – pithily describes what happened: “On a July night in 2007, intruders clubbed and trussed Petit at his home in Cheshire, the start of an ordeal that ended with the deaths of his wife, Jennifer Hawke-Petit, and their daughters, Hayley, 17, and 12-year-old Michaela. “Hawke-Petit and Michaela were raped. The mother was strangled. Both daughters were left bound in their beds, the house doused with gasoline and set afire.” The scene of the crime has since disappeared. Where before there was a house and a family, now there is nothing. The erasure process, sometimes confused with a healing process, has now be

Hitchens and the Greenspan Spanking

This is why Christopher Hitchens is such a lovable atheist: Asserting in Vanity Fair that the United States now has entered it’s “banana republic” phase, Hitchens writes, “And am I the only one who finds it distinctly weird to reflect that the last head of the Federal Reserve and the current head of the Treasury, Alan Greenspan and Hank “The Hammer” Paulson, should be respectively the votaries of the cults of Ayn Rand and Mary Baker Eddy, two of the battiest females ever to have infested the American scene? That Paulson should have gone down on one knee to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, as if prayer and beseechment might get the job done, strikes me as further evidence that sheer superstition and incantation have played their part in all this. Remember the scene at the end of Peter Pan, where the children are told that, if they don’t shout out aloud that they all believe in fairies, then Tinker Bell’s gonna fucking die? That’s what the fall of 2008 was like, and quite a fall it was, at that.”

The Righteous Wind

On the campaign trail, after examining polls that show him far ahead of Sen. John McCain, Sen. Barack Obama said the felt “a righteous wind at his back.” Over in Evian, France, Jesse Jackson felt the same wind lifting his sails. According to Amir Taheri , a New York Post opinion columnist, the message Jackson conveyed in the first World Policy Forum in France was: Prepare for a new day. He promised "fundamental changes" in US foreign policy - saying America must "heal wounds" it has caused to other nations, revive its alliances and apologize for the "arrogance of the Bush administration." The most important change would occur in the Middle East, where "decades of putting Israel's interests first" would end. Jackson believes that, although "Zionists who have controlled American policy for decades" remain strong, they'll lose a great deal of their clout when Barack Obama enters the White House. Is it possible that Jackson h

The Courant Endorsement of Obama and Comments

A few comments on the Hartford Courant’s endorsement of Democrat presidential nominee Barack Obama: “Today we endorse a second Democrat, Sen. Barack Obama, with the hope that if elected, he governs from the middle as Mr. Clinton did.” Hope must be based on something more firm than pious wishes, and there is no reason to suppose that, on important matters, Obama will govern from the middle. When has Obama ever crossed the liberals in his own party? Answer: never. Just as Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain is not President George Bush, so Obama is not former President Bill Clinton. During the primaries, Sen. Hillary Clinton thought she saw some differences between the two, and so did the Courant, which endorsed Mrs. Clinton as the presidential nominee of her party. “Mr. Obama must resist serving only his party's interests and instead serve the greater interests of a worried nation.” Oh? Must he indeed? If the Democrats garner enough seats to establish a veto-proof

The Buckley, Hitchens Defections to Obama

There have been in recent days two notable defections to the Obama camp. Christopher Buckley crossed over in a piece he wrote for National Review, the conservative journal of opinion founded by his late father, William F. Buckley Jr. Buckley’s spot in the magazine thereafter disappeared. According to Buckley, he though it better to remove himself; he was not kicked to the curb. Such things do not happen at National Review, a genteel publication with a stiletto in its belt. The second notable defection is that of Christopher Hitchens, a friend of Buckley’s. It is not known at this point whether both agreed to jump into the fire together or whether their joint defections were serindipidous. Hitchens is a little hard to pigeonhole. At various points in his pilgrim’s progress through this veil of tears, he has been a Trotskyite, a far left writer for The Nation magazine, not generally regarded as a conservative publication, an atheist and an ardent supporter of the war in Iraq. Here Hi

Succession Worries, Palin, McCain, Lieberman, Four Reporters in Five Acts

Most reporters in Connecticut appear to think that John McCain, should he buck the odds and become president, will die in office approximately 30 seconds after he has been sworn in, leaving Vice President Sarah Palin to discharge the awesome duties of the presidency. They speculate that she will not be up to the task, and four of them, according to a report in the Hartford Courant by Mark Pazniokas , have brought their worries to Sen. Joe Lieberman, a McCain supporter. Lieberman consulted some actuaries and told the reporters that reports of McCain’s imminent demise, to paraphrase Mark Twain, have been greatly exaggerated. Naturally, this did not convince the reporters. “Lieberman initially sidestepped a question about Palin's readiness to be president on day one. "’She's not going to have to be president from day one because McCain is going to be alive and well. I've been talking to actuaries and doctors,’ Lieberman said. ‘He can be expected to live to his mid-

Bill Ayers’ Skeletons

Billy Ayers keeps coming up, like a baby’s warm spittle, over the shoulder of US Sen. and Democrat Party presidential nominee Barack Obama. In the meantime, the diggers, among them blogger ZombieTime, keep digging. Everything you wanted to know about the saintly professor Ayres but were afraid to ask is here: William Ayers' forgotten communist manifesto: Prairie Fire . An excerpt from the manifesto: “We are a guerrilla organization. We are communist women and men, underground in the United States for more than four years… We need a revolutionist communist party to lead the struggle, give coherence and direction to the fight, seize power and build a new society… We have only just begun. At this time, the unity and consolidation of anti imperialist forces is an urgent and pressing strategic necessity. PRAIRIE FIRE is offered as a contribution to this unity of action and purpose. Now it is in your hands. Bernadine Dhorn Jeff Jones Billy Ayres Cecilia Sojourn For The Weather Unde

Obama, Putting on Ayres

CNN, not noted for supporting the McCain candidacy, has now completed its investigatory report on the Ayres/Obama connection. The bottom line of the report: Obama’s claim that his connection with Ayres was casual is what Mark Twain might have called “a stretcher.” Bill Ayres is the now well known “unrepentant terrorist” who, along with his present wife Bernardine Dohrn, was in the silly sixties one of the founders of The Weather Underground, an anti-Vietnam group that turned to terrorism as a means of self expression. The Weather Underground bombed the Capitol in Washington DC and Congress, a distinction they share, as conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh never hesitates to point out, with the 9/11 bombers. Ayres apparently was given numerous occasions to repent of his past terrorist activity but politely declined. He said he and his wife “had not done enough” during their bombing spree in the sixties to turn the country against the war. Ayres is now a pedagogue at Uni

Where’s the Surplus?

For those who can’t live without graphs, here are four from Eric Rall writing in Dean’s World showing that: “Even with the tax cuts, and even with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Bush would have reduced the national debt by nearly half a trillion dollars if he’d kept domestic spending under control. Instead, he did just the opposite: the Medicare drug benefit, No Child Left Behind, and dozens of smaller new spending programs he pushed through a reluctant congress. And the national debt went up by $1.3 trillion.”

When equal isn’t equal

Michael Calderone of Politico reports that the media coverage of Republican presidential nominee John McCain and Democrat presidential nominee Barack Obama is now even. Up to this point, Obama was far ahead. That’s the good news. The bad news for McCain is that the Republican’s coverage is way negative: “Just 14 percent of the stories about John McCain, from the conventions through the final presidential debate, were positive in tone, according to a study released today, while nearly 60 percent were negative — the least favorable coverage of any of the four candidates on the two tickets. “The study, by The Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism, a nonpartisan journalism watchdog organization, examined 2,412 stories from 43 newspapers and cable news shows in the six-week period beginning just after the conventions and ending with the final presidential debate.” And you thought perhaps that the media was non-partisan. Ha!

An Interview With The Pakistani Spectator

Dear and respected , thanks a lot for your consent. Here are the questions for the interview. Please also send us a brief bio of yourself, and URL of your site. Please send the answers at your earliest convenience. Here are the questions please: Would you please tell us something about you and your site? I had written a political column for a few newspapers in Connecticut before I began the blog, “Connecticut Commentary: Red Notes from a Blue State,” a few years ago. The blog and the columns are devoted mostly to Connecticut politics, but I also touch on national politics and social questions. At the beginning, I thought to keep a blog so that, over a period of time, I could discover a narrative within the blog itself. I was curious what this narrative would be like. It was an experiment of sorts. Do you feel that you continue to grow in your writing the longer you write? Why is that important to you? Every little bit helps. Writing is like maintaining a foreign language: If

The Fishwrap

Soon to be Vice President Joe Biden has warned, while Barack Obama is performing his victory dance in the red states, that the new president and Vice President will be “ tested ” shortly after they are sworn in to office. Will they meet the test? You’betcha! For the second time (perhaps the third time; who’s keeping count?) unindicted co-conspirator in the ABSCAM flapdoodle U.S. Rep. John Murtha is, according to Pittsburg WTAE.TV Channel 4 , “calling many of the people who put him in office ‘rednecks.’ The news comes one week after Murtha claimed the area is racist, then apologized for that comment.” Who does this gaffer think he is – Joe Biden? According to the authoritative National Review Online , votive candles bearing the image of the sainted Obama have begun to appear at a street fair at Hayes and Octavia in San Francisco. The Madonna divorce continues to wend its way through the press. Soon to be former Mr. Madonna Guy Ritchie thinks his soon to be former wife is spying o


Without the ability to filibuster, the Senate would become like the House, able to pass whatever the majority wants. The threat of 41 committed Senators can cause the House to modify its desires even before legislation comes to a vote. Without that restraining power, all of the following have very good chances of becoming law in 2009 or 2010. Medicare for all -- Wall Street J., “A Liberal Supermajority,” October 17, 2008 If Obama wins with veto-proof majorities in both Senate and House, doubts and discussions about health-care will be ended. We will have "Hillary Health Care" with minor revisions to mold it to Obama health-care. That means universal health-care with a single payer as in Canada , where it is widely recognized as a failure but never changed. Obama wants employers to provide health-care insurance -- many now do -- for all their employees, or pay a fine. A parallel system, probably government-run, would arise for workers in firms that do not provi

Why Wall Street Crashed

In case there is anyone in the world other than Chris Dodd or Barney Frank who does not yet understand why Wall Street crashed, the Brits , as usual, can explain it all in five minutes and still leave you laughing.

Dodd’s Dilemma

US Sen. Chris Dodd, whom the lustrous but air-headed Paris Hilton might well consider “a wrinkly white guy,” is still playing his seemingly nefarious connections to Countrywide close to his vest. Wrinkly white guys sometimes wear vests, and in fact they are once again becoming popular among what used to be called the jet set. Way back when Countrywide, the Robin Hood of mortgage lenders, was reeling from disclosures that it had lined the pockets of powerful politicians like Dodd with special discounts and rates, the media began sniffing around Dodd’s closet . Dodd was and is the chairman of the US Senate Banking committee, and as such became a magnet for funds freely given, no strings attached of course, by the financial wizards who even then were paving the way for the current Wall Street collapse . What about this special treatment you have received from Angelo Mozilo, the serpentine head of Countrywide, the dogged media wanted to know? The legislatively pampered Countrywide

Shall There Be A Constitutional Convention?

The short and sweet answer to the question “Shall there be a constitutional convention?” ought to be a resounding “Yes!!!” The question appears on ballots once every twenty years, with predictable results. This year the party of the status quo – all the special interests that for years have been suckling on the now withered breasts of Mother Government – is especially enraged by the idea, which was put into the state constitution by committed Jeffersonians. It was Thomas Jefferson, a son of the enlightenment, who thought that the government of these states should participate in a bloody revolution every so often to clean the entrails of Mother Government of its detritus. After the French Revolution, Jefferson settled for constitutional change. The past, Jefferson thought, was younger than the present, because the past had not the advantage of current experience. The forces in Connecticut that have conspired to obstruct the calling of a constitutional convention obviously disagree.

The Good Guys and The Bad Guys, a Satire

Here on the far left, there are two kinds of bad guys: good bad guys and bad bad guys. Jesse James is an example of a good bad guy. Like US Rep. Barney Frank and US Sen. Chris Dodd, he had developed over a period of years the good bad habit of shaking down the Big Boys – large banks, trains full of wealthy commuters -- and distributing their ill gotten gains among the oppressed, some of whom were his friends. Billy the Kid was a good bad guy. He shot up a lot of bullies, some of them sheriffs, was a true white knight toward the ladies and, a Byronic romantic, allied himself with what he thought was the honorable side in a violent range war. Bit of bad luck there. Al Capone was a good bad guy: He rid Chicago of lots of bad bad guys, mostly by shooting them. He was anti-prohibitionist at a time when even FDR’s first Vice President, John Nance Garner, was tippling in the White House to protest temperance leagues. Like Charlie Rangle of New York, he was indifferent about paying taxes

Toward a Politics of Principle

Republicans who lean to the right in Connecticut are used to running the knout. This is because the mainstream media in the state is 99 and 9/10 percent pure liberal or, as timid liberals now prefer to call themselves, progressive. But there are two kinds of Republicans in Connecticut. Among a certain kind of Republican, prolonged exposure to the knout produces an amused weariness best glimpsed in the famous Reagan remark, “There you go again.” Reagan ran the knout, put salve on his wounds and lived to fight another day. Battling made him more resolute because he was not entirely absorbed by political considerations alone. He had a life. He was amused by the opposition. He had a flag to defend, and he defended it stoutly. He could boast, along with other principled warriors, that there were no scars on his back, while his front was loaded with them. For a host of reasons, there are very few Republicans of this kind in Connecticut. Politicians running for office really do, when al

A Revolutionary Frame of Mind

The time is coming when Governor Jodi Rell will no longer be able to address serious problems in Connecticut with the usual bromides. Rell, as we all know, has been a caretaker governor ever since the jailer slammed the prison door shut on former Governor John Rowland, who was in many respects also a caretaker governor. Caretaker governors are those that take care of the permanent government. Rowland swept into office on a wave of intense anger mixed with contempt for the previous governor, Lowell Weicker, father of the state’s income tax, an incubus that Connecticut’s sister state, Massachusetts, soon may attempt to shed in a ballot initiative vote. In his first campaign, Rowland promised to axe the tax but eventually succumbed, as many unprincipled (read: pragmatic) politicians do, to power brokers, mostly Democrats, with whom he quickly came to terms. The mutually beneficial deal Rowland struck with the prevailing power structure was this: There would be no serious spending or

Freddie, Fannie, Dodd and McCain

Sen. John McCain’s 2006 letter warning about Fannie and Freddie and GSE’s precedes Sen. Chris Dodd’s touching concern for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac by a significant margin. A late September story in the Hartford Courant noted that, “that although Dodd amassed a strong rhetorical record on the housing crisis, it was not until 10 months ago that he introduced legislation aimed squarely at the industry, with a bill banning practices that drove up fees for home buyers, providing millions for foreclosure counseling and strengthening the oversight of government-sponsored mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac> By that time the walls of Jericho were already crumbling. “At a hearing just seven months ago,” according to the Courant story, “Dodd deflected critics of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, saying the two firms remained healthy sources of credit, even as other mortgage firms collapsed. “'The system is under siege,’ Dodd declared, ‘and it is the GSEs that are riding to the r

The Supremes on Homosexual and Lesbian Marriage

Connecticut’s Supreme Court has decided, by judicial fiat, to ignore for purposes of law any differences between heterosexual and homosexual marriage. The court’s decision, which can be reversed only through a constitutional amendment, moves the state behind a bunker defended by only two other state supreme courts: Massachusetts and California. As always, the dissenting opinions were the more interesting Justice Peter T. Zarella denied there was a fundamental right to same-sex marriage and asserted the primacy of the legislature in deciding such issues. “The ancient definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman has its basis in biology, not bigotry,” he wrote. “If the state no longer has an interest in the regulation of procreation, then that is a decision for the legislature or the people of the state and not this court.” The majority opinion, written by Judge Richard Palmer, is little more than juridical piddle, social engineering parading as judicial reasoning