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Showing posts from September, 2013

Connecticut, The One Party State Of Secrecy And The Cloud Of Unknowing

Danbury State Attorney Stephen Sedensky, the keeper of the Sandy Hook secrets, has so far had a fairly easy time of it, but disquieting murmurs rend the air. The Associated Press (AP) last July petitioned Connecticut’s Freedom of Information Commission (FOIC) to order the release of 911 tapes made during the mass shooting of schoolchildren at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown. The commission found – surprise! – that such information could not be withheld from the public merely because Mr. Sedensky asserted a criminal investigation was ongoing .

Foley Charges Partly Vindicated By Critic

There will be time, there will be time To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet; There will be time to murder and create, And time for all the works and days of hands That lift and drop a question on your plate; Time for you and time for me, And time yet for a hundred indecisions, And for a hundred visions and revisions, Before the taking of a toast and tea -- T.S. Elliot Kevin Rennie, a Harford Courant columnist, is regarded by some in politics as the Torquemada of Connecticut commentators – especially in matters of what one might call political ethics. Many politicians have felt his bite and winced.

Malloy, Cuomo, No Mussolinis

S’matter with the governors of New York and Connecticut? Even Benito Mussolini was able to make the trains run on time. Neil Vigdor of the Greenwich Times reports :  They [Malloy and the Malloyalists] were told it could take until Oct. 14 to restore full power to the nation's busiest commuter line, which was crippled Wednesday when a backup feeder line supplying electricity to overhead catenary wires failed in Mt. Vernon, N.Y. The railroad is currently in the process of modernizing a substation that normally supplies trains with power…

Skully Communications For Harp

Like wealthy one per-centers who spend part of the season in foreign parts, Mr. Scully's home is with Scully Communications .  During the political season, some punitively nonpartisan owners of public relation firms wander into political campaigns, at which point the mask of political impartiality is momentarily discarded. The New Haven Register reports:

Blumenthal’s Snippit

U.S. Senator Dick Blumenthal’s awkward false claim, made or intimated several times , that he had served as a marine in Vietnam rose out of the newspaper morgues recently after former New York Times political writer Ray Hernandez joined a Washington D.C. PR firm. The story in the Hartford Courant, “ NY Times Reporter Who Was Fed Blumenthal Vietnam Scoop Will Join DC Firm Led By One Time McMahon Adviser ”, actually is a story about a story, a story twice removed.

On Reading Simone Weil and Flannery O’Connor

It’s shear happenstance that Andrée is reading a biography of Flannery O’Connor on “talking books” just as I had finished reading to her a short biography on Simone Weil . Following the Weil biography, I picked up a book called the Simone Weil Reader , a collection of her major writings. Both writers were afflicted, O’Connor with lupus and Weil with an eating disorder. Camus says of Weil that she refused during the Second World War to take more nourishment than was available to troops in the war theatre and so starved herself. This was partly true; Weil had suffered for years from anorexia.

Foley On Foley

Two appearances by Republican Party gubernatorial hopeful Tom Foley, one on WFSB’s “Face the State” and another on NPR’s “Where We Live” program, have produced a raft of hearty criticism from Connecticut’s left of center media. The most interesting Foley response was a letter written to the Hartford Courant .  Mr. Foley made two points in his letter: 1) Three of the four charges he made in his “Face The State” appearance were true, and the fourth has yet to be denied unequivocally by Governor Dannel Malloy; 2) The people of Connecticut rightfully expect their politicians to be free of even the appearance of corruption, a point repeated ad nauseam in thousands of political reports and editorials.

Roll Your Own Taxpayer

The Chris Donovan, “Roll Your Own” scandal is being judicially tucked to bed now that some principals in the scandal have been sentenced.  Most recently, Joshua Nassi, former state House Speaker Chris Donovan’s campaign manager, was sentenced to 28 months in federal prison by U.S. District Judge Janet Bond Arterton. Mr. Donovan was running for the U.S. House in Connecticut’s 5 th  District when his campaign was rudely interrupted by FBI wired singing canaries, prominent among them former corrections union official Ray Soucy, a character who might have done well for himself during the good old days of Tammany Hall and George Washington Plunkitt, the Tammany Hall boss who always was careful to make a sharp distinction between honest and dishonest graft.

Connecticut’s US Congressional Delegation And The Tea Party

Connecticut’s U.S. Congressional Delegation, the chorus of crying Democrats, is running out of active enemies. There are no longer any Republicans aboard; haven’t been since the last moderate Republican in New England, Chris Shays, fell to a young, seemingly moderate Democrat, present 4 th  District U.S. Representative Jim Himes. In the past 15 years, no fewer than 3 moderate U.S. Congressional Republicans in Connecticut have been displaced by Democrats. U.S. Representative Nancy Johnson was displaced by former U.S. Representative Chris Murphy. Mr. Murphy is now a progressive U.S. Senator. U.S. Representative Rob Simmons fell to Democrat Joe Courtney.

McKinney’s Finest Hour

Finest hours in the lives of politicians are so rare that they ought to be celebrated as often as possible,  pretty much in the way John Adams said the country should celebrate its founding: "The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.’’ More often than not, the scribes sleep and snooze through legislative hearings on technically complex issues.

Foley’s Charges

Here is an accurate transcript of a conversation between Dennis House of Face the State and former Ambassador to Ireland Tom Foley . Mr. Foley hopes to secure the Republican Party’s nomination for governor. Neither Mr. Foley nor Governor Dannel Malloy has as yet formally announced their respective bids for the governor’s office. A great deal of commentary – most of it critical of Mr. Foley’s comments -- already has preceded the posting of a transcript. But it’s always a good idea to put first things first: First the transcript, then the commentary:

The Syrian Deal

The Washington Post  reports: “The United States and Russia agreed Saturday on an outline for the identification and seizure of Syrian chemical weapons and said Syria must turn over an accounting of its arsenal within a week. “The agreement will be backed by a U.N. Security Council resolution that could allow for sanctions or other consequences if Syria fails to comply, Secretary of State John F. Kerry said.” The speed with which all this is happening – and that as a result of a serendipitous statement that fell unbidden from the lips of Secretary of State John Kerry – is a little too unbelievable to be believed. One imagines that at some point in the distant future, some reporter or historian, rooting through deservedly forgotten documents and private communications, will discover that the whole US, Russian, Syrian “deal” was cooked up far in advance of the precipitating incidents. Assuming prior negotiations between the parties, the only open question is: Who duped

Malloy And Rell

When former Governor Jodi Rell retired from office, she retired from politics as well. Mrs. Rell has not endorsed Republican wannabe governors, however coveted her endorsement might be. In this respect, she is to Connecticut what former President George Bush is to the nation – hardly there at all. There is among former presidents a private code verging on a tradition that when opposition candidates are elected president, the retiring president should ride off into the sunset, break ground for a presidential library and permit the new president to govern without carping from the sidelines, however much the incoming president savages the former president by claiming that he or she has been crippled by problems “inherited” from his now stubbornly silent predecessor.

Syria And The Collapse Of US Foreign Policy

A couple of months ago, President Barack Obama drew a red line in Syria. He said if Syrian strongman Bashar al Assad, the Middle East’s answer to North Korea’s runt dictator, were to use chemical weapons against his political opponents, this would catch Mr. Obama’s interest and trigger a military response. At least, that’s what everyone thought he said. A little over a year ago, at one of Mr. Obama’s infrequent news conferences, the president said :

Himes And Blumenthal On Representation

In any issue of importance, congressmen generally are torn in two directions.  On the one hand, they are legislators charged with representing the interests of their constituents. On the other hand, they are members of a national assembly charged with advancing the public good or the good of the nation. National interests do not always coincide with constituent interests. Edmund Burke spoke to the distinction in an address to the electors of Bristol , the County in South West England he represented in Parliament. Mr. Burke was forced to address the point publicly in a campaign for office. This is the message he sent to his constituents:

Courage Reconsidered

“You have to quit confusing a madness with a mission.”  ―  Flannery O'Connor ,  The Violent Bear it Away In September, Connecticut’s Junior U.S. Senator Chris Murphy traveled to New Haven to asperse New Haven mayoralty hopeful Toni Harp with his precious endorsement. Mr. Murphy followed in the trek of Governor Dannel Malloy, who earlier had endorsed Mrs. Harp, whose deceased husband was New Haven’s premier tax scofflaw. Upon Mr. Harp’s leave-taking, his mountainous tax debt, along with his valuable assets, was passed along to his son. Mrs. Harp has disclaimed any responsibility for the tax debt, arguing that her affairs and those of her husband were separated by a Berlin Wall. But there are some in New Haven who think Mrs. Harp is at least morally responsible for the debt to Mr. Malloy’s government.

Trust In God And Keep Your Powder Dry

According to a piece in Time , Pope Francis is, on the matter of Syria, allied with the angels of peace: “Pope Francis’ response to Syria is in line with how his predecessors handled international conflicts. Pope Benedict XVI expressed concerns over the military intervention in Libya. Pope John Paul II continually and strongly spoke out against the US-led war in Iraq. The US and the Vatican squared off during the 1989 Panama invasion when Dictator Manuel Noriega took refuge in the Vatican embassy.” There is nothing surprising in the pope’s declaration. The possible persecution of Catholics, should President Obama intervene militarily in what has now become a religious war between Islamic sects in Syria, adds yet another dimension to the pope’s plea for peace. Somewhat like Chicago politicians, radical Salafists in the Middle East – i.e. members of the Muslim Brotherhood – are not inclined to let a crisis go to waste.

Dear Dan Letter From Stamford’s Democratic Party Chairman

It’s slap back time in Stamford. Following Governor Dannel Malloy’s endorsement of William Tong as Stamford’s next mayor, the Chairman of the Democratic Party in Stamford took up cudgels in the city’s press. Party Chairman John Mallozzi, speaking on behalf of the Democratic City Committee that had voted overwhelmingly to endorse David Martin as mayor in the upcoming elections, wrote in a letter to the Stamford Advocate on Friday:

Connecticut’s Armed Watch

A picture, it is often said, is worth a thousand words. In the case of a picture on the front page of a newspaper captioned “After Newtown,” the picture may be worth a thousand dead end arguments. The photo shows parents and children milling in the hallway of Henry Barnard Elementary School in Enfield on the first day of school. A bright yellow banner greets the students: “Welcome Back!” In the foreground of the picture, Kevin Hart, “one of the guards stationed at every Enfield school this year,” stands watch, his hands folded in front of him and a gun strapped to his hip. Mr. Hart is “a retired Hartford police officer hired as a monitor for Henry Barnard.” But for the pistol, he is inconspicuous and would arouse no notice.

Mother Hart

  I learned after I had been married that Andree, my wife, had spent some time in retreat at the The Benedictine Abbey of Regina Laudis  in Bethlehem, Connecticut. Her time there had left a deep impression upon her. She spoke often of the nuns she heard rather than saw. Occasionally, one would catch glimpses of them through wooden gratings, but their singing drifted out into the chapel, and from there plunged a dagger of beauty into the heart. The Gregorian chant of the nuns is a prayer sung. Plainsong, the official music of the Catholic Church, predates both harmony and polyphony. Andree, I should mention, was a singer, and music for her even now sets her soul aflame. And so, here was this cleansing wave of beauty washing over her, the poetry of the texts in Latin informed with the inexhaustible and numinous mysteries of Christ’s birth, passion, death and resurrection. Later, we visited The Abbey of Regina Laudis together. No doubt Mother Delores Hart was among the nun

Race And Politics In Connecticut

The 2014 Democratic campaign for urban hegemony is now officially underway. It will involve the usual tousle among Democrats for political prestige and power in Connecticut’s larger cities. During his first campaign for governor, then Mayor of Stamford Dan Malloy – on becoming governor, Dan requested that the media refer to him henceforward as Dannel -- easily captured the urban vote and slid past Republican gubernatorial nominee Tom Foley by the slenderest of margins. Mr. Malloy, once again in his reelection contest, may face Mr. Foley -- or some other worthy Republican champion; State Senator John McKinney has announced and Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton is teasing from the sidelines -- and the remembrance of slender margins past has caused some wonderment among the state’s left of center media concerning Mr. Malloy’s recent campaign endorsements.