Saturday, February 27, 2010

Connecticut's Congressional Delegation attacks Senate

This press release is a little confusing - it sounds like they are blaming the Senate as a whole, rather than one lame duck Senator, for an impossible situation:

Senate Inaction Holds Up Emergency Health Care,
Unemployment Assistance, Transportation Funding

WASHINGTON, DC – Just as the U.S. House of Representatives passed emergency legislation to extend critical benefits to out-of-work Americans struggling to put food on the table, stay in their homes, and pay their bills, the Connecticut House Delegation expressed extreme disappointment with the U.S. Senate for holding those benefits hostage.

Today U.S. Senator Jim Bunning (R – Kentucky) blocked a request by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to move an extension of the unemployment benefits and an assortment of other programs or laws that expire this weekend, thereby faulting on needed benefits for people out of work, struggling to make ends meet.

“The inaction of the Senate is completely unacceptable— Senator Bunning, a Republican from Kentucky, is holding hostage millions of hard-working Americans who are depending on this extension of unemployment and health care benefits. Families across the country, and here at home in Connecticut, will now face another day of struggle, uncertain if they can afford to pay their mortgage, their heating bills, or for health care, and I think it is a disgrace. Every day that goes by is another affront to our citizens, and represents Republican hypocrisy and obstructionism at its worst,” said Rep. Rosa DeLauro. “The House passed this legislation already, and I call upon the Senate to do the same. It is simply the right thing to do. Governor Rell should be talking to her Republican colleagues in the Senate about how to move forward on these issues.”

“Connecticut is a small delegation, and we have always prided ourselves on working together across party lines. For the Governor to attempt to lay partisan blame, while her party in Washington has delayed and obstructed more than 290 bills in the Senate is unfortunate. Critical legislation on jobs, financial reform, and help for seniors and veterans is being blocked by unprecedented Republican filibusters,” said Rep. John Larson. “I urge the Governor to call on members of her own party to end their political games. And I further call on her to work to ensure that state agencies maximize their efforts to secure the federal funding our delegation has worked so hard to make available to help Connecticut citizens.”

"Next week, we have to focus on breaking the partisan impasse in the Senate and making sure Connecticut starts submitting complete and sufficient applications for stimulus funds," said Rep. Chris Murphy.

"Senator Bunning's outrageous behavior is a new low for the filibuster-mania of Senate Republicans that is blocking consideration of important bills on issues like higher education assistance and job creation, which passed the House with bipartisan support,” said Rep. Joe Courtney. “I hope Governor Rell will use her influence in the Republican party to stop this unprecedented abuse of Senate rules."

“This is exactly what’s wrong with Washington. As thousands of families and businesses struggle to get by, one senator is holding hostage assistance to keep food on people’s tables and families out of shelters,” said Himes. “No one would question emergency assistance in response to a hurricane or flood. As we continue to take additional steps to create jobs and get America back to work, these short term extensions are critical in the face of our economic recovery. The Senate must take action.”

Last night the House passed an emergency 30-day extension with critical benefits for families in the Connecticut and across the nation. This extension passed the House without a single Republican opposing it. However the Senate has yet to pass their version of the extension. Those benefits included in the extension, set to expire THIS WEEKEND, include:

• Unemployment benefits;
• Help with health insurance for the unemployed (COBRA);
• Surface transportation programs including highway and bridge funding and other critical state transportation projects thereby putting hundreds of transportation jobs at risk;
• Satellite TV access, which puts at risk the ability of people to watch the programs of their choice;
• Delay in the cut to Medicare physician payments, thereby putting seniors access to doctors at risk;
• Flood insurance; and
• Small business loan guarantees.

At this point, the timeline for full restoration of these benefits is unclear. Currently, the House has passed 290 pieces of legislation on which the Senate has yet to act.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Rudy Marconi video stirs controversy

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See video and comments here.

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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Democrats on the nuclear option

The best arguments against the so called nuclear option, widely considered as a measure that might be useful in passing the health care initiatives of President Barack Obama, Chris Dodd, Chuck Schumer, Harry Reid and the better angels of Hillary Clinton’s nature were made in 05 by the politicos mentioned above. The warning issued by now Vice President Joe Biden is especially chilling.


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Tuesday Round-up

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Shays out of Governor's race


CT loses more Fed $

Joe Does Something Nice – What A Surprise!

Simmons/McMahon trade charges, plus mea culpa

It's been a long time coming, but I owe an apology to the Rob Simmons campaign, and I might as well do it the same day I have a post about the GOP Senate race.

First, in my last post at CTLocalPolitics, I noted the aggression of the McMahon campaign, and asserted she was trying not merely to win but to drive Simmons out of the race. I also posited his campaign might make such a move, writing “... I wouldn't be surprised if there is not some change of course for the Simmons campaign soon.”

I was taken to task by the Simmons people, and in response, as evidence, I noted he was falling in the polls. They replied that he was still leading. Sure enough, they were correct. In the two most recent Q polls, Simmons maintains a double-digit lead (though I'm sure it is closer now). She is closer in others, but their claims on this were correct, and I was wrong. So Mea Culpa.

Now on to the news.

Yesterday's Conn Post ran an article claiming some CT GOPers are miffed that Party Chair Chris Healy's wife, Suzan Bibisi, works for the McMahon camp, claiming this is a conflict of interest for Healy, and his ability to be neutral is “compromised.” (See the article here: http://www.americanchronicle.com/articles/yb/141569549 ) Healy calls the claim “ridiculous,” and denies it. Bibisi does have a history of campaign work to bolster her qualifications, as well, and I sincerely doubt there is any kind of quid pro quo here.

However, appearances matter, and this has bad optics. Recall, one of Chris Dodd's peccadiloes was getting a cheap loan. He countered that his WIFE got the loan, to which all sentient beings thought, “Well, they pay the bills together, don't they?” Similarly, Healy clearly benefits if his wife is employed, and if she is employed by someone who can gain from his influence, then he may be in a compromising position. Just being logical.

Do I think Healy is up to something? No. He used to work for Simmons, and likes him a lot.
Still, this is one relationship the McMahon people may have to rethink. It both underlines her ability to spend unlimited amounts, and it may make any deal at Convention suspicious.

Furthermore, it gives the Simmons campaign a cudgel, something they have lacked. Their claims about her voting record and her inability to speak Chinese have been a yawn, if not downright silly. But this story might have legs.

We'll see who gets back to me with a rant after this story.

Nader to Speak Friday

The man most responsible for the victory of George Bush in 2000 will appear in his native state later this week.

Winsted native Ralph Nader will speak in Thompson this Friday for the group,
"Single Payer Action"

A Chevrolet Corvair rally is scheduled to follow, weather permitting.

9:15 AM Marianapolis Preparatory School

20 Chase Road, Thompson, CT 06277 (860) 923-9565


View Larger Map

Monday, February 22, 2010

Monday Open House

From A Connecticut Law Blog:

Save Connecticut’s Foreclosure Mediation Program

by Ryan McKeen

I was startled to read in last week’s CT Law Tribune that funding for the program may lapse come July...

Keeping people in their homes where possible benefits Connecticut’s towns, families, banks, and property values. Sometimes there is no alternative to a foreclosure but their often is.

The foreclosure mediation program has been successful at forcing lenders and their attorneys to engage in meaningful negotiations. Something that rarely happened before the implementation of the program. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve spoken with that used to say, “I could never get such and such law firm on the phone”.

Failing to properly fund or to discontinue the foreclosure mediation program will come at a significant cost to our property values, economy, and system of justice.



And a must read on Rell adminstration incompetence costing CT taxpayers $1 billion dollars, with a follow-up and more details here.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Exploring Malloy Talks to Gathering of SE CT Democratic Leaders

Last night, February 19, 2010, State Senator Andrea Stillman hosted a gathering of Southeastern Connecticut Democratic Town Committee Chairs and Elected Officials and other interested Democrats who heard the latest version of exploring gubernatorial candidate Dan Malloy's stump speech and ask questions of the former Stamford Mayor.

Senator Stillman opened by stating this was a "Conversation with Dan". There is no question that she is a strong Malloy supporter. As part of her introduction she stated that Malloy "has leadership qualities..."(and) is "the right person to get this state on the right track."

Mayor Malloy started by providing his background and how his mother inculcated a "sense of community" in him and that he is committed to a government that has an infrastructure, colleges, schools, and facilities that provide a real future for our children and takes care of our seniors.

For infrastructure, the state needs roads, rail, trolleys, schools, etc. without the great pressure on local government to provide those needs with little state assistance. The State leaders need to "think outside the Connecticut Box" to be able to provide for people and employers.

The next governor will face a $3 billion budget deficit. The solution must be found that will maintain the safety net of health care and basic support for the less fortunate in society with measures to assist them out of their circumstances. All other activities of state government should be on the table and properly justify their expenditures.

Over the past ten plus years, Connecticut and Michigan are the only states that have lost jobs. The previous administrations have not been proactive in keeping companies in the state. Malloy used the example of the recent Pfizer reductions. When he visited the Pfizer Groton complex six or so months ago, he found out that neither the Governor or a member of her administration had contacted Pfizer management to determine what assistance the state could provide to keep the business in the state. In another case, he noted that a business friend of his was establishing a new technology company in Connecticut. When his announcement appeared in the WALL STREET JOURNAL, he received calls from the governors of Texas and North Carolina to see if he was willing to move or open his company in their states. He received no communications from any Connecticut official.

Malloy contrasted this inaction with the efforts he had done in Stamford to recruit, keep and grow business in Stamford as the rest of the State was losing business. The state needs to tackle infrastructure, housing (including affordable housing for the young worker), and energy costs in order to become competitive again.

Based on his record of accomplishment in Stamford, Malloy said he was ready to do the same at the state level.

Question and Answer Session.

Q - Currently, many, if not most, of the state contracts are awarded to out of state bidders because they are the "lowest bidder". Connecticut workers are being cut out of Connecticut jobs. What will you do to change this?
A- Will look to the legislature to institute changes to bidding requirements so they will be similar to Mass. where an contractor has to have an office in the state to bid on a state contract. It is possible that the bidding evaluation can be changed to give more weight to companies that will use Connecticut workers as opposed to bringing in workers from another state to accomplish the task.

Q- We in Southeastern Connecticut feel left out of state projects. For example, nearly all of the infrastructure projects in SECT ended up on the state's "unfundable list." What will you do to change this?
A- Agree that SECT has been shortchanged. Malloy will see to it that state projects are more balanced through out the state so that all regions will share in projects and investments. The state infrastructure is not business friendly or user friendly. It will not be fixed in a year but the effort must be started.

Q- The Governor has recently cancelled a number of bonding projects that would have improved the infrastructure and provided jobs, what would you have done?
A- $1 billion in infrastructure investment is 27,000 jobs. Dropping capital project bonding in order to bond operating expenses is wrong. The State should not borrow to pay normal, everyday operating expenses. We need to separate capital and operating expenses. It is telling that SE CT was the biggest loser in the cancelling of these bond requests.

Q- What is your feeling about closing State Mental Health facilites such as Cedarcrest?
A- The current governor is closing one facility while planning to build a new facility in Bridgeport. We should not close facilites that will place these people on the street where they may get into more trouble that will send them to a "more expensive place" instead of the supportive facility they had been in.

Q- Municipalities are having funding difficulties but don't seem to be willing to try regional solutions without state incentives. How can you get the towns and cities to work together on a regional solution without a "bribe" from the state?
A. When first became Mayor, two towns in Connecticut could not do together what each was able to do separately. As a mayor, I worked with the State Legislature to get the statutes changed so now towns and cities are able to do together what they are able to do alone. However, the system has to be changed so that local officials are able to show their citizens just how the proposed regional solution will save them dollars in the future. Right now, it is difficult for a local leader to do this. It may be necessary to form some sort of regional tax authority to take on the regional solutions. The State also needs to look regionally. As a Governor, it would be advantageous to see what a New Jersey, Connecticut, Mass. region could generate in the business arena. There is a reindustrialization movement developing in the U. S. and Connecticut needs to participate in this potential for great growth. Things won't change overnight but "the job can be done in a reasonable period of time."

Malloy certainly made a good impression on these local leaders. The real question remains if the leaders are able to transmit this to the rank and file of their Town Committees and even further to the voting Democrat in August and the voting citizen in November.

Tea Party Patriots, Who They Are

Shortly after a Kamikaze pilot in Texas drove his plane into building occupied by the Internal Revenue Service, leftist bloggers began to speculate, on very slender evidence, that the pilot may have been connected with Tea Party protestors. His obvious preference for communism over capitalism in a sign off letter he left behind soon spoiled that hastily constructed thesis. But the faulty thesis begs the question: Who are these people who call themselves Tea Party Patriots.

In an effort to arrive at an answered to that question, the National Review Institute commissioned McLaughlin & Associates to study two separate groups of Tea Party Patriots: the “6 percent of the 1,000 likely voters polled in mid-January who told McLaughlin that they had participated in tea-party rallies and the additional 47 percent who said they ‘have not participated in a tea party protest but . . . generally agree with the reasons for those protests.’”

The results of the study are certain to disappoint those on the left who feel constrained to demonize the group as a negligible fringe phenomenon.

MORE HERE

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Cafe Press

Cafe Press, according to CBS News, is doing a booming business in this:


"There were no Obama-themed designs on the list," a company spokeswoman said. "Bush has stolen the political spotlight, just like Sarah Palin did the week before when she re-surfaced with crib notes written in her palm."

Thursday Open Forum

Susan Bysiweicz is going to court, and suing everyone in sight, including herself? Dick Blumenthal will defend?

The suit includes all required parties that have authority over placement of candidates on the primary ballot this August, including the State of Connecticut, the Connecticut Democratic Party, and the Democratic Party Chair, Nancy DiNardo.

A new study published by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) draws a connection between the lack of paid sick days (which Ned Lamont opposed but now thinks is a good idea - see below) and the spread of H1N1, the so-called “swine flu’ virus.

The report, “Sick at Work: Infected Employees in the Workplace During the H1N1 Pandemic” made the following findings:
• An estimated 8 million American employees came to work while infected with H1N1.
• An estimated 7 million people contracted the illness from a sick co-worker.
• The study suggests workers without paid sick days were far more likely to come to work while infect with H1N1.

Ned Lamont hasn't won back all his old supporters:

While Swan wouldn’t talk about it, sources said it must be painful for him to see Lamont wavering on the issue of publicly financed campaigns, which Swan and CCAG have promoted and supported for years.
“I’m going to go out there to win. I’ll be opting out of the public financing,“ Lamont said Tuesday in a question and answer session with the media. He prefaced that statement by saying what he’s been saying for several months: “I’m a big believer in clean campaigns, but I’m not going to go into this battle with one arm tied behind my back.”
On another progressive issue, Lamont said forcing employers to give paid sick days to employees is “a good idea. But my issue is jobs.”


Jim Himes brags about the Recovery Act:
The Recovery Act has already invested nearly $575 million in Connecticut’s 4th District, and we are only half-way through the two-year program. Information about all of the projects in the district is available at www.himes.house.gov/recovery. The Recovery Act has made hundreds of local projects possible, but key investments include:
· $1.8 million completing funding necessary to demolish Congress Street Bridge.
· $4 million to the WorkPlace, Inc. to train and place 700 workers into in-demand “green” jobs.
· $4.8 million to put 20 new police officers on the streets in Bridgeport.
· $46 million to schools throughout the district to keep teachers in the classroom.
· $2.7 million for the Stamford Urban Transitway.
· $1.3 million to expand the Norwalk Community Health Center.

The blog MyLeftNutmeg is running a poll for or the Democratic candidates for Governor:
So far Ned Lamont is way ahead, while his principal rival, Dan Malloy is barely beating a virtual unknown, Rudy Marconi.

Rep. Jim Himes On Holding Legislation Hostage

In a meeting with some of the most distinguished bloggers in Connecticut (and on this site):



Hat Tip: Connecticut Man1 at ePluribus Media

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Wednesday Round-up

Great comment from CT Blue:
I refuse to spend my day venting against the Democrats, such as Evan Bayh, who seems to be determined to wreak maximum damage before he leaves. I can only say, good riddance to him. If we play our cards right, we can be the minority party in the Senate, and then we’ll be in control.


CT Bob takes a different approach:
What the Democrats need to do in order to survive in November.1) get good candidates to fill open seats, 2) they need to pass health reform, and 3) they need to embarrass Republicans on their hypocrisy!


The original, and some think best, political blogger in Connecticut, makes a rare appearance, criticizing his friends:
If Lamont's supposed hard-core supporters cannot rouse themselves to cheer his announcement, complete with fawning video, how in the wide world of sports is he supposed to win this thing?


And a "raving liberal" posts a video of Dick Blumenthal declaring his independence and doesn't seem too happy about it:
He’s not sure he would vote for the Senate Health Bill, he opposes civilian trials for attempted terrorists activities in the U.S., he supports expanding the war in Afghanistan, he favors the death penalty. Sounds like another Independent, doesn’t he?

Thank you Jonathan Kantrowitz

39 Posts in 2 weeks!


With the untimely demise of Connecticut Local Politics, it was Jonathan Kantrowitz who offered up this site making a slew of CTLP regulars, front page posters on the spot; a fairly ballsy move in itself. (Thankfully, there's been no gun-play........as of yet at any rate.)

Kantrowitz is an unapologetic true-believer, raving liberal and a bonafide member of the intelligentsia. Thus he's the sort of political adversary I avoid debating as he's in a different, much higher IQ league than I am; so I leave any debating with his sort to folks like GOP Chair Healy, or Don Pesci rather than allow myself to get metaphorically tossed around the ring like one of Linda McMahon's WWE stooges.

His gracious offer caught me entirely off-guard and I'll admit I was somewhat suspicious as to how long posts from the right would remain up.

Clearly Jonathan's a better fellow than I had thought. Now if we can just get him to stop being so formal........

Jonathan on the left (of course!) Photo stolen from Bob Adams site CT Bob.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Lamont Announces


Today, Connecticut finds itself facing immense fiscal challenges — as our working families and small businesses continue to bear the brunt of the economic downturn.

After years of unfocused leadership, our state is sorely in need of a chief executive who will focus like a laser on creating jobs and getting our economy back on trackNed Lamont

If you unpack “economic downturn,” you will find that the “burden borne by working families and small businesses” is related to high spending priorities in the Democratic dominated legislature, an unfriendly tax environment and excessive liabilities. A chief executive who focused like a laser on “creating jobs and getting our economy on track” would sturdily resist a legislature now spending beyond its means by, in round figures, about $3 billion.

One can only hope the next governor will direct his or her well focused laser at legislative leaders such as Speaker of the House Chris Donovan and President Pro Tem of the Senate Don Williams, both of whom have shown themselves to be resistant to spending cuts. Donovan especially prefers “revenue enhancements” over cuts that may disturb his principal political supporters, union workers.

A Democratic hand on the tiller, it is tempting to think, may have a firmer grip on the direction of the ship of state than any of the previous three Connecticut governors, two of them Republicans, and a third, Lowell Weicker, who assisted Mr. Lamont in his failed senate campaign against present U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman, a faux Republican who once identified himself, correctly, as “a turd in the Republican Party punchbowl.”

For the first time since former Gov. William O’Neill left office, the gubernatorial plum lies within reach of Democratic fingers, now that Gov. Jodi Rell has bowed out of the gubernatorial contest, and a government wholly captured by Democrats would be a “no excuse” government.

Lamont, best known for his ardent opposition to a war policy in Iraq that pretty much everyone agrees has accomplished the goals of ex-President George Bush, is beginning to sound like every other Democratic gubernatorial job growth candidate. Indeed there is no one in either the Democratic or Republican camps who would not, were he a governor armed with a magic wand, wave it over brutalized Connecticut and instantly produce the jobs without which the state cannot recover from its economic doldrums, closely related these days to legislative doldrums.

The legislature has reached the bottom of its revenue barrel. Its off budget credit card has been maxed out. Mommy, in the form of Moody’s rating service, already has rapped its knuckles and warned that the state’s bond rating will further deteriorate unless the legislature minds its economic matters by reducing both spending and its long term liabilities.

The state’s pantry is empty but for one remaining golden goose, Connecticut’s millionaires and mini-millionaires. Eager fingers are now reaching for the state’s last untapped revenue source, hoping the goose does not take flight and move to Texas, a state that has no income tax and is better positioned than others to recover from what promises to be, especially here in Connecticut, a long, painful convalescence.

When he threw his hat in the gubernatorial ring Tuesday at the old State House, Lamont mentioned Texas in connection with job production:

“I was talking with a manufacturer the other day, and he told me about a guy named Rick. ‘He kept calling to tell me that I should move my company to Austin, Texas -- lots of other manufacturers like me in Austin, he said -- in fact, he’d fly me down to take a look. I said no thanks, Rick, I’ve always been a New Britain guy, so I’m not inclined to move -- and he said ‘Oh, come on -- take a look.’

“That’s Rick Perry, the Governor of Texas... and Connecticut needs a governor who picks up the phone, beats the pavement, who puts us back on the offense.”
If the governor of Texas has been successfully poaching companies from Connecticut, it is likely that Texas has a better product to offer.

Whether the next governor will be able to change the getting and spending environment in Connecticut so that it’s sales pitch to companies on wheels will be more alluring than at present is a consummation devoutly to be wished. Phone calls are all very well and good; one supposes that the Rell administration made calls. But bringing to the surface a state that has the largest per capita debt in the nation is going to take a little more in the way of blood sweat and tears that is apparent in Lamont’s gubernatorial announcement.

Malloy Points out Experience in Response To Lamont Announcement

According to the Associated Press as reported on the New London DAY Website Ned Lamont is opting out of the Public Finance Program. As quoted in the article, Lamont stated that "he's not going into this battle with one arm tied behind his back."

Still Exploring Candidate and former Stamford Mayor Dan Malloy responded with the following comment:


“The contrast between us couldn’t be any sharper, or the choice more clear. I spent 14 years creating thousands of jobs, balancing budgets, making government more efficient, expanding access to health care, lowering crime rates, building affordable housing, investing in clean energy, and improving transportation systems – without ever losing sight of where I came from or the obstacles I’ve overcome to get here.



“Ned seems to think his millions of dollars and his background as a cable executive are why Democrats should choose him over me. I think he’s wrong. I think Democrats want a nominee who has the right kind of experience for the job.”



There is no indication that Lamont will adher to the public financing guidelines during the primary season so that may place a real burden on the Malloy campaign to overcome the public recognition that Lamont enjoys after his high profile race against Lieberman in 2006 while Malloy and DeStefano were gasping for exposure in the gubernatorial race.

As noted by his quote, Malloy is counting on his experience in the political arena and Lamont is counting on his money. Which will the voters choose?

Since Republicans Want to Kill Medicare...

and Social Security too, a fact that may upset some GOP activists because they have to deal with that reality in the trenches and this is not something most of them want to talk to voters about leading up to the next round of elections. And given the fact that I am just a moderate little "i" indy with no party affiliation - I just play nicer on the left/Democratic party side of the Blogosphere because, much like myself and for the most part, they deal from the reality deck - I thought I would point to a story in The New Haven Independent covering CT-05's Rep. Chris Murphy discussing the issue of Healthcare Reform with activists that understand the problems we are all trying to deal with.

To be blunt, Murphy thinks the Democratic party needs to come out swinging and drive reform through.
Instead of running from health care reform, Democrats need to swing back, and not dumb it down in reaction to right-wing talking points.
Myself, personally? I agree. Healthcare reform has been one of my pet issues for years. I have written about the fact that it is quickly becoming the anchor that will sink the entire US economy. And it is precisely because of the fact that the for-profit driven insurance madness currently sucks up about 16 to 17% of the USA's GDP, an astronomical number compared to almost every other nation that we have to compete with in the global market.

In 2007 I wrote about the fact that "each vehicle assembled in the United States cost GM $1,525 for health care; those made in Canada cost GM $197."

But it is not just applicable to the auto industry. The competitive disadvantage this puts us at in the global market and in every industry is mind boggling. Meanwhile, while we suffer the consequences of not only being at a severe competitive disadvantage, the for-profit insurers deny care an ever growing number of people.

Because of our dysfunctional system pitting profits against the value of a life or their health, the uninsured have zero access to basic primary and preventative care, the only care they may have access to is costly hospital emergency room care, and a growing number of people are seeing their private plans disintegrate in value or being dropped completely by their employers. And the inured still have to deal with ever rising co-pays that literally put access to actually using their insurance out of their financial reach and have to deal with insurance companies that pay bonuses to a herd of people hired to do nothing but deny you care you already paid for in your policy.

There are better answers. 

And these better answers come from the reality side of the aisle I was talking about earlier in the post. While not all in the left nor on the Democratic side agree with this action, it is an action that they all admit would work:
Dr. Emmanuel Logiadis (at right in photo) implored Murphy to lead the charge to make sure some changes, such as the Medicare expansion, get passed through reconciliation. The Senate needs only 50 votes in that process, not the 60 it needs to overcome a filibuster.



Medicare eligibility age can be lowered to zero, said Logiadis, a doctor from Trumbull. That would make many of his friends in their 20s and 30s happy, he said. They could now say, “I worked for Obama, and now he has delivered for me health care for life.”


“For the life of me I don’t see why [Senate Majority Leader] Harry Reid doesn’t actually force the Republicans to filibuster—- I would have killed to see the Republicans argue against expansion of Medicare,” Murphy said.
Real Healthcare Reform can still happen. 

Reform that both the people and the businesses that do actually provide real services and real material goods to the economy would benefit greatly from. Real reform that would easily cut out about 25 to 27% of American healthcare costs right off the top and immediately as soon as it is implemented.

There is a reality that is too often lost in the debate, too easily ignored by the ideologues that are trying to stop any and all real Healthcare Reform. And a reality that will cost the Democratic party votes if they don't address it head on. Part of what has the voters from across the political spectrum furious with everyone in Washington D.C..

We don't need insurance reform... We need Guaranteed Healthcare. 

Why is this man smiling?


"A RELATIVE BARGAIN: George Mercieca, a worker at a GM assembly plant in Oshawa, Ontario, shows off his Canadian health care card. GM spends an average of $1,385 a year on medical bills for hourly workers in Canada. An American autoworker costs the company about $5,000, but studies show Americans are no healthier than their foreign counterparts."
He is smiling because he has a great job with better medical benefits than most Americans could ever hope for under our failed healthcare for-profit system. The kind of job that Connecticut, and the USA as a whole, can not realistically hope to attract under our current system as it eats up more and more of our GDP, making it unaffordable to consider the entire USA as an option for locating needed jobs.

If you do not believe me than ask yourself "what does the manufacturing industry have to say about this?" (Answer below the fold...)


Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Buzz on Synergy and the New Media Conglomerate

While I originally wrote this back in October of '09, I think this is a piece that could be equally applicable to the right wing New Media as it is to the left wing New Media. What Blogging is all about in many cases is wrestling away the deceptive information and media narratives as it is often presented in the Traditional Media and putting the real clash of ideas (Liberal vs Conservative -- Libertarian vs Authoritarian -- political parties, etc.) in a truly free market place of ideas to the test. Fact checking the traditional media narratives, critiquing their opinions and presentation and, more often in today's New Media, producing our own news so that we can, ourselves, ask the hard questions that much of the corporate owned media conglomerates would rather the consumers not ever see, hear or dare to think about. And the same can be said for some of the people participating in the New Media, as well.

The importance of a place like Connecticut Local Reporter rising out of the ashes of Connecticut Local Politics is that it allows the views that newspapers and our local and national TV news too often ignore to continue to be publicly vetted in an honest manner.

Last week I posted a diary called "Media Destroyer", and the intention of it was to be a lead in to this discussion on the value that the New Media brings to the table, the value of Connecticut Local Reporter and the value of us all contributing to issues like Net Neutrality, an issue that the biggest and smallest blogs on the left and right and everything in between have worked on together for all of our benefits. For the benefit of real and unfiltered free speech. And the value of BOTH the left and right wing New Media as the real battle front of ideas, issues and policies. Nothing but facts and opinions based on them left standing to rule the day.

And I do not apologize for this piece being written from the particular point of view of a moderate liberal and an even more moderately libertarian point of view but, as I said earlier, many of these issues "are equally applicable to the right wing New Media". I just have zero interest in writing that particular piece for the right or authoritarians, myself. 

Enjoy! Reading and then as we say at ePluribus Media where this piece was originally posted and a message that Jonathan Kantrowitz would surely approve of for this new place he started for everyone's benefit:
"Discuss, Debate, Decide ..."

The Buzz on Synergy and the New Media Conglomerate 

Over the years we have seen that a massive concentration of corporations and media synergy has been on the rise as a marketing tool:

Synergy in the media

In media economics, synergy is the promotion and sale of a product (and all its versions) throughout the various subsidiaries of a media conglomerate, e.g.: films, soundtracks or video games. Walt DisneyMickey Mouse character in products and ads, and continued to market Disney media through licensing arrangements. These products can help advertise the film itself and thus help to increase the film's sales. For example, the Spider-Man films had toys of webshooters and figures of the characters made, as well as posters and games.

Even the lefts' more trusted corporate owned news sources are almost always, to a degree, caught up in some conflicts of interests because of Media conglomerates that can be damaging to the public good:

Critics have accused the larger conglomerates of dominating media, especially news, and refusing to publicize or deem "newsworthy" information that would be harmful to their other interests, and of contributing to the merging of entertainment and news (sensationalism) at the expense of tough coverage of serious issues. They are also accused of being a leading force for the standardization of culture (see globalization, Americanization), and they are a frequent target of criticism by partisan political groups which often perceive the news productions biased toward their foes.

In response, the companies and their supporters state that they maintain a strict separation between the business end and the production end of news departments.

Eventually the truth leaks out.


At times we get glimpses of honesty from even the supposed papers of record or television sources we are given by decoding buzz words and/or pulling out facts that, in retrospect on their part and in their own self interests, those news sources would probably like to be able to go back and kill before the more analytical readers out there in the New Media and Blogosphere got their hands on it.


The media analysis group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) issued an action alert September 22 titled "NYT Slams Single-Payer" that described lopsided reporting in a New York Times article about "Medicare for all," a form of a single-payer health care system. FAIR noted that the article, titled "Medicare for All? ‘Crazy,’ ‘Socialized’ and Unlikely", laid out a list of arguments against single-payer while failing to include any balancing responses from the option's supporters. In explaining the slant, article author Katharine Seelye said she was trying to explain why Medicare-for-all was "not going anywhere." "I thought the substance of [single-payer] had been dealt with elsewhere many times," she said. On October 13, Times public editor Clark Hoyt conceded that FAIR "had a point," and agreed that the article excluded the point of view of single-payer health care system supporters. FAIR said it finds Seelye's defense "alarming," and points out that the Times, like the rest of the corporate-owned media, has given the issue of single-payer health care "scant attention."

Not exactly the kind of reaction they would have received in the days before Citizen Journalism and the tools needed to practice it were developed to help create a New Media.


Control of the debate has shifted.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Left and Blumenthal

Whoa!

Mr. Gregg Levine of FireDogLake has launched several rhetorical missiles at the highly partisan Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat now running for Chris Dodd’s seat in the U.S. Senate:

“Those who know Dick tell me that he is the quintessential finger-in-the-wind politician. Hell, just listening to this short interview on WNYC’s The Brian Lehrer Show, I got the image of some classic Hollywood film caricature of the blowhard, entrenched, do nothing, say anything gasbag. So, what struck me while listening was which way this weathervane thought the wind was blowing.”
Mr. Levine is disappointed both with Blumenthal’s hawkish view on President Barack Obama’s war in Afghanistan and the attorney general’s public disagreement with U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder concerning the proposed trial of terrorist Kahlid Sheik Mohammed in a civilian court.

Mr. Levine quotes an offending passage from Blumenthal’s interview:

“I am determined to chart my own course in Washington, different in many respects from the Administration. I’ve taken the position that the trial of Khalid Sheik Mohammed should be in a military tribunal away from the United States, or, I’m sorry, away from New York and New Haven, and on a number of other issues, for example opposing the reconfirmation of Bernanke as chairman of the Federal Reserve, I have charted my own course, I’m prepared to do it, and issue-by-issue debate either side in what I think is the right thing to do.
“Drivel,” says Mr. Levine.

He then tears into Blumenthal with a meat axe.

Obama, Mr. Levine notes, is still popular in Connecticut, “a very blue state.” And yet in this and other interviews, the Democratic senatorial hopeful has gone to some pains to disavow Obama’s publicly declared position, admittedly now in flux, on no fewer than three important issues: the trial of terrorists in civilian courts; the reappointment of Ben Bernanke as Fed Chair; and the Mirandizing of terrorist suspect Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab.

On the Mirandizing of terrorists, Blumenthal fails to satisfy Mr Levine, who once again quotes Blumenthal in the interview:
“Let’s talk in real terms about what Mirandizing means. It means reading somebody their rights as opposed to simply interrogating them. I think there’s a general consensus now that in that instance there may have been no real need to read Miranda rights before some interrogation took place. And, in my view, with a terrorist, with our nation potentially at risk, interrogation should be pursued, and the consequences may be that some evidence may be inadmissible, but there is obviously in that case, overwhelming evidence without whatever may be gained or gleaned from the interrogation. So, bottom line, interrogation should have been pursued by a specially trained group of agents without necessarily a lawyer being present, and if at some point there was diminished usefulness to the interrogation, other criminal interrogation should have been applied perhaps by other authorities.”
“Utter garbage,” observes Mr. Levine.

And when Blumenthal is not spewing garbage, he is spouting “inaccuracies” and “inanities” such as this:

“Very often the reading of rights diminishes the usefulness of subsequent interrogation, the reason being simply that the defendant chooses to have a lawyer present, or chooses to cease talking. And I would have pursued the interrogation without the Miranda rights because I believe that the usefulness of learning about contacts from Yemen and elsewhere in the world and potential immediate attacks that may be known to this individual outweigh the benefits of having that at the trial.”
Not only are such sentiments “stupid” in Mr. Levine's view but they are “completely counter to the position of the administration of a president still thought popular in Dick’s state.”

On the whole, Mr. Levine’s is not a positive review thus far of Blumenthal’s positions on matters of importance to the left. Indeed, at this rate, it will be difficult for Blumenthal to avoid the charge over at FireDogLake that the attorney general is beginning to sound like his likely Republican opponents or, at worse, Dick Cheney.

Local leftist have not yet weighed in on Mr. Levine’s trenchant analysis.

Weak or Strong - Which is Better?

Strong, obviously, right?

How about for currencies? Would you rather have a "strong" dollar, high in value against other currencies, or a "weak" dollar, lower in value against other currencies? Well a strong dollar seems to be a matter or pride with many conservative politicians, and their richer constituents, who tend to buy more luxury goods from abroad, and travel more.

But the fact of the matter is that a "weak" dollar is much better for our economy. A weak dollar makes our products cheaper than our competitors, both abroad and domestically. We produce and sell more, and employ more workers, when the dollar is weak.

The Chinese know this very well. They keep their currency, the rembibi, artificially weak, so as to spur their economy and continue its incredible growth. It's their weak currency that allows them to experience huge trade surpluses year after year, and accumulate huge dollar reserves.

Right now, Greece, Spain and Portugal would love to weaken their currencies as their economies struggle, but they can't. Their currency is the Euro, over which they have no control.

So the next time you hear a politician railing against the weak dollar, maybe you should think twice.

Friday, February 12, 2010

How to uncommit budget suicide

Governor Rell and the Legislature are back in Hartford, tackling yet another multi-hundred-million dollar state deficit. It is all too familiar. But this session can be different, if our political leaders confront reality, introduced by none other than the unlikely figure of Willie Brown, for decades a California liberal pro-union icon.

Last month, Brown wrote, "Over the years the civil service system has changed from one that protects jobs to one that runs the show. It used to be that civil servants were paid less than private sector workers in exchange for job security. Politicians expanded pay and benefits to private-sector levels while keeping the job protections and layering on incredibly generous retirement packages that pay ex-workers almost as much as current workers. Someone is going to have to get honest about the fact that 80 percent of the state, county and city budget deficits are due to employee costs."

That just about sums it up: Our leaders have to get "honest," or our state will never solve our permanent structural deficit. The budgetary meltdowns in California, New York and New Jersey are nothing less than a blueprint for the future of Connecticut if we don't heed Brown's call to get "honest," or as I say, to face reality.

When Brown was the Democratic Leader in the California House, he always voted to increase benefits and salaries. It was after he became Mayor (that is, executive) of San Francisco that he realized that the situation was untenable.

That's been the problem. The Governor is the executive of a state, while the Legislature gets to dole out the goodies. For most of these states, regardless of who the Governor was, the Democrats had the legislative power to push through huge contract increases for the state employees.

How bad is the problem? A report in USA Today found that the average (federal) government worker's pay is $71,206, compared with $40,331 in the private sector. So not only do government workers get great benefits and pensions, but now actually earn more money than their private-sector counterparts. And yes, they still have the vaunted "job security." The Stimulus, in effect an enormous transfer payment to government workers, has allowed the states to keep workers despite their red ink, so that public worker unemployment rate is less than 3%, and the private sector rate is over 12%.

If this were a private company, the response to these chronic deficits would be a fait accompli: amend the contracts, lay some people off, or go out of business. It would be up to the CEO to do the amending.

That brings us back to our budget talks. Governor Rell is retiring after this term. There has never been a better opportunity for our chief executive to tell the people of Connecticut the truth,which is that we simply cannot go on treating our state workers as if they were a protected class. They have to live in reality, as the rest of us do.

So far, she has tinkered around the edges of the Democratic proposals, which coddle state workers while we pay them with borrowed money. (I single out Democrats throughout because the civil service unions, such as a SEIU, AFSCME and CSEA, work closely with the Democratic Party. SEIU President Andy Stern, for example, has had more meetings with President Obama than any other official.)

As this is Rell's last budget go-round, I would love to see her take the process to the public, explain the stakes, and simply let the people put pressure on their legislators and force them to make the fiscal adjustments necessary to make our budget fundamentally sound. To get reality. Or as Willie Brown says, to get "honest." It would be a fantastic legacy of leadership to leave behind.

This column first ran in the Fairfield and Westport Minuteman newspapers on February 11, 2010. Link: http://www.minutemannewscenter.com/articles/2010/02/12/fairfield/opinion/op_ed/doc4b7323ce26faa012141124.txt

Friday Open Forum

*
Wandering around the blogs, etc.:

CT Bob takes on the WWE, with an assist from Rick Green:

Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now (ConnCAN) has launched a campaign urging public officials to make the reforms it believes are necessary for Connecticut to be truly competitive.

CT Blue on “snow storm proves there’s no global warming”

And a VERY interesting report on My Left Nutmeg on Denise Nappier, our State Treasurer:

And from MSM:

Ted Mann continues his excellent reporting on Governor Rell’s pollgate.

REPORT GIVES CONNECTICUT A GRADE OF 'D+' FOR POLICIES THAT IMPACT QUALITY OF TEACHERS

A new report by the not-for-profit, non-partisan National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) finds that Connecticut's teacher policies largely work against the nation's goal of improving teacher quality. While the national focus on teacher quality has never been greater, the broad range of state laws, rules and regulations that govern the teaching profession too often impede rather than promote serious reform.

NCTQ's 2009 State Teacher Policy Yearbook examined state policy across five areas that include teacher preparation, evaluation, tenure and dismissal, alternative certification and compensation. Connecticut earned the following grades, resulting in an overall grade of D+:

• Delivering Well Prepared Teachers: C
• Expanding the Teaching Pool: B-
• Identifying Effective New Teachers: D+
• Retaining Effective New Teachers: F
• Exiting Ineffective New Teachers: C-

NCTQ President Kate Walsh said, "The release of the 2009 Yearbook comes at a particularly opportune time. Race to the Top, the $4.5 billion federal discretionary grant competition, has put unprecedented focus on education reform in general, and teacher quality in particular. We believe that the Yearbook provides a road map for achieving a Race to the Top grant, identifying where states are on the right track and where they have considerable work to do.

Walsh continued: “Unfortunately, states have tremendous ground to make up after years of policy neglect. There is much more Connecticut can do to ensure that all children have the effective teachers they deserve."

Among the findings about Connecticut:

• Connecticut requires annual evaluations of all teachers and includes some objective evidence of student learning in these evaluations. However, the state does not make such evidence the preponderant criterion in evaluations, meaning that a teacher may earn a satisfactory rating even if found ineffective in the classroom. Further, Connecticut does not require that districts collect or consider any evidence of teacher effectiveness as part of tenure decisions.

• Connecticut makes it too difficult for districts to attempt to dismiss poor performers by failing to articulate a policy for dismissing teachers for poor performance separate from dismissal policies for criminal and morality violations. Connecticut also allows multiple appeals of dismissals.

• Connecticut's requirements for the preparation of elementary teachers do not ensure these teachers are well prepared to teach mathematics.

• Connecticut sets low expectations for what special education teachers should know, despite state and federal expectations that special education students should meet the same high standards as other students.

• Connecticut fails to hold its teacher preparation programs accountable for the quality of the teachers they produce.

• Connecticut's pay and benefit policies for teachers—including the state-run retirement system—offer inadequate incentives to stay in teaching. The financial sustainability of Connecticut's retirement system is also uncertain, based on the state's own report.

Despite these findings, Connecticut has some bright spots, including its preparation of elementary teachers in the science of reading and its content preparation of middle school teachers. The state also offers a more streamlined and flexible alternate route to certification than most states.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Points Of Interest: Obama Administration Favors Phone Taps, Will Consider Taxing Households Making Less Than $250,000

On Friday, a federal appeals court considered a case that involves wireless phone tapping. The money graph is here in a story that appeared in CNET News:

“In that case, the Obama administration has argued that warrantless tracking is permitted because Americans enjoy no "reasonable expectation of privacy" in their--or at least their cell phones'--whereabouts. U.S. Department of Justice lawyers say that "a customer's Fourth Amendment rights are not violated when the phone company reveals to the government its own records" that show where a mobile device placed and received calls.”

Business Week reports that the Obama Administration will consider taxing households that make less than $250,00 per year:

“Obama, in a Feb. 9 Oval Office interview, said that a presidential commission on the budget needs to consider all options for reducing the deficit, including tax increases and cuts in spending on entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare.

“’The whole point of it is to make sure that all ideas are on the table,’ the president said in the interview with Bloomberg BusinessWeek, which will appear on newsstands Friday. ‘So what I want to do is to be completely agnostic, in terms of solutions.’”

Jane Hamsher on Kucinich, Grayson & Himes

From one of my favorite Dems, Jane Hamsher at Firedoglake:

After a week of voting that saw over 110,000 votes cast, the winners of the FDL 2010 Fire Dogs Contest are:

First Place: Dennis Kucinich, 24,967 votes
Second Place: Alan Grayson, 17,296 votes


I can see why Dennis and Alan are so well-liked by liberals. They're my two favorite Dem Congressmen. Neither are members of The Political Class.

Jane continues her piece by explaining why these members are well-liked by the Firepups:

Having worked with many many progressive members of Congress, this is what these Reps do that others don’t:

1. Treat online supporters like others treat lobbyists: Grayson, Kucinich and Weiner treat the online community like Jim Himes treats Goldman Sachs. Whereas Himes calls up his bankster donors before he takes a votes, these three go online and made their case to online activists.


I kinda liked Jim two years ago. And I live in the CT-5. Nonetheless, I strongly hope that all members of Congress with any relation to Goldman Sachs get booted this year.

IMO, there is outright corruption related to the dealings among Paulson, Geithner and The Banksters. And while I don't think that has anything to do with Congressman Himes, I'm simply disgusted with all-things-Goldman. Washington needs a good house cleaning - on both sides of the aisle.

Amann Calls It Quits

Former Speaker of the state House Jim Amann, the Wicked Stepmother to Gov. Jodi Rell’s Snow White, has decided he would rather not be governor. The road to this decision for Amann has been a winding one. As Speaker Amann was regarded by some as a “fiscal conservative,” a vanishing breed within the Democratic Party. He stepped out of the House in favor of the present Speaker, Chris Donovan, once and forever a union leader and not, even his most ardent admirers may admit, a conservative anything.

"I'm just a beach kid from Milford, Connecticut,'' Amann told the crowd that saw him off. "Never in my wildest dreams did I think I could run for governor.''

A dwindling number of moderates in the Democratic Party regarded Amann, a plainspoken man, as a Harry Truman type. Truman was, of course, the Stalin bashing president who launched the United States on the road to containment of the Soviet Union, a steadfast course pursued by several presidents whose determination was rewarded when the Berlin Wall, and the Soviet Empire, collapsed.

By all accounts, Amann certainly was  blunt, plainspoken, and occasionally concerned with the spending extravagances of his colleagues in the House. He was said to be kind and good to his staff. For these reasons, he will be missed.

Only Explorers Left on Democratic Side for Governor

The lone Democratic Gubernatorial candidate, Jim Amann, has withdrawn from the race. The rumor was reported on WTNH last night and the New London DAY is reporting that Amann officially withdrew this morning, February 11, 2010 at a press conference at the Capitol.

Now when will the exploring Dan Malloy and Ned Lamont drop the exploring and become a "candidate". Town Committees make delegate selection for the nominating convention at the end of March. I am sure the delegates are interested in supporting candidates, not explorers.

Dean Suit Against Blumenthal Heading To Supreme Court

Martha Dean challenged present Attorney General and heir apparent to U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd’s seat on the Democratic ticket way back in 2002. She lost in part because the money cards were stacked against her by Blumenthal.

Weeks before the election, Dean discovered from a fellow attorney who wished to contribute to her campaign that he could not do so. The attorney supplied Dean with a copy of a contract between his firm and the state containing language that prevented him -- as well as all the lawyers in his firm and all their spouses and legal staff -- from voting with his dollars for Dean.

Dean said she was “stunned’ by the prohibition. She called Blumenthal’s office. The gang there confirmed that the provision, considered by some a violation of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Buckley v. Valeo, had been inserted for the first time by Mr. Blumenthal into state contracts with law firms in 1996. “Mr. Blumenthal,” Dean said “refused to release potential contributors from the ban.”

Eye gouging in what appears on the surface to be an upright campaign is nothing new for an attorney general who has not scrupled to make use of defective affidavits to seize the property of his prosecutorial victims.

Faced with a frontal attack on her civil and constitutional rights, Dean did what any self respecting lawyer would have done in similar circumstances. She sued for a redress of grievances, the portion of the constitution guaranteeing that right not yet having been subverted by the ambitious ear-biting Blumenthal.

"It has been crystal clear since Buckley v. Valeo,” Dean now says, “the landmark campaign finance case decided more than 30 years ago, that candidates have constitutionally-protected rights to raise and spend campaign funds. After throwing off the King of England, our founders believed that the ability of a candidate to mount an effective campaign to challenge entrenched, corrupt or disinterested officials was one of the most fundamental rights enjoyed by the people in the new democracy, and so they ensured that it was enshrined in our constitution, where no person – no matter how powerful – can subvert it.”

Filed in 2002, it has taken eight years for the suit – Dean vs. Blumenthal -- to reach the Supreme Court. It’s been a long eight years.

Attorney Robert Farr, Blumenthal’s 2006 Republican challenger, joined Dean’s suit after learning that Blumenthal’s contractual ban on contributions – the attorney general’s very own answer to “corrupt” campaign contributions -- prevented Farr’s own wife, a partner at one of the law firms under state contract, from contributing to her husband’s campaign.

Asserting it was not “clearly established” in 2002 that Dean and other candidates had a First Amendment right to raise campaign funds, an appellate court held that Blumenthal therefore was entitled to qualified immunity for his actions. Before and after 2002, the high court has asserted that fundraising falls under the protective umbrella of the First Amendment.

In a Petition for a Writ of Certiorari filed with the high court Dean is asking the Supreme Court to decide three points: whether candidates have a First Amendment right to raise campaign funds free from improper government interference; 2) whether Blumenthal’s ban was improper; and 3) whether Dean is entitled to damages. To be a valid exercise of his authority, Dean says, Blumenthal must show that his ban serves a compelling state interest and that it is narrowly tailored. "Mr. Blumenthal has no authority," Dean asserts, "to decide what is a compelling state interest or to go off on his own and write campaign finance laws into state contracts.”

Indeed, a rank whiff of contractual corruption was emitted from the attorney general’s own office when Blumenthal awarded a portion of a $900 million tobacco litigation contract to his former law partner and his law partner’s wife. The other two firms involved were the Waterbury firm that represented former Gov, John Rowland, Carmody & Torrance, and an anti trust firm in Philadelphia, Berger &Montague, apparently not politically connected to Blumenthal’s share the wealth pipeline.

Dean points out in her petition, “Since the alleged corruption involved in the tobacco contract awarded to his former partner and partner’s wife was not connected to a quid pro quo arrangement involving campaign contributions, Mr. Blumenthal’s ban cannot be said to have been designed to stop this type of gross impropriety.”

Update

WDRC Dan Lovallo's interview with Martha Dean may be accessed here: http://www.talkofconnecticut.com/includes/news_items/12/832/marthadean.mp3

Trouble posting comments?

Please let me know.

Jon Kantrowitz

jdk@queueinc.com

A word of advice from California's Willie Brown

Hi all:

I do an occasional column for the Minuteman papers in Fairfield and Westport, this week I touch upon civil service reform, as suggested by liberal icon Willie Brown of San Francisco. I'm sure you union supporters will enjoy this.

See it here:

http://minutemannewscenter.com/articles/2010/02/11/westport/opinion/op_ed/doc4b72f75134d74163600912.txt

"Both Ways" Shays At It Again

Congress or Governor?

Only In Bridgeport reports that Shays is buying a condo In Bridgeport, and also reports on Russo’s new poll, done by a notorious right-wing push polling group.

It shows Russo, a former state senator from Bridgeport with low name recognition in Connecticut’s Fourth Congressional District, running just 13 points behind Democratic incumbent Jim Himes who defeated Shays in 2008, in part on the strength of Barack Obama’s presidential tsunami in Bridgeport. The poll also showed, to measure Himes’ standing, Shays running 20 points ahead of Himes, a reflection of voter anger with Washington, were he to seek his old seat. Shays told OIB, however, if he gets back in the game it would be for governor.


So is Shays going to run for governor or for his old seat?

More poll results:

*More people approve of Jim Himes job in Congress as disapprove (Approve 36%, Disapprove 33%)

*Rob Russo has higher Name ID and performs better against Jim Himes than Dan Debicella showing the Republican Primary is wide open. (Russo name ID 23%, Debicella 14%)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Linda can see China from her office!

While zipping around Connecticut with her busload of ever alert staffers, Linda McMahon has frequently made reference to the WWE having an office in China, as if that in itself would lend itself to foreign relations experience.

Last Saturday morning she made the error of mentioning the World Wrestling Entertainment office in Shanghai, in front of someone who actually knows something about China and speaks fluent Mandarin.

video
Link to YouTube Video here.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Medicare spending rose an OUTRAGEOUS 5% !eleventy!!one!!!

That is according to the CBO:

Adjusted for timing shifts, Medicare spending rose by $7 billion (or 5 percent).
Of course this is reason to be outraged at all that government spending coming out of our pockets, right? Right? Thankfully those fiscally responsible Republicans have come up with the great idea of privatizing Medicare.
Rep. Paul Ryan self-destructively wants to destroy Medicare and Social Security:
He's shilling for Wall Street yet again as he usually does. He wants to privatize medicare and social security although he uses words like "vouchers" to mask what he's saying.
While I understand that pointing out a fact like that is called "attacking" their favoritest Republicans evah - and their "ideas" - by some defenders of the magic free market faerie dust. And as a moderate liberal I have grown used to the reality of their victim card being pulled out every time they are so wrong it is almost embarrassing to enjoin them in debate... But for now, let us look at how Medicare compares to St. Ronny's vaunted "free market", the free market that Rep. Ryan wants you to turn to solve all of our problems:
The AFL-CIO calls out Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, which has requested a rate hike of up to 30 percent in Connecticut, for example, while spending more than $9.5 million on lobbying activities. Similarly, UnitedHealthcare recently proposed a premium increase for its Medicare supplemental insurance while spending more than $2.6 million on lobbying activities in the first half of 2009 alone.
Golly... You mean under the Republican healthcare plan people could get off of Medicare's outrageous 5% increases in costs and have the privilege of joining the Free Market's 30% increases? And double their pleasure by giving Corporate Welfare "vouchers" to the very people that cause 99% of the problems in American healthcare?
The age of eligibility for Medicare would increase incrementally from 65 (for people born before 1956), as it is under current law, to 69 years and 6 months for people born in 2022 and later. Starting in 2021, new enrollees would no longer receive coverage through the current program but, instead, would be given a voucher with which to purchase private health insurance.
Vouchers for that good old free market 30% increase per year in rates healthcare. And that doesn't even include the increase in Co-Pays... Just the rate.

It is all very nice to claim the government will save money in your Republican plan... But the reality is that it will save taxpayers a few measly pennies in taxes and cost them BIG DOLLARS in the free market to replace their plan. And the reality is that a lot of the government programs that faux-conservatives rant and rail about in the name of fiscal responsibility are pretty darn good government programs and they already are the real answers to being fiscally responsible.

But they are not the Corporate Welfare you are advocating for.

Let's put these to the voters and see how much they love your ideas, OK? While I come up with my sides' slogans for our bumper stickers... Here is the one for the GOP:



Yep! I even gave you a head start in your campaign.

Of course, those of you that do support this Corporate Welfare as your cause célèbre du jour for the GOP, those of you that are the fringiest Republicans and the Teabagrrrrs in the minority of the minority GOP party, can you please do us all a favor?

Get your own Connecticut GOP candidates on the record concerning where they stand on this. Are they with you or against you? "Vouchers" for your insanity or not?

Because when you do and no matter what they answer, we win.

Media Destroyer

Rep. Barney Frank destroys the right wing echo chamber:



angrybear destroys Rep. Shelby and the right wing cheese eating media:
Shelby single-handedly decided to hold the Federal Government hostage so that a U.S. military contract would be awarded to a foreign country, worse yet that country is France. But don't expect that to be the lead at Fox, even the stories in the rest of the MSM seem oddly resistant to putting the words "European" or "Airbus" into their stories. Might make a Republican look bad or something, maybe even unpatriotic. Have the Teabaggers caught wind of this yet?
Sen. Al Franken destroys the rudderless ship:
Sen. Al Franken ripped into White House senior adviser David Axelrod this week during a tense, closed-door session with Senate Democrats.

Five sources who were in the room tell POLITICO that Franken criticized Axelrod for the administration’s failure to provide clarity or direction on health care and the other big bills it wants Congress to enact.
The sources said Franken was the most outspoken senator in the meeting, which followed President Barack Obama’s question-and-answer session with Senate Democrats at the Newseum on Wednesday. But they also said the Minnesotan wasn’t the only angry Democrat in the room.
Rep. Anthony Weiner destroys Lieberman (and would destroy Bloomberg):
JON STEWART: "My question to you is this. Is he a dick?"
REP. ANTHONY WEINER: "Yes, Jon."

Some post appropriate music to surf by as you continue on:



Rep. Paul Ryan self-destructively wants to destroy Medicare and Social Security:
He's shilling for Wall Street yet again as he usually does. He wants to privatize medicare and social security although he uses words like "vouchers" to mask what he's saying.
Jon Stewart Destroyed the sexxy side of the left Blogoshere:
Jon Stewart took a shot a Raw Story and several other websites for hyperbolic headlines Thursday. The Daily Show featured our story titled "Stewart destroys Hannity for a second night this week" as an example of how blogs sex up their stories to get clicks.
Stewart appeared as a guest on Bill O'Reilly's Fox News show Wednesday and Thursday nights but the Comedy Central host didn't understand how that was possible since The Huffington Post had already declared that he had "destroyed" the Fox News Channel just a few weeks before.
Clearly, Raw story has not a clue about sexxing up headlines when compared to HuffPo but since we, along with the entirety of Blogtopia, have been targeted for destruction by the comedic terrorism and mad-genius of Jon Stewart's Wit of Media Delivery, here are some echoing thoughts from another place I Blog, ePluribus Media, before it all disappears:
Or you can visit News Corpse - The Internet's Chronicle of Media Decay.

Monday, February 8, 2010

OMG, Yankee Did It

The Yankee Institute, the premier conservative-libertarian think tank in Connecticut, has provided a new tool – a web Sherlock Holmes that allows political watchdogs to monitor spending in the state – that will make it less possible for entrenched politicians to fool all the people all the time.

The website, titled appropriately CTSunlight.org, is “an electronic tool constructed by the Yankee Institute for Public Policy – so that the citizens of Connecticut can look at every line item of state government spending and discover how OUR tax dollars are being spent by the people in Hartford.”

The site provides three windows – Payroll, Pensions, and Checks to Businesses & People – that allows concerned citizens, reporters and politicians to view every dollar spent by state taxing authorities in Connecticut.




And, yes, you can find out how much Joe Blow, now retired from Three Rivers Community College, makes per year in his retirement pension, or how much Jim Amann (“position not disclosed”) makes in annual salary.

Happy hunting, and have fun. They're YOUR tax dollars.

Monday Open House

A brief survey of the CT political world:


1. Former CTLP stalwart Heath has begun his new stint at CT News Junkie with an essay calling for outsourcing of government function to save money.


2. Jon Pelto and Sal Luciano offer their perspectives on the fiscal crunch. Jon's is more creative, to say the least.

3. Susan Bysiewicz engenders even more controversy with an e-mail list from her own office.

Malloy Attempts to Generate Some Heat Among Democratic Exploring Candidates

Exploring Democratic Gubernatorial candidate Dan Malloy has called out his fellow Democratic Exploring Candidate Ned Lamont for his opposition to paid sick leave for Connecticut employees. (I hope these guys and gals stop exploring and start running soon.)

Malloy said Ned Lamont, who in an interview published online today said he is against paid sick days, “doesn’t get it.”

“There are certain basic rights that should be afforded to any working person in Connecticut, and paid sick leave is certainly among them,” said Malloy. “It’s wrong that we would penalize workers – salaried or on hourly wage – for being ill. A person should not have to worry about missing a rent check or a mortgage payment because they catch the flu.”

“Ned doesn’t get it. Ned says he thinks ‘…we deal with sick leave just fine at the small-business level where I live.’ But that’s the problem: most people don’t live in that world. Ned’s statement shows just how disconnected he is from the concerns of the average working person in Connecticut.”


In an interview with the CT Mirror that was posted today, February 8, 2010, Lamont is quoted:
"I think we deal with sick leave just fine at the small-business level where I live. I'm not sure I need the government stepping in and putting another mandate on businesses like mine," he said. "I do believe it sort of sends the wrong signal out there at a time when we have a very high unemployment rate, and I'm doing everything as a candidate for governor to recruit, to expand job creation in our state."


Malloy contends that there are better ways to improve the business climate without forcing people to go to work sick. According to Malloy “Connecticut needs to lower energy costs, provide smart tax incentives that reward businesses that create jobs, and fix our health care system to help small businesses lower their overhead. And we can do these things, and more. But we don’t have to force sick people to go to work.”

Can Malloy show policy and leadership differences with Lamont that will overcome the obvious fact that Lamont is able to fund his own campaign and match the most likely Republican challenger who is also able to fund his own campaign? Does the voting public really want their gubernatorial choice to be between two Greenwich millionaires?

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Waltzing Towards Bankruptcy

“I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”

These lines from “The Road Less Taken,” a poem by Robert Frost, should be seriously studied by everyone in the state legislature as well as the new incoming governor, whoever it may be. The outgoing Governor Jodi Rell’s State of the State address, followed by the usual accommodating do nothing solutions, was her way of saying to the opposition in the legislature: You’ve made your bed, now lay in it.

It is a bed of nails.

The best guess, from serious commentators on Connecticut politics, is that no one will heed the stern warning in the Frost poem. Some men and women learn by rigorous thought and precept. The heedless and inattentive, handed over to the rough and unforgiving hands of experience, are mauled.

They learn by their lumps.

The wayfarer in the Frost poem makes his choice and keeps in mind the path not chosen for another day:

“Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.”

Wise wayfarer.

Life imitates poetry: Some choices are serious and determine the path of men and states. It looks like Connecticut – which is to say, the governor and the men and women in the legislature, as well as other important political actors – have chosen their and our path.

It is a path leading to bankrupted California rather than Texas, a state whose future is considerably brighter. Both California and Texas are burdened with debt, largely because national legislators and presidents chose a path through a Beltway inspired recession that has led to massive taxpayer payouts, unsupportable deficits, chronic job losses and a potential crippling period of high inflation, still in the offing.

Texas may more easily survive the downturn than California because, among other reasons, it has a part time legislature, no income tax and has shown U.S. industries, international bankers and money movers that it “gets” the message in Frost’s poem.

Connecticut adopted in 1991 an income tax that legislators this year made more progressive. Like California, our legislators will be asking mini-millionaires to pay more of their “fair share.” Connecticut has the largest per capita debt in the country, larger than California, no rainy day fund -- we spent it all -- and a $500 million deficit carried over from the last budget fandango between the governor and a willfully blind and spendthrift legislature. The state’s unfunded liability is $57.8 billion, and coming round the corner at us is another deficit of about three billion.

The road Connecticut has taken through the darksome glen is the one more taken.

Responsible Democrats have said Connecticut’s debt is unsustainable. To meet the debt, Democrats in mid-January proposed a blue ribbon commission to suggest ways the legislature might crawl out of the deficit hole fashioned by legislative leaders Speaker of the House Chris Dovovan and President Pro Tem of the Senate Don Williams.

As a practical matter, the commission would increase from 2, the legislative “leaders” named above, to 45 the number of people who will decide to do little or nothing in the way of cutting state spending. There will be no diffident Republicans sitting on the Democratic Blue Ribbon Commission. The real purpose of the partisan commission is to provide cover to soften the boot in the bottom Dovovan and Williams so richly deserve from voters whose pockets soon will be empty.

Taking a leaf from the Democratic playbook, Rell has proposed her own commission, possibly less partisan. And this commission has been criticized by some Democrats as unnecessary, since the state has a brilliant legislature to make the hard choices.

So far, the hard choices made by Connecticut Democrats and the departing governor have entailed, depleting the rainy day fund, gratefully accepting so called “stimulus” funding plucked from the jobs tree the very nearly veto-proof national Democratic legislature has planted on the White House lawn, securitizing Connecticut’s debt through bonding anchored by a tax on electric energy consumption, and spurning spending cuts that might impact unionized state government workers who walk state Democratic leaders on a short leash every morning, afternoon and evening.

And so the fiddling goes, while Connecticut burns.