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Showing posts from August, 2009


One day, obesity is boring. Next day, obesity is alarming. What did it?

A 115-paged monograph from the American Council of Science, an organization of scientists who speak to laymen on health and science. It has done much useful work in pesticides and many other issues. Elizabeth M. Whelan, Sc.D., its head, established her reputation years ago with her brilliant book, Toxic Terror.

The monograph contains 17 short readable chapters, each for a different system of diseases, and each followed by footnotes supporting the statements, with full citations to studies, for anyone who wants to see for himself. The monograph is written by Kathleen Meister, M.S., and edited by Ruth Kava, Ph.D. , Gilbert L. Ross, M.D., and Elizabeth Whelan. Each chapter is reviewed by a specialist in the field.

Do you have a friend who has a huge lump on her leg? It is related to diabetes which is related to obesity. Two-thirds of the population of the U.S. is overweight or obese.

Obesity shortens life by 6-7 years. C…

Edward Kennedy’s Mole

Most moralists would have no difficulty with the notion that good people have a flip side; they are sometimes bad. The trick in judging them morally, which ought to be done rarely and with great circumspection, is not to slide into a kind of moral Manichaeism in which you end up saying that the good side of a man redeems the bad side.

It does not.

St. Augustine, who was very bad before his mother drew him into Christianity, may serve as a model. He flew from his sins without having make the mistake of believing that his meritorious works in some sense cancelled the sins.

It took sometime after the late former Sen. Edward Kennedy died for people to get around to noticing that he was, in fashionable parlance, “complex,” which is to say he was riven, as most men are, by sin. Or, if agnostic and atheistic readers prefer a less religiously freighted expression, we might say Kennedy was the victim of “human failings.”

Some of Kennedy’s human failings were monstrous. Kevin Rennie, a Hartford…

Chavez Tightens The Noose

Following in Iran’s footsteps, Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez, has now made it a crime to protest his oppressions, according to a story in Breitbart.

Jepsen Turns A Corner

George Jepsen, a Hartford lawyer, was a state senate Majority Leader and the former chairman of Connecticut’s state Democratic Party.

This is what he has to say in the Hartford Courant about the so called millionaires’ tax:

“The so-called millionaires' tax exacerbates what economists agree is a major defect of our current revenue structure — over-reliance on a narrow, affluent population — which leaves the state's finances highly vulnerable to economic volatility, especially on Wall Street. It also codifies the class warfare ethos of the Democrats (mitigated somewhat by the governor's proposed elimination of the estate tax). This rhetoric gives the wealthy one more reason to shift residency to tax-friendly states, as so many already have, taking their income, local purchases, job creation and philanthropy with them.”The two or three people in the state who have kept up with this blog might agree that Mr. Jepsen's view is a pretty spare and neat encapsulation of everythin…

Imitation vs Plagiarism

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, what is plagiarism?

Theft, say some editors and bloggers who have noted that the Hartford Courant has lifted some stories from other papers with and sometimes without attribution. In some cases stories have been attributed to source newspapers and then appear later minus the attribution under the byline of Courant staff.

Some of the resulting furor may be found in the commentary section of a post written by Courant columnist Rick Green.

Doug Hardy, an associate editor at the Journal Inquirer, comments:

"If you search the Courant's site for "Journal Inquirer" or "Bristol Press" or several others, you'll pull up a listing of numerous stories from numerous towns where our work has been systematically copied and pasted, occasionally with minor alterations and a smattering of additional attribution from the publication. The full story is being used - not just the headline and/or first sentence and a link back to o…

The “Framework” And The Need For Quotes

A day after Republican Gov. Jodi Rell caved in on Democratic demands for an increase in the so called “millionaire tax,” her “breakthrough” was touted by Democratic leaders as providing a “framework” for a future budget “deal.”

Some in the media are calling the cave-in “a sharp reversal.”

Isn’t it nice to know that Orwellian wordsmiths are still with us, long after Orwell wended his way to heaven on angel’s wings?

No doubt the Democrats will want to erect their own house on the “framework” provided by Rell.

No modest cape for them. Progressive tax rates will permit a more lavish life style for tax consumers and tax gatherers. In as much as the deficit now can be liquidated by tax hikes on a minority class rather than by spending cuts, tax consumers and gatherers needn’t be quite as watchful in their future consumption and spending habits. Now that Rell has caved on the matter of a progressive income tax, Connecticut’s new tax system can always be adjusted upwards, so as to spare state and…

Rell To Republicans: Go Fish

It took while for the lady to collapse.

First Gov. Jodi Rell, who had stuck to her no-tax-increase guns long after the fiscal year ended, proposed a tax increase of half a billion dollars to discharge a deficit of about $2 billion. Waiting in the wings is a much larger deficit of $9 billion. Leading Democrats in the legislature were steadfast in a) refusing to submit any budget and b) insisting upon minimal spending cuts and maximum tax increases.

At the tail end of August, Democrats, after futile private negotiations with the governor, announced that they were preparing to submit their own budget to the legislature.

Senate President Pro Tem Donald Williams, said, "We're revising our proposal.''

Speaker of the House Chris Donovan said, “We are preparing a budget.''

According to one report, “Donovan said the Democrats will be reducing the amount of the increase in the state income tax, but he declined to reveal the potential rates or the income thresholds that woul…

Republican Party Ditched By Governor

The Harford Courant is reporting that Gov. Rell has reversed her stance on the budget from February: “… Rell would raise the state income tax to 6.5 percent on couples earning more than $1 million per year and individuals earning more than $500,000 per year. The current maximum rate is 5 percent.”

The tax increase, retroactive to Jan. 1,2009, is expected to hall in more than $1 billion in the next two years. In addition, the sales tax would be cut a half a percent to 5.5 percent.

Pointing to a survey, Rell expects the cut in the sales tax to produce 8,300 jobs.

There is no indication at present that the Democrats, who have promised to produce their own budget, will agree to any of these terms. What the new plan really does is to cut no-tax-increase Republicans out of the negotiation loop.

Democrats Produce A Budget

On Thursday, state Democratic legislators will be presenting in the legislature their first non-fictional budget since the fiscal year closed weeks ago.

Senate President Pro Tem Donald Williams, said, "We're revising our proposal.''

And Speaker of the House Chris Donovan said, “"We are preparing a budget.''

According to one report, “Donovan said the Democrats will be reducing the amount of the increase in the state income tax, but he declined to reveal the potential rates or the income thresholds that would be affected. The new plan will offer lower taxes and more spending cuts than the most recent Democratic plan.”

Apparently, the two worthies were not asked by reporters why they could not submit their “revised plan” before the fiscal year ended. Why disturb the universe?

Time, says the poet T.S. Elliot, there will be time “for visions and revisions that time will soon erase.

Kennedy Dies

The United States, and especially American politicians, is best and most accurately seen from afar.

The Guardian’s report on the late Sen. Edward Kennedy’s political career is what the Brits might call “spot on.,” so far the finest-- by which I mean the most accurate and unsentimental -- review of Edward Kennedy's trip to the top of the political greasy poll.

All the warts and angel wings are here.

Diplomacy in Iran Fails: Back To Bush

President Barack Obama’s Iran policy now has run aground on rocky reality.

A New York magazine has taken a poke at what is left of President Barack Obama’s Iran policy:

“Barack Obama took office with a bold promise of “an extended hand” to Iran. But then came the fraudulent Iranian election and its brutal aftermath, circumstances that made Obama’s challenge more difficult. Obama may now understandably have no appetite for talking to such a patently diabolical regime. (“Told ya!,” cry the Bushies.)”
“Come September, Obama has said, ‘We will re-evaluate Iran’s posture’ toward negotiations.”

Posture eh?

"And even if Obama is still willing to talk, Tehran may be too internally divided to serve as a reliable negotiating partner. That’s why White House officials are all but resigned to the futility of direct diplomacy. Former State Department official Nicholas Burns, perhaps the Bush foreign team’s most dovish voice on Iran, predicts that ‘even if negotiations are held this autumn, they wil…

Down, Down, Down

"The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Sunday shows that 27% of the nation's voters Strongly Approve of the way that Barack Obama is performing his role as President. Forty-one percent (41%) Strongly Disapprove giving Obama a Presidential Approval Index rating of -14. These figures mark the lowest Approval Index rating yet recorded for this President. The previous low of -12 was reached on July 30 (see trends)."

Rell And The Democrats: The Rough-up Didn’t Work

After bipartisan budget talks broke down, Rell summoned three reporters to her office before whom she displayed her "frustration."

A story in one paper notes:

"The bipartisan budget talks began in late June, even before the last fiscal year ended on June 30. Recently, five days of negotiations led to only $9 million in cuts each year in a state budget of more than $18 billion a year, Rell said.

“The biggest sticking point is that the Democrats want to raise taxes and fees by $1.8 billion, which Rell has strongly rejected. She has countered with a package that would raise taxes and fees by more than $500 million, including pushing the state's cigarette tax to $3 per pack, up from the current $2 per pack.”
Five days of negotiations have produced $9 million in cuts. The expression “an elephant giving birth to a mouse” comes to mind.

The Democratic grand design, apparently, was to run out the clock on the fiscal year, move negotiations from the public square to private neg…

The Gubernatorial Legislative Budget Standoff

Most media outlets in Connecticut have called for a speedy resolution of budget negotiations now being held in camera by the governor, a few Republicans and leaders of the Democratic controlled legislature.

The problem here is that all these so called budget “negotiations” are being held behind closed doors, out of view of the public. So, one must accept at their word conflicting reports of the discussions.

Naturally, there are two widely divergent accounts of the secret meetings.

Here’s what we know: Rell and the Republicans are heavily outnumbered. The Democrats could, if they wished, pass their own preferred budget over Rell’s objections. Indeed, she has challenged them to do just this. It is possible they declined for politically expedient reasons: It was not in their long term interest to present a bill during the regular session in public square.

In the past, Republican governors and the thimble full of Republicans in the legislature have shown themselves to be amenable to pressure …

Where Have All The Netroots Gone, Long Time Passing?

Stanley Greenberg, the husband of U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro and a notable pollster, presented respondents at the Netroots Nation
conference with a list of policy priorities, and asked, according to a report in the Washington Examiner, “’Please indicate which two you think progressive activists should be focusing their attention and efforts on the most.’ The winner was passing comprehensive health care reform, with 60 percent, and number two was passing ‘green energy policies that address environmental concerns,’ with 22 percent. Tied for eighth place, named by just eight percent of respondents, was ‘working to end our military involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan.’”

A veteran of a few Netroot Nation conferences, chief political correspondent of the Washington Examiner Byron York thinks that war has pretty much dropped of the usually militantly anti-war netroot radar screen.

And Greenberg’s poll seems to confirm York’s suspicion:

“Then Greenberg asked which one of those issues ‘do you, per…


Economist Arthur Laffer in a beautiful column in the August 5 Wall Street Journal tells why, though we need improvement, we don’t need health-care reform.

Laffer starts off with the proposition that people like their health care; 70% of them are satisfied with it. Pollster Scott Rasmussen writes that in early August, 68% of American voters rated their insurance as “good or excellent,” with 74% rating the quality of their health care as good or excellent, and 50% believing that if ObamaCare becomes law, the quality of health care will decline (WSJ August 7).

Polling last February, Rasmussen found that by 2 to 1, no matter how bad things are, Congress can always make them worse. Then why not give up the idea of reforming health care and just repair it? Some 55% think it could be improved.

The problem is not quality but cost, which is so high that it certainly means higher taxes, probably inflation, and conceivably even bankruptcy. Medicare has unfunded obligations amounting to $36 …

A Notice From The Courant

From: "Savastra, Andrea"
Sent: Tuesday, August 18, 2009 2:34:28 PM
Subject: Hartford Courant Statement On George Gombossy Matter

We read your recent postings in regard to George Gombossy and are forwarding an official company statement in response. Thank you.

Company Statement:

The overriding consideration on stories reported by the Hartford Courant is making sure the facts are thoroughly checked out and correct. Our advertisers have no influence on what we report, including stories that may include them. This is a long time Courant policy.

Our readers and advertisers do and should expect us to report stories we know are accurate and fully reported. George Gombossy’s story needs and is receiving additional checking and verification. This is a common practice required by our editors with all Courant news stories, including columns by Mr. Gombossy, and while employed with the Courant, he was well aware of this and accepted and followed this policy ov…

Gombossy Fired?

The New York Times has the most complete report on the contretemps between the Hartford Courant and George Gombossy, whose position at the Courant has been eliminated.

Gombossy, an employee at the Courant for 40 years, 3 as a consumer protection watchdog, insists he was let go because he had written a column critical of Sleepys, a mattress company that is a prime Courant advertiser.

The paper insists that Gombossy’s job was eliminated as a result of the paper’s reorganization involving Fox News. Gombosy has detailed his version of the events on his own blogsite “Connecticut Watchdog.”

Schiff, the Libertarian

The last collection of Bill Buckley’s columns, “Happy Days Were Here Again” (note the past tense), is subtitled “Reflections of a Libertarian Journalist.”

The book is about pretty much everything that interested Buckley, which is to say – it’s about everything.

But the subtitle is telling: “a libertarian journalist?”

Who knew?

Libertarianism has gotten a bad rap because it has been purposely, maliciously misunderstood, usually by pettifogging statists, the sort of people who believe that that the bread one earns by the sweat of one’s brow would be ever so much more tasty and nutritious if it fell to humankind like manna from heaven; or, better still, if it were first collected by demagogues in Washington DC and then parceled out to us, with a sizable bite taken by altruistic congresspersons, presidents and supreme court justices.

The libertarian is the guy who thinks most of the bread should remain with the brow that sweats, which is not to say that the poor should be fed from crumbs…

Ousted Honduran President Robs Bank, Paper reports

The Washington Times is reporting that “Honduran officials are investigating allegations that President Manuel Zelaya and his chief of staff stole millions of dollars from the central bank before the military ousted Mr. Zelaya last month, according to a senior Honduran official, government documents and other evidence.”

The report include a bank security video showing officials of the ousted Zelaya administration “entering the bank June 24 and withdrawing large amounts of Honduran currency.”

The money, about $2.2 million was taken, “was driven to the office of Mr. Zelaya's chief of staff, Enrique Flores Lanza, according to depositions by three witnesses to Honduran prosecutors.”

It is thought that Zelaya intended to use the cash in connection with an unconstitutional referendum that, had it been successful, would have allowed Zelaya to serve a second term as president. Honduras’ constitution limits presidents to a single term.

The ousted Zelaya government is represented in the Hondur…

Caligiuri in Coventry

Sam Caligiuri, a second term state senator representing Connecticut’s 16th district – Southington, Wolcott, parts of Cheshire and Waterbury -- announced his run against U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd early in April, and in mid-August Caligiuri turned up at Coventry Town Hall to address the Republican Town Committee.

Caligiuri is the deputy minority leader of the Senate Republican Caucus and serves on five legislative committees. He is the ranking member on both the Elementary and Secondary Education Committee and the Insurance and Real Estate Committee.

In 2007, he earned the distinction of being the only state senator of either party to vote against the state budget, a matter of principle, according to Caligiuri. The budget exceeded the state’s spending cap and would lead, Caligiuri predicted, to insupportable state deficits.

The legislatures’ penchant for spending surpluses, its leftward drift, the country’s collapsing national economy, and political inattentiveness to the signs of the times all…

The Democratic Dip

First, the Rassmussen presidential poll. This is called a trend line:

News on the state front is no better. Arlen Specter, who changes political parties the way many people change socks, is also taking a whipping:

Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter is feeling the heat of the health care debate. He now trails Republican Pat Toomey by double digits in an early look at the potential 2010 race. Two months ago, Specter led by double digits. Most Pennsylvania voters oppose the Congressional health care reform effort. Also, Specter’s lead is shrinking in his Democratic Primary match-up with Congressman Joe Sestak.
The Democratic Health Care Plan is out of favor:

Public support for the health care reform plan proposed by President Obama and congressional Democrats has fallen to a new low as just 42% of U.S. voters now favor the plan. That’s down five points from two weeks ago and down eight points from six weeks ago.
And in state races the polls show that the time for change may be at hand.

From the Horse’s Mouth: Selections from Science Czar and Neo-Malthusian John Holdern

With minimal editing, here are some choice selections from the oeuvre of John Holdern, President Barack Obama’s science czar, courtesy of Matt Barber.

Mr. Holdern is a Harvard professor and a self styled “neo-Malthusian.

On the regulation of population growth: “There exists ample authority under which population growth could be regulated. It has been concluded that compulsory population-control laws, even including laws requiring compulsory abortion, could be sustained under the existing Constitution if the population crisis became sufficiently severe to endanger the society.”

On adding sterilants to drinking water: "[a]dding a sterilant to drinking water or staple foods is a suggestion that seems to horrify people more than most proposals for involuntary fertility control," such an approach would have to "meet some rather stiff requirements; uniformly effective; of dangerous or unpleasant side effects;" and pass both PETA and AARP muster by having "…

Lamont And The Buck; It Doesn’t Stop Anywhere

Ned Lamont -- the Greenwich millionaire who with an assist from former governor and senator Lowell Weicker, the father of Connecticut’s income tax, Bill Cibes, the godfather of Connecticut’s income tax, and Tom D’Amore, for many years Weicker’s top aide, ran and won a primary against Sen. Joe Lieberman but lost the general election -- has now resurfaced with the three above mentioned gentlemen in tow.

Mr. Lamont has launched a broadside against Governor Jodi Rell on a popular blog site called Connecticut Local Politics.

Gov. Rell presently is in camera with Democratic budget leaders. The governor and Democratic legislative leaders are desperately trying to come up with a budget that a) does not sink the good ship Connecticut with yet more burdensome taxes and regulations, and b) is acceptable to state workers and union leaders, the state’s permanent shadow government.

These two goals may be irreconcilable, but that is not the point of Mr. Lamont's most recent broadside, perhaps a…

The Revolution And Toilet Paper

The sons and daughters of the revolution are running out of toilet paper in Cuba, according to a Reuters report.

“Cuba's financial reserves have been depleted by increased spending for imports and reduced export income, which has forced the communist-led government to take extraordinary measures to keep the economy afloat.

"’The corporation has taken all the steps so that at the end of the year there will be an important importation of toilet paper,’ an official with state conglomerate Cimex said on state-run Radio Rebelde.

“The shipment will enable the state-run company ‘to supply this demand that today is presenting problems,’ he said.”

Why, it may be asked, don’t the sons and daughters of the revolution make their own toilet paper, thus lowering the price that Cubans pay for more expensive imports?

Cash poor Cuba, under the enlightened administration of the Castro brothers, does make some toilet paper. However, it does not have the cash to purchase the raw material to produce t…

Is Nothing Sacred?

The as yet unnamed 23 year old Greek woman is almost certain to be regarded as a heroine when she returns home to the island of Crete.

Fondled by a drunken Briton who had quite literally let his pants down, the woman poured her drink, a Sabucco, on the offender’s genitals and, when he bounder did not desist, set fire to his manly parts with her cigarette lighter.

The woman immediately turned herself into authorities, while the gent was taken to a hospital.

The TelegraphCoUK has all the salacious details.

‘Police said that the incident took place at a club in the Greek resort town of Malia. The British man, who police have also not yet identified, allegedly took off his pants there and waved his genitals at a number girls. He is then said to have ‘forcefully fondled’ the Greek woman and asked her to hold his genitals.”
The lessons here seem to be obvious: Be polite when drunk; read Euripides’ Medea before going on Greek vacations; and don’t mess with Cretan women.

Non-coincidentally, “Squeak…

Sen. McCaskill Meets Her Constituents

On July 27, a representative from Sen. Claire McCaskill office appeared at a town meeting in St. Louis Missouri. Her intention was to listen closely to the concerns McCaskill’s constituents were having with President Barrack Obama’s Health Care bill and report back to her.

McCaskill is the former prosecutor and state auditor that came to Obama’s aid following his defeat of then Sen. Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary that led eventually to his capture of the White House. She was considered Obama’s top surrogate during the campaign, offering guidance on possible vice presidential candidates, and her name surfaced as a possible running mate.

She got an earful.

Here is a sampling of what a town meeting should be.

And here the estimable Tim Bishop, U.S. Rep. from New York's 1st District, meets his constituents:

Rennie To Rell: Y’er Out

Hartford Courant columnist Kevin Rennie thinks Gov. Jodi Rell lost the ballgame when she agreed to raise taxes: “When Rell proposed $391 million in tax increases on Thursday, she upended her ability to negotiate effectively with Democrats, who sound chillingly gleeful at the prospect of making Connecticut a more difficult place to be productive. Rell's declaration that she can't find any more spending cuts sets a ceiling on those. Then she established what will likely be the floor on tax increases with her proposal.”

Democrats, owing to their majority in both state houses, can easily raise the roof, and the floor too; give'em an inch and they'll take your back yard.

This is typical Republican gubernatorial strategy.

Rennie writes from the belly of the whale. The Harford Courant, in a recent editorial excoriates the governor for not having proposed tax increases earlier. The budget “crisis” might have been resolved “weeks ago if Gov. M. Jodi Rell had only admitted that tax…

After The Spending Comes the Taxing

ABC news Chief Washington Correspondent and "This Week" Host George Stephanopoulos
says that tax scofflaw Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner may be contemplating increasing income taxes on the Middle Class: “To get the economy back on track, will President Barack Obama have to break his pledge not to raise taxes on 95 percent of Americans? In a ‘This Week’ exclusive, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner told me, ‘We’re going to have to do what’s necessary.’”

Big surprise there.