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Showing posts from March, 2009

End the War on Terror

According to Al Kamen of the Washington Post, a low level career servant in the Obama administration is making strenuous efforts to end the phrase “global war on terror.”

Mr. Kamen has unearthed an e-mail that has been circulating for some time among senior administrative officials.

"’Recently, in a LtGen [John] Bergman, USMC, statement for the 25 March [congressional] hearing, OMB required that the following change be made before going to the Hill,’ Dave Riedel, of the Office of Security Review, wrote in an e-mail.

"’OMB says: “This Administration prefers to avoid using the term ‘Long War’ or ‘Global War on Terror’ [GWOT]. Please use ‘Overseas Contingency Operation.'”

“Riedel asked recipients to ‘Please pass on to your speech writers and try to catch this change before the statements make it to OMB.’

“An OMB spokesman took issue with the interpretation of OMB's wishes. ‘There was no memo, no guidance," said Kenneth Baer. "This is the opinion of a career civil…

The Fishwrap

Attorney General Dick Blumenthal, the closest thing Connecticut has to a Delphic oracle, has said that the 90 per cent tax Democrats want to levy against AIG bonuses is constitutional. Now, helpfully, a law professor at Quinnipiac, William Dunlap, has written a piece in the Hartford Courant [“There’s Nothing Illegal About Tax to Take Back Bonuses”] that asks and answers the question, “Is confiscatory taxation constitutional?”

Short (honest) answer: It’s okay, if Democrats do it.”

Another professor, Ken Dautrich in the Department of Public Policy at UConn, asks a question dear to the heart of every Democrat, “Is Dodd Beatable?”

Short answer: Maybe yes, maybe no.

On the plus side, Dodd has money, fame and the good will of much of Connecticut’s liberal press. On the downside, there is Kevin Rennie.

“Is Mrs. Rell ‘Dishonest?’” asked the authoritorial Hartford Courant in one of its editorial epistles.

Short answer: We just don’t know.

Is the state budget deficit $7.4 billion, Mrs. Rell’s figure, …

What’s in a Word? Pope Blumenthal, Bishop McDonald and Archbishop Lawlor Seek Shelter From The Pitiless Storm

The thousands of Catholics who descended upon the state’s Capitol to protest Raised Bill No. 1098 will be gratified to learn that the whole sorry business was the result, according to a news report in the Journal Inquirer, of a misunderstanding concerning the meaning of the expression “ex-officio.”

Those Latin formulations; they get you every time.

Sen. Andrew McDonald, who along with Rep. Michael Lawlor in the House is one of the two co-chairmen of the legislature’s Judiciary Committee, received in 2007 a communication from an understandably upset parishioner of St. Catherine of Siena Roman Catholic Church in Greenwich, Mr. Thomas Gallagher.

Three years ago, a Stamford detective hired by parishioners of St. John’s Roman Catholic Church to investigate strange goings-on in the rectory of the church had documented that its pastor, the Reverend Michael Jude Fay, had embezzled hundreds of thousands of dollars of church money to finance a lavish lifestyle with another man. The Reverend Fay, t…

Blumie and Me: A Matter of Opinion

Monday, March 23, 2009 1:37:56

Dear Mr. Pesci,

I write regarding a gross factual error in your recent column in the Greenwich Citizen on a proposed bill concerning the finances of the Roman Catholic Church. Your column completely misstates and misrepresents my position on this proposal. In fact, the position you attribute to me is the exact opposite of the one I have taken.

Neither I nor my office played any role in drafting or introducing this legislation, nor were we consulted before it was submitted or raised for a hearing in the General Assembly. When asked about the proposal, I have stated consistently and repeatedly that it appears to violate the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guaranteeing freedom of religion. Far from seeking the powers or role such a proposal might authorize, I have explicitly rejected them.

Fortunately, the proposal now appears to be dead, its supporters having effectively withdrawn it.

I respectfully request that you issue a correction and edit any futu…

Mohegans to Blumenthal: No Smokes, No Slots

The Mohegan Indian tribe of Connecticut – for purposes of law, a sovereign nation – has written a letter to Governor Jodi Rell and Attorney General Richard Blumenthal on the subject of a smoking ban the governor and attorney general wish to impose upon the Indian owned casinos.

Following a bi-partisan passage in the state legislature of the ban, Tribe Chairman Bruce “Two Dogs” Bozsum wrote in a letter to the governor: "I must inform you that if this legislation is approved, that action will force us to vigorously defend our federally recognized right to govern our lands. I will be compelled to initiate legal action on behalf of the Mohegan Tribe to stop this assault on our rights. ... As you will see, legal action may put in jeopardy our slot contribution to the state of Connecticut."

And a statement from Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Council spokeswoman Lori Potter expresses solidarity: "The Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Council agrees with the Mohegan Tribal Council that thi…

AIG and the Mob

The poor, says the good book, we shall always have with us.

Lately, we are not so sure about the rich.

As information trickles down to the general public via news reports, the rich – which in Connecticut would be anyone in anyway associated with AIG, considered by many to have poisoned the public marketplace with toxic derivatives – are heading for the foxholes.

Over in Scotland, an anti-capitalist vigilante group calling itself Bank Bosses Are Criminals attacked the house and car of Sir Fred Goodwin, the former chief executive of the Royal Bank of Scotland.

“A storm of controversy has engulfed Sir Fred over the £16.9 million pension he negotiated as he was made to leave RBS for his part in bringing the bank to its knees,” the Times Online has reported.

One of the ringleaders of the vigilante mob later e-mailed a helpful note: “We are angry that rich people, like him, are paying themselves a huge amount of money, and living in luxury, while ordinary people are made unemployed, destitute an…

Dodd and the Appearance of Corruption

Ages ago, long before the Damoclean sword of the “appearance of corruption” was hanging menacingly over US Sen. Chris Dodd’s head, the senator was asked to dilate on the connection between campaign receipts and political favors. He said there was no connection in his case; any perceived connection simply meant that those who contributed to his campaigns were voting with dollars for his programs.

Of all the Sherlock Holmes’ in the world, certainly Dodd would know better than most whether he had received a quid for a quo. And he was quite sure he hadn’t – ever.

This analysis is mistaken in several important points, not the least of which is that it is not Dodd’s role to sniff out political corruption. Politicians are what lawyers would call interested parties. Journalists are, sometimes, disinterested parties. They are the bloodhounds of corruption. It is their chosen calling to sniff out corruption and expose it to the cleansing light of day, where it may be disinfected.

Somehow along the…

In Defense Of Chris Dodd, Or Why Wolf Blitzer Is A Jerk

Thursday’s Hartford Courant shows a picture of US Sen. Chris Dodd above the fold looking for all the world like a man who has seen the beginning of the end, and over his head there is a bothersome headline in three quarter inch caps proclaiming DODD’S FLIP-FLOP.

What to make of all this?

A senator has flip-flopped? Oh my! What is the country coming to?

The headline, the picture and the story follow a stunning interview with Wolf Blitzer in which Wolf pins Dodd’s ears back, slams him to the floor and dances on his chest?

But Wolf Blitzer is a jerk; always was, always will be.

Some will say he is doing his job.

Possibly -- if it is the job of a jackal to lunge into the side of a wounded wilderbeast.

Jackal? Wilderbeast? What the….

There should be something in us that recoils whenever we see jackals advancing on a corpse.

Dodd, who all his political life had shown some mastery of the legislative sausage machine, got caught up in it this time. The organ has swallowed the organ master. The first fe…

Rob Simmons’ Chances

Connecticut seems incapable of producing Republican politicians who are not moderate. The media in the state is liberal and tends to strangle in their cribs any politician who exhibits dangerous conservative tendencies.

For this reason, when the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) issued a press release that sought to tie Simmons to former President Bush’s soiled coattails, most commentators in his home state shrugged off the spitball as politics as usual.

"Rob Simmons is no moderate -- he was a staunch supporter of George Bush's failed economic policies and this race will be an opportunity to hold him accountable for that record," said DSCC communications director Eric Schultz. The DSCC also noted that Simmons had once described himself as a “big fan" of Bush.

Big yawn.

The Washington Post, not in the Bush camp, has noted that on a scale of 1 to100, Simmons’ voting record was 53 percent, which means that Simmons voted more liberally than 53 percent of his …

Simmons Is In

The Associated Press is reporting that Simmons is in:

Former Republican Rep. Rob Simmons said Sunday that he plans to run against Democratic Sen. Christopher Dodd.

Simmons said he made the decision to join the race after talking with relatives.

"The family had a long meeting today and was unanimous that I run," he said in an e-mail message to The Associated Press. "So I am running."
Perhaps the relatives had shared with Simmons a recent Quinnipiac poll.

The Evolution of a Budget Debate, Magic Money, Unanswered Questions

Before Governor Jodi Rell presented her budget address to the assembled legislature, she had issued warnings that serious cuts would be necessary to balance a budget that, looking down the road, was around $8 billion in the red, a figure certain to increase.

But the most immediate problem facing the legislature was a short term current budget deficit of about $1.35 billion, a more manageable figure.

Connecticut had not faced these kind of deficits since its last pre-income tax budget. The state chose to settle the last pre-income tax budget deficit by instituting an income tax proposed in the early 90’s by then Gov. Lowell Weicker. The $8 billion deficit the state of Connecticut now is facing is larger than the last Gov. William O’Neill pre-income tax budget of about $7.5 billion, and naturally all legislators and the governor wish to be regarded as serious in discharging their fiduciary responsibilities.

Unlike the federal government – which borrows money from foreign entities and may p…

Auto de Fe Friday: Words We Hope Not To See In The Media Today

Words banned on auto de fe´ Friday, mostly owing to obscene overuse, are:

“Exactly” – usually said to indicate your assent either to an opinion offered by a male pal or a very pretty girl you hope to date.

“Not really” – A supine, cowardly way of saying “f**k off!!!”

“Richard Blumenthal” – Attorney General of Connecticut, voted the worst in his class by the American Competitive Institute, one of the few business groups that Blumie, as he is affectionately known in Connecticut, has not sued. The guy is seriously over exposed.

“Obama” – Enough!

“Can I help you?” – No, you cannot.

“Investment” -- when used as a synonym for taxes. Hey, if I choose not to invest in your failing public school system, your in the tank post office, your latest and greatest program to alleviate suffering, your stop the global warming frenzy, and your Byzantine plot to make the world safe for mortgage defaulters, you’ll cart me off to jail for failing to make "investments" in your madcap social programs, …

Surprise, You No Longer Have A Church

Sen. Andrew McDonald, the co-chair along with Rep. Michael Lawlor of the state judiciary committee, has issued an apology of sorts.

In an e-mail, Mr. McDonald writes: "It was never my intent to offend anyone of faith, nor to cast negative attention on the many trustworthy and responsible parish corporations. My only goal was to try my best to represent the concerns of my constituents, some of whom were the victims of fraud. I regret that in my pursuit of their interests, I failed to appreciate and invite into the discussion early on the views of other, equally concerned Catholics."

Let’s go through the apology step by step.

Mr. McDonald says that he received from parishioners at St. John’s church in Darien a proposal that later morphed, pretty much all by itself, into Raised Bill No. 1098.

“In reality,” McDonald wrote in an earlier statement published in the Journal Inquirer, “this bill was proposed and written by a group of faithful Catholic parishioners from Fairfield County …


Of the many groups and individuals who find themselves damaged by the tax hikes changes announced by President Obama, charitable organizations are among the foremost losers. Nevertheless, the activists’ objective is to get the foundations to ignore the intent of their founders and do “social justice.”

Blows are being leveled at the charities. To begin with, tax deductions for contributions are being limited. Formerly (and still, for the moment) contributors to charities could deduct $396 from their income tax for each $1000 contribution. Under Obama’s redistribution plan, contributors will be able to deduct only $280. This limitation will discourage some contributions (one estimate is by 40%) in normal times; and at a time of severely falling stock prices, the impact is likely to make a significant difference to charities’ survival. The restriction on contributions applies to recipients of income of $250,000 (gross?) a year. Small contributors, the “non wealthy,” earning less, ar…

A Report on Religious Liberty From the Belly of the Whale

I attended the Republican inspired informal hearing on Raised Bill 1098 on Thursday, called hastily after McDonald and Lawlor killed the hearing on THEIR bill.

Only a three days notice was allowed before the MacDonald/Lawlor hearing, and the bill was verbally disguised. Only later did legislators discover what was in the bill. By that time roof tiles were raining down on the heads of the judiciary committee members. It’s pretty clear they had hoped to reduce controversy at their hearing. The bill itself, invidiously targeted at Catholics, assumes there is no connection between finances and the mandate of the Catholic Church. Everyone agrees that the bill is unconstitutional.

In follow-up reports, Lawlor and McDonald imputed the content of the bill to some parishioners at St. John’s in Darien. That lie was barely out of their mouths when it began to fall apart. The news reports in the Journal Inquirer showing some parishioners repudiating the bill were splendid.

Who knows what the Cou…

Popes Lawlor and McDonald Kill Bill, Archbishop Blumenthal Assists

The co-chairs of the state's judiciary committee, Andrew McDonald and Michael Lawlor, have killed the hearing during which Raised Bill No. 1098 was to be discussed, leaving behind in their wake a series of questions not yet answered.

There are jarring conflicting reports concerning the writing of Raised Bill No. 1098, which strips bishops and archbishops of their rights under canon law to direct the financial affairs of their parishes.

The Journal Inquirer quoted from a statement written by Lawlor, co-chair of the judiciary committee:

“’In reality, this bill was proposed and written by a group of faithful Catholic parishioners from Fairfield County who asked the Judiciary Committee to consider giving the subject a public hearing,’ the statement continued. ‘Especially considering the fact that one of the large-scale embezzlements which gave rise to this proposal originated from a parish corporation in Darien, a town that Senator McDonald represents, we decided to give these parishione…

The New Know-Nothings: Lawlor, McDonald, Blumenthal

The reaction to Raised Bill No. 1098 has been intense in some quarters, though many commentators in the state, ordinarily quickened by blatant attacks on First Amendment rights, appear to have fallen asleep at their keyboards.

Carl Anderson, the Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic organization based in New Haven, compares the proponents of Raised Bill No. 1098, a piece of legislation that radically undermines the way the Catholic Church is financed, to the No-Nothings of Abraham Lincoln’s day.

The Know-Nothings and Nativists of the time were fiercely anti-Catholic and anti-Negro. The favored means of attacking the Catholic Church in the days of the No-Nothings and Nativists was through “trusteeships,” a plan very much like that now being shepherded through the state’s judiciary committee by co-chairs Andrew McDonald and Michael Lawlor. Not for nothing does historian Arthur Schlesinger remind us that anti-Catholic prejudice is one of the most virulent forms of bigotr…

Impeach Pope Blumenthal, Archbishop Lawlor and Bishop McDonald

Serious questions have been raised concerning the language of Raised Bill 1098. This is a bill that essentially compels a re-formation of Catholic Church authority, which now resides in its bishops, archbishops and the pope, considered to be the head of the Catholic Church.

The bill establishes a church board that would direct the finances of the church and at the same time makes bishops and arch bishops powerless witnesses to the actions of the board.

According to the bill, “The corporation, shall have a board of directors consisting of not less than seven nor more than thirteen lay members. The archbishop or bishop of the diocese or his designee shall serve as an ex-officio member of the board of directors without the right to vote.”

The stated purpose of the bill is “To revise the corporate governance provisions applicable to the Roman Catholic Church and provide for the investigation of the misappropriation of funds by religious corporations.”

The powers of the board, enumerated in t…

Dr. Petit, the Ishmael of Connecticut

“And I alone am left to tell the tale” – Ishmael in Herman Melville’s Moby Dick

According to a news report, the judiciary committee, presided over by chairmen Michael Lawlor in the House and Andrew McDonald in the senate, both lawyers, had been tossing around the question whether the legislature should abolish Connecticut’s death penalty for about eight hours when the proverbial skunk showed up at the garden party.

Connecticut’s chief public defender, Susan Storey, testified that the death penalty was a drain on state resources and did not deter crime. Other speakers came forward and said that capital punishment was immoral.

Co-chairman of the committee Michael Lawlor said earlier in a press interview before the hearing, "No one's going to be executed in Connecticut unless they want to be executed. This is really a fraud of a public policy."

Mr. Lawlor was referring indirectly to the execution of serial killer Michael Ross, whose trial and execution took an inordinately lon…