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Showing posts from May, 2010

PRECAUTIONARY PRINCIPLE, THE CASE AGAINST

In the past 150 years (at least since Marx), the socialists have been very effectively destroying human freedom under humane and compassionate slogans, such as caring for man, ensuring social equality, and fostering social welfare. The environmentalists are doing the same under equally noble-minded slogans, expressing concern about nature more than about people (recall their radical motto “Earth First!”). In both cases, the slogans have been (and still are) just a smokescreen. In both cases, the movements have been (and are) completely about power . . . -- Vaclav Klaus, 2007
“Take no chances.” “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” “Better safe than sorry.” “Look before you leap.” These aphorisms are the common currency of the call for the precautionary principle.

The precautionary principle holds that precautionary action should be taken to avoid irreparable harm to the environment and to human health. Even though scientific proof is lacking that harm has been caused or i…

Jake

Jake is – I will postpone speaking of him in the past tense for a moment– my wife Andree’s Fidelco guide dog. He came into our house fourteen years ago, as a two year old pup, at Christmas.
And never was there such a Christmas. His markings are extraordinary. He is a Shepherd’s Shepherd, beloved of flight stewards, a magnet at the nation’s Capitol in Washington D.C. for young boys and girls obediently trailing a matronly teacher who, wide-eyed, watched her entire class descend on Jake as he moved under the rotunda, the much petted pup of San Francisco who, taking his morning constitutional from our hotel to the green, drew out from doorways and dark corners the lonely souls of the streets, the city’s unsmiling off-scourings, whose faces were transformed at his appearance.

Perhaps they had a boyhood dog. And now here was Jake, a vehicle carrying them back to a time when they knew heaven must be full of dogs. And not just any dogs but their dogs.

Jake transformed everything – first of a…

Eddie, Dick And The Etiquette Of Misspeak

On June 27, 2007, Inspector Michael Sullivan received a report that Mayor Eddie Perez had some work done in his house by a contractor appointed to do a major job for the city of Hartford. The information supplied to him tickled his worry wart, and Sullivan arranged a meeting with Perez the following day.

A record of the meeting was made. Sullivan asked Perez whether people who were doing work for the city also had done work on his house.

Perez answered yes.

Did the mayor pay for the work, and did he receive a cost reduction?

Perez said he paid the market price for the housework done by Carlos Costa in the amount of $20,000 a year and a half earlier. There was no contract involved; the work was done by verbal agreement. Sullivan asked for a copy of Perez’s cancelled check. Perez said he would be happy to furnish a copy of the check. There was no check. Payment on the work – minus a 50% discount, according to the contractor -- was made a year and a half after the work had been completed…

Dump Dick?

Managing Editor of the Journal Inquirer and columnist Chris Powell says the provenance of the story in the New York Time concerning Attorney General Richard Blumenthal’s non-service in Vietnam is unimportant:


“Blumenthal's defenders also argue that the Times' reporting about his misrepresentations is compromised because it originated with information provided by the campaign of a Republican candidate for senator, wrestling entrepreneur Linda McMahon. But of course everyone in public life feeds and tries to spin the press, the attorney general himself most of all -- which may explain some of the excuses being made for him in the press.

“McMahon's campaign and that of her rival for the Republican Senate nomination, former U.S. Rep. Rob Simmons, long have been feeding the press uncomplimentary information about the other, and now that Blumenthal has lost his big lead and no longer can ignore the opposition, his campaign soon will be doing the same to whoever runs closest to h…

Blumenthal Plants A Flag

In addition to being compendiums of facts, news reports are a series of embedded impressions. Some politicians call the practice of leading by impressions "planting the flag."

In the matter of embedding impressions, Attorney General Richard Blumenthal is a rather artful flag planter. As attorney general, Blumenthal has had a good deal of practice, mostly through press releases, of convincing reporters that those people he has targeted for prosecution are guilty of the charges he has brought against them, the reporters being temptingly spurred on by the lurid charges he dangles before them like battle flags.

The reporters who receive these impressionistic press releases generally print them in full and then wait until the litigatory process has been completed, at which point they are certain to receive from Blumenthal yet another summary press release that they obligingly print, usually in full.

But the real story often lies outside the press releases, curled like some fugiti…

Blumenthal Dips in Polls

Since he used (misused?) a Veterans of Foreign War (VFW) hall in West Hartford to answer charges that he falsely claimed to have served in Vietnam, Attorney General Richard Blumenthal has been given a thumbs down by:

1) Rob Simmons, a four year veteran of the war. Mr. Simmons told Politico, “He's not a veteran of foreign wars,” said Simmons, who is a VFW member. “He should not be a member of the VFW, and I find it offensive that he's still wrapping himself in the veteran flag of those of us who served in Vietnam."

2) Vets for Freedom, the largest group of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans:

“After the New York Times exposed his real service record, Mr. Blumenthal remained defiant at his rebuttal press conference, saying he takes ‘full responsibility’ for the statements, yet refuses to apologize,” said Pete Hegseth, an Iraq war veteran and the group’s executive director, in a statement. “Mr. Blumenthal also claims he merely ‘misspoke’ on a few occasions, and did so unknowingly.…

Blumenthal And The Blame Game

A bingo moment occurred in a stinging rebuke to modern journalism written by Richard Hanley, a journalism professor at Quinnipiac, printed in the commentary section of "The Connecticut Mirror":

“The Connecticut press corps did not notice Blumenthal's occasional inconsistencies with his own record as it raced to reproduce news releases trumpeting victories over Big Tobacco and MySpace, among many others, on behalf of Connecticut citizens. To be sure, the dispersed locations of the remark, generally offered during rubber-chicken-and-cold-peas talks around a state with one hundred and sixty nine towns covered less and less by statewide media, made it difficult to detect moments when Blumenthal strayed from his record. Still, the media needed to be as aggressive with Blumenthal as they ordinarily are when covering other elected officials.”
Connecticut’s press has for a long time been drugged on Blumenthal’s press releases, spectacularly failing to exert what some critics of p…

Blumie Takes A hit

Here is Kevin Rennie’s response to a stunning disclosure made by the New York Times, on the front page no less, concerning Attorney General Richard Blumenthal’s non-service in Vietnam:

“Attorney General Richard Blumenthal’s campaign for the United States Senate has been holed below the waterline by a devastating New York Times expose of Blumenthal’s false claims to have served in Vietnam. The piece, fed to the paper by the Linda McMahon Seante campaign, is accompanied by a chilling 2008 video of Blumenthal blithely making the false claim. The ‘brilliant’ Blumenthal provides a stunningly inadequate response, with the universal weasel word ‘misspoken’ appearing in the piece. It’s followed by a non-sequitur quote: ‘My intention has always been to be completely clear and accurate and straightforward, out of respect to the veterans who served in Vietnam,’ he said.”

And the story arrives on the equivalent of today’s breakfast table, a packed e-mail cache, with a video showing the U.S. senat…

Fedele Chooses Boughton As His Running Mate

Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton announced yesterday that he would be running for Lieutenant Governor with Mike Fedele, the present Lieutenant Governor running for governor as a Republican.

The Boughton announcement follows announcements by both Democratic candidates running for governor, former Stamford Mayor Dan Malloy and Ned Lamont, that they had selected running mates for lieutenant governor.

The specs for the job, Boughton declared, will be different should Mike Fedele become governor.

Fedele, Boughton said, had been underutilized in the Rell administration:

"We've made a commitment that we'll never run the lieutenant governor's office like that again. You'll be hearing from me. I'll be vocal, and I'll be Mike's full partner in managing this state. ... The bottom line is this will be much, much more than a ceremonial post. And I think the taxpayers deserve more, for $110,000 [per year in salary], than somebody that cuts ribbons and kisses babies.'…

Dodd’s Bailout Bill

Those who have not read U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd’s regulatory bill need not avoid commenting upon it.

The U.S. Congress has demonstrated it is not necessary to read a bill prior to an up or down vote on it. And Dodd’s bill is long, in excess of a thousand pages. Lately, Congress seems to be interested in writing epics where a poem might do, and the average senator’s eyes glaze over after ten pages.

By way of example, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, whose staff is capable of engorging itself on thousand page bills and spitting out digestible briefing memos, claims not to have read a ten page Arizona bill he disapproved of publicly – very likely because his staff had already worked up a narrative in conflict with the factual substance of the bill.

Holder also implausibly claimed he was not briefed on the Arizona bill. It would have been impossible for the attorney general to denounce a piece of legislation as possibly racist when he knew the legislation did no more than pattern itself a…

Boughton To Primary

The Danbury News Times is reporting that Mayor Mark Boughton of Danbury is preparing to primary Republicans.

Boughton claims to have secured the votes of 15% of the nominating convention delegates, enough to force a primary. He discloses that his goal all along was to qualify for a gubernatorial primary.

The same paper reports that Dick Morris, once a pollster to President Bill Clinton and now a conservative columnist and author, finds nominating conventions abhorrent and needlessly expensive.

"Candidates spend a great deal of time and resources romancing party people who have no connection to the electorate," Morris said.

"It has nothing to do with your ability to win a primary or, for that matter, the general election. It diverts money needed to win an election, and that's a mistake."

Instead, Morris said, candidates should be able to pay a $5 fee to get on a primary ballot.

"Give anyone who wants to run access to the ballot and let them fight it out,&…

DESELECTION, WAY TO IMPROVE STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT

In 1983, we were warned that we were “A Nation at Risk. Our once unchallenged preeminence in commerce, industry, science, and technological innovation is being overtaken by competitors throughout the world.”

When the Governors met in 1989, they resolved that they would combat the “rising tide of mediocrity” by our being first internationally in math and science by 2000. Many ways to improve student learning have been tried: smaller class size, smaller pupil-teacher ratios, increased teacher experience, increased teacher graduate degrees, and programs galore. Nothing has worked. “What was unimaginable a generation ago, has begun to occur—others are matching and surpassing our educational attainments,” the Governors were warned.

Since the Governors’ 1989 conference, the focus has been on improving teacher effectiveness as the “only viable way to accomplish the governors’ goals.

But how? Teacher hiring and retraining have not worked, in that they have not improved student achievement.…

McMahon Hits Blumenthal In Radio Ad

Politico reports that U.S. senatorial hopeful Linda McMahon is launching a radio spot against Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, the likely Democratic nominee vying for U.S. Senator Chris Dodd’s seat.

“The spot features a man and woman discussing Blumenthal's decision to accept money from political action committees for his Senate campaign. Says the man: ‘Dick Blumenthal, the guy that rejected all special interest money and said he’s never taken PAC money, is now taking special interest PAC money. Over $200,000 of it already.’ The woman replies: ‘You know, every day Dick Blumenthal sounds more and more like a career politician.’ The narrator jumps in: ‘Dick Blumenthal must think Washington can never have enough career politicians that say one thing then do another.’ And scene.Blumenthal, the perennial favorite among Democrats for governor or U.S. senator for nearly as long as he has been attorney general, surprised no one when he leapt into the breech soon to be left vacant by Do…

Lady Bysiewicz’s Ambition

It has been rumored that Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz, very likely the Democratic nominee for attorney general, really has her eyes on a different prize. Some say she would treat the attorney general office as a jumping off place for a senatorial run against Sen. Joe Lieberman at the expiration of his term.

In the video clip below, Bysiewicz is given ample opportunity to answer this charge by a patient reporter who asks her three times whether she intends to serve out her term as attorney general, should the citizens of the state vote her into office.

Her answer is here:



Consider the lot of the poor reporter. He is given an assignment by his editor:

“Listen up here. Bysiewicz has a presser today. I’ve prepared a question for you, crisp and unambiguous. This is it: Will you serve out your term as attorney general, assuming you win the post? That’s it. We need an answer by deadline for tomorrow’s run. We need a “Yes” or “No” answer. Go get’er.”

The reporter sets out with trembling…

This is a hold-up, Governor – Your money or your judges!

Better a little late than never: In one of it stinging editorials, The Hartford Courant has noticed that Judiciary co-chairmen Rep. Michael Lawlor, and Sen. Andrew McDonald had, with an assist from bandito President Pro Tem of the Senate Don Williams held up the state’s coach, driven by outgoing Gov. Jodi Rell.

“Court funding in exchange for judgeships. That was the condition leaders of the General Assembly's Judiciary Committee set for Gov. M. Jodi Rell.

“She accepted.

“Then the ante went up: The $19.1 billion state budget for those judgeships.

“She accepted again.”

The hold-up was “disappointing and infuriating,” the paper noted.

The paper did not mention the name of stage coach robber Williams in its editorial.

Blumenthal And The Gentle Art Of Selective Prosecution

"Here we are 90 days later, and Dick Blumenthal has issued 64 press releases but still no answer on Susan Bysiewicz's intelligence files. Three months is more than enough time to find out whether Bysiewicz illegally used state resources for political purposes. … He's got 200 lawyers over there, and he can't get to the bottom of this very serious allegation?"So said Republican Party Chairman Chris Healy concerning Attorney General Richard Blumenthal’s slow boil investigation of Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz.

When it was revealed that Bysiewicz may have lacked the requisite experience to run for Blumenthal’s position as attorney general, the attorney general punted the problem to the Superior Court Judge Michael Sheldon, who promised – and delivered -- an expedited decision.

The question concerning possible misuse of a data base assembled by Bysiewicz’s office arose at the same time. The problematic data base containing 36,000 names, the existence of which bec…

The Budget Reviews Are In

Courant: Bad Deal

The Hartford Courant turned up its collective nose at Connecticut’s budget, a compromise deal hammered out between the dominant veto proof Democratic legislature and Gov. Jodi Rell, a lame duck Republican.

Once the state’s tax and spend plan had been inked, Democratic legislative leaders labeled it a “bi-partisan” budget, seemingly unaware that one robin doth not a summer make. The Republicans, minus Rell, firmly denounced the budget for all the right reasons and then took a very visible hike.

The short legislative session was “a big letdown,” said the Courant:

“The pact, however, avoids most of the tough choices that would put the state on sounder financial footing as it braces for a budget shortfall projected at $3.8 billion in fiscal 2012, which starts in just 14 months.

“The budget agreement reached this week would cover half the fiscal 2011 deficit with federal stimulus funds — which won't be there this time next year.

“The state would also raid funds for ener…

Are We France Or Greece?

A little of both, according to the indispensable Waterbury Republican American:

“With the 2010 legislative session mercifully over, Connecticut finds itself looking much more like Europe. On the budget, it resembles Greece, which is teetering on insolvency because of the effects of socialism, unionism, environmentalism, cronyism and other isms. Faced with record deficits for years to come, your Democratic legislative supermajority and Gov. M. Jodi Rell did what they have done for three years running: kicked the can down the road.”

What the Tea Party Movement Needs To Know

By Sean Murphy

The Tea Party Movement is an anomaly in politics. There have been two major political movements in the past thirty years: President Reagan’s and the Contract with America in 1994, both of which started within the political structure of the Republican Party. This is significant for those who want real change from the Republican Party.

The problem within the Republican Party is the intentions of many within the establishment. While the majority of the country is right of center (anywhere from 55 to 60%, depending on the poll questions), the interests of the political elite do not correlate with the figures. The primary job of party chairmen is to see that Republicans are elected; they are not necessarily interested in advancing a conservative agenda.

In order to align the Republican Party with the values of the nation, those who wish to do so must understand how to win within the system. This issue has not come up because past conservative movements have started within …

Weicker At UConn Law

Ex-Governor and Senator Lowell Weicker appeared at the UConn Law School and gave a talk that touched on a number of subjects: health care, beltway manners, and bill paying averse legislators at the state capitol among them.

Weicker on his reluctance to run for governor, as reported by Jeff Cohen of WNPR: "Somebody asked me, when I came on campus, wouldn't you like to be governor....Helloooo????"

This as our tax belabored state is poised to celebrate the upcoming 20th anniversary of the Axe The Tax rally in Hartford. It seems like only yesterday, except for the many UConn students too young to have a personal memory of the event.



All the spirits that hovered around Weicker on that grand day are very much in the air we breathe. Joe Markley -- who, along with Tom Scott, was responsible for the anti-tax rally in Hartford – is once again running for his old seat in the state senate, and he has a righteous wind at his back.

The Weicker tax, as it was designed to do, made life …

Judge Gives Bysiewicz The Green Light

Superior Court Judge Michael Sheldon has taken the monkey off Secretary State Susan Bysiewicz’ back.

In a 93-page ruling, the judge found:

“On the basis of the foregoing findings of fact and conclusions of law, the Court hereby finds, and thus enters judgment in this action to declare, that the plaintiff, as a Connecticut attorney-at-law since 1986 who performed the above-described duties of her office as Connecticut's Secretary of the State since 1999, has engaged in active practice at the bar of this state, within the meaning of General Statutes § 3-124, for at least ten years."Given the finding he made, judge Sheldon ruled it was not necessary to address the constitutionality of the statute requiring 10 years active service as a lawyer as a prerequisite for office of attorney general. The state constitution lists only an age requirement to attain the office, which would seem to conflict with the statute requiring 10 years active service as a lawyer.

As a default position, B…

Abandon All Hope Ye Who Enter Here

All budgets are plans for the future. The budget worked out between Gov. Jodi Rell and the leaders of the dominant Democratic Party in Connecticut’s state legislature, principally Speaker of the House Chris Donovan and President Pro Tem of the Senate Don Williams, will go to press a little more than two weeks before the Democratic and Republican nominating conventions to be held in Hartford on May 21-22.

There are no surprises in the budget, which patterns, with almost ridged precision, the template of past budgets in which gapping holes were filled with chewing gum and hopeful views of the future.

Democrats, heedless of the warning signs everywhere apparent, are convinced that a rising tide will in the near future lift all the boats, Connecticut’s little bark among them. Collectively, the Democratic legislative caucus is Pangloss, drawing hope from the future rather than the past.

Pangloss was a character developed by Voltaire in Candide who, despite the horrors inflicted upon him …

Blumenthal Closes NEP Case: Questions Remain Open

Three press accounts appeared over the weekend that had Attorney General Richard Blumenthal as their subject, two in the Journal Inquirer by reporter Alex Wood, and one in the Hartford Courant by Kevin Rennie, a political columnist.

One of the Journal Inquirer’s stories by Wood (available through subscription) is likely to generate some interest because it includes what may be called, loosely speaking, a rebuttal to a press release issued by Mr. Blumenthal following the “settlement” of a case against New England Pellet. The rebutter is Jim Oliver, the lawyer for New England Pellet.

The story involves an objection by Mr. Blumenthal to an assertion by Mr. Oliver that Mr. Blumenthal’s inspector, Patrick Ahlquist, used a defective affidavit in the case and later offered perjured testimony in a deposition.

The charge by Mr. Oliver that Mr. Ahlquist perjured himself in a sworn deposition has yet to be put before a judge. Such being the case, it is partly true, as Mr. Blumenthal asserts in …