Saturday, July 31, 2010

I'm For Rob Simmons


I was already prepared to endorse Rob Simmons in the Republican primary for Governor, based not only on his record as a moderate, pro-choice Republican congressman, despite his unfortunate and discontinued dalliance with the Tea Partiers, but also on the total lack of qualifications of his opponents.

But now he has sealed the deal, advocating for an almost complete withdrawal of our troops from Afghanistan:

Video is from Paul Bass, New Haven Independent, a great on-line newspaper which I read every day.

What courage, what common sense, what integrity! Honestly, if he wins the primary I will be in a real quandary in the general election - that's how important this issue is to me.

Republican Primaries - The Gift That Keeps On Giving


Thanks Mike!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Schiff Attacks McMahon


Again, my favorite - one Republican attacking another - as a liberal of all things. (Don't you just love the reference to the "Democrat"convention? Why has it become de rigeur for Republican conservatives to treat the other party with such disrespect as to not even get its name right?)

Thursday, July 29, 2010

CPR Without Mouth-to-Mouth Rescue Breathing May Be Better for Many Victims of Cardiac Arrest; Chest Compressions Alone Save More Lives


A leading expert in cardiopulmonary resuscitation says two new studies from U.S. and European researchers support the case for dropping mouth-to-mouth, or rescue breathing by bystanders and using "hands-only" chest compressions during the life-saving practice, better known as CPR.

The findings, the expert says, concur with the latest science advisory statement from the American Heart Association (AHA), published in 2008, recommending hands-only (or compression-only) CPR by bystanders who are not adequately trained or who feel uncomfortable with performing rescue breathing on other adults who collapse from sudden cardiac arrest.

In an editorial accompanying the studies, to be published in the New England Journal of Medicine online July 29, cardiologist Myron "Mike" Weisfeldt, M.D., physician in chief at The Johns Hopkins Hospital and director of the Department of Medicine at Hopkins' School of Medicine, says "less may be better" in CPR, calling the findings straightforward, practical and potentially life-saving.

The two studies were conducted between 2004 and 2009 on more than 3,000 men and women who needed CPR. Among their key findings are that survival rates were similar for adults who received their CPR from bystanders randomly assigned to provide only chest compressions and those who were instructed to do standard CPR with rescue breathing. All bystanders involved in the studies were instructed by phone on which CPR method to use by 911 telephone dispatchers. One study showed survival rates after one month of 8.7 percent and 7 percent, respectively, while the other showed survival rates at time of hospital discharge of 12.5 percent and 11 percent. The researchers say the numbers were statistically the same.

"It is very important to understand that the patients in this study were adults and that for most children who suffer cardiac arrest, such as drowning victims, we must do rescue breathing," says Weisfeldt, a past president of the AHA (1989-1990).

He also notes that there are adults with breathing-related causes of sudden death where rescue breathing should be performed, including patients with sudden, acute heart failure, severe chronic lung disease, or acute asthma, and cardiac arrest.

However, says Weisfeldt, "for people who are not well trained or who are looking for a simple way to help save a life, chest compressions only, at least until the emergency care unit arrives, can be life saving, even without rescue breathing."

Weisfeldt says the studies' results could lead to stronger national guidelines on how bystanders should perform CPR. An update is expected to be announced in November in Chicago at an AHA annual meeting. Guidelines, he says, will likely recommend a steady 100 chest compressions per minute with less emphasis on rescue breathing.

Weisfeldt points out that both recent studies and previous animal studies had shown that hands-only CPR worked best for certain types of cardiac arrest, mostly instances resulting from an abnormal heart rhythm (and requiring defibrillation).

CPR has been in practice in the United States since 1960, when Johns Hopkins researchers William Kouwenhoven, Ph.D., Guy Knickerbocker, Ph.D., and James Jude, M.D., published the first data on the benefits of what was then called "cardiac massage."

Weisfeldt says further research is needed to see if a combination of CPR with rescue breathing is better at saving lives in certain kinds of cardiac arrest, and to see how and if the public can be trained to recognize and distinguish between types of heart attack.

A third of the estimated 300,000 Americans each year whose heart suddenly stops beating outside of a hospital receive CPR to keep blood and oxygen flowing to the body's vital organs in the torso until emergency services personnel arrive. CPR performed by good Samaritans is known to nearly double the survival chances of people who suffer sudden cardiac arrest.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Fedele Attacks Foley


As much as I hate to see Democrats attacking each other, I love it when Republicans do:

Blumenthal Inattentive To The Rules Of Evidence

The case against Dr. Gad Lavy, who runs the New England Fertility Institute in Stamford, began with a resounding bang but ended with a whimper.

Attorney General Richard Blumenthal announced his suit against Levy five years ago. The sensational press release, picked up by the usual media outlets that rarely follow a contested case through its tortuous litigatory permutations, certainly was blow to Dr. Lavy’s solar plexus.

After the charges against him were dismissed, a relieved Dr. Levy said, “"This case was baseless from the beginning. It hurt me, my family, and my patients. I was pleased the Attorney General dropped the case, but it should not have taken 5 years to do so."

The initial media release contained specimens of Blumenthal regular potboiler rhetoric. Blumenthal accused the doctor of having charged a $600 facility fee to his patients when the doctor at the same time was collecting from his insurance carrier the same amount for the same purpose.

“This doctor,” Blumenthal charged in his media release, “imposed special fees to give himself special compensation, while falsely promising special care… In reality, these 'facility fees' were a false front - a scheme to pad his own profits… Imposing special payments for parenthood is unconscionable and unlawful, and now, Dr. Lavy will pay in court."

First the verdict, says the Queen of Hearts in Louis Carroll’s “Alice In Wonderland, “then the trial.”

Blumenthal’s case against Lavy, Ted Mann tells us in a carefully researched and well written piece that appeared in the Day of New London, fell apart like brittle old lace once Dr. Levy had his day in court.

On the stand was Kimberly M. Walsh, an executive from Connecticare, Lavy’s insurer, and she was being questioned by assistant attorney general Charles C. Hulin, the lead attorney for the state. Hulin had asked Walsh whether her company’s reimbursements would include a payment for the use of the doctor’s surgical facility. The question was an important one, because the state was alleging that Lavy charged just such fees to 355 female patients, sometimes for multiple procedures, totaling nearly $350,000.

The doctor’s attorney, Ross Garber, who is running this year for attorney general as a Republican, entered an objection: Blumenthal’s staff, he said, should have provided to the court the insurance contracts for each patient, which would verify that the cost was or was not a covered expense. The court should have had an opportunity to view the contracts and base its decision on primary documents; it should not make its decision based on hearsay testimony taken from witnesses who may or may not be familiar with the terms of the contracts.

Garber pointed out that in relying upon the uncertain testimony of witnesses rather than the primary documents, Blumenthal’s agents would be in violation of Article 10 of the rules of evidence, which hold that the contents of a document are proven by the document itself – not by a witness’s recollection of their contents. Judge Miller agreed with Garber that a reliance on the testimony of witnesses, rather than the contracts themselves, would violate Article 10 of the rules of evidence, which requires that the contents of a document are proven by the document itself - not what witnesses say it contains.

The judge turned to the assistant attorney general and asked, steel creeping into his voice, “"Let me ask you a very blunt question. Where are the managed care plans?"

The assistant attorney general hadn’t thought it necessary to produce them. He saw in the judge’s remark the caboose arriving and begged the court for a 30 day stay to gather documents that would comport with Article 10 of the rules of evidence, at which point there occurred this colloquy:

Judge Miller: "Well, the case has been pending since 2005.”

Hulin: “That's right. We think you're going to see eventually that we have a strong case and that we have … "

Judge Miller: (Interrupting) “Wasn't the time to show the court you had a strong case now?”

In his final decision, Judge Miller strongly rebuked Blumenthal’s office: “"When a party comes to court unprepared to address an important evidentiary issue which it well knew would be disputed at trial, and that party fails to prevail on the issue, the trial judge does not stop the proceedings and give the losing party time to correct the mistake. That is not how things work in our system of justice."

And Blumenthal dropped the case, deciding wisely not to appeal the court’s judgment until the stars drop from heaven, the usual recourse taken by his office.

Blumenthal’s office has pending, according to the attorney general’s most recent financial report, more than 36,000 cases. Perhaps the overload has fried the synapse of Blumenthal’s dozen or more litigators. It’s astonishing: Ignoring the basic rules of evidence is a little bit like ignoring icebergs on the high sea. It takes a titanic sized ego to do it. Judge Miller, among other members of the judiciary, is not unfamiliar with Blumenthal’s sometimes questionable methods, which include the presentation of defective affidavits in ex parte proceedings, on the basis of which judges authorize Blumenthal’s agents to impound company assets, leaving his hapless victims, already mutilated in searing media releases, unable to procure the services of competent lawyers such as Ross Garber.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Mommy, Where Do Stories Come From?

To be just and honest, the noble ambition of credible journalism, it should be said up front that Tom Foley does not, or rather did not, beat his wife; neither is Ned Lamont a racist.

That is the undeclared imputation in two recent stories: one involving Foley, the Republican Party nominee for governor, and the other involving Lamont, now locked in a primary battle with former Mayor of Stamford Dan Malloy.

In the quarter decade old Foley story, the perp momentarily blocked his wife from leaving a driveway and disputed with her through a couple of stop signs, after which both were arrested. The matter was settled privately, charges were dropped, and the details of the case were not shared with the news media. A messy divorce is no walk through a rose garden, especially when the two former lovebirds quarrel over visitation procedures involving a young child.

The Foley story is, relatively speaking, old and hoary; the Lamont story is somewhat fresher.

Lamont, according to this one, was sued in 2002 by an African American fellow, an executive in the Delaware corporate offices of Lamont Digital Systems who felt, according to a Courant story, that he had been “’maliciously” fired after being denied stock, bonuses and commissions from sales activities.”

The African American fellow, asserting he was let go for racial reasons, figured the matter could have been righted if Lamont kindly surrendered to him a million dollars. The suit was settled privately in 2003; which is to say, the particulars of the dispute were not shared with the news media. The “secret” arrangements in both cases were secret because the principals involved declined to share their pain with the world, and the arrangements made satisfied all the parties involved, as well as the adjudicating authority.

But there is something about a secret that journalists do not love, particularly when it is held close to the chests of people who want to govern states.

Both stories, now in the public domain, have caused frayed relations between the three Republicans and two Democrats vying for governor because no one but the reporter who first released the information knows its provenance, and he is not likely to blow his sources to settle quarrels bubbling up in the Republican and Democratic gubernatorial camps. Reporters are generally circumspect and overly protective concerning their sources. The one piece of information flowing out of Watergate that remained a mystery for years after ex-President Nixon was tucked safely beneath the sod was – who was “Deepthroat?” Eventually, “Deepthroat” outted himself. Had he not done so, the world even now might be turning over in its mind the dread suspicion that it was Henry Kissinger who killed Cock Robin.

Both stories cited above are invitations to probe the general question: Does it matter where political dirt comes from?

To historians, who are sticklers for facts, the source of information always matters. And certainly the person whose ribs are poked with the knife would dearly like to have his curiosity appeased. But in journalism, a source is not likely to be revealed by the journalist unless the stream of information provided is false or malicious or directly intended to poison the political well – in which case, it matters a great deal where the information comes from. Presumably, the responsible journalist will have checked other reliable sources before he releases the politically damaging information. Even in dire circumstances, a journalist whose well has been poisoned by a bad source still may be reluctant to name names.

Why so?

Because he does not want to interrupt the flow of information coming his way from a source who would be unwilling to disgorge raw untested truth if it were certain that his anonymity could not be guaranteed by the journalist. As in a war, a great deal of raw political information comes from opposing political camps, but it does not follow that because candidate X has loosed the sluice gates on candidate Y, the information provided is, for that reason, unusable. Even the blackest lie carries within itself a grain of truth that, planted in terra firma, may, like the biblical mustard seed, though it is the smallest of seeds, grow into a tree large enough to provide in its spreading branches a home for all the chirping birds of the air.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Merrill Or Farrell

Ray Hackett, the Norwich Bulletin’s editorial page editor, has lost patience with Denise Merrill, the Democratic Assistant Majority Leader in the state House of Representatives who is leaving her position to run for Secretary of State.

“She came in last week,” Hackett wrote in a barbed editorial, “for an editorial board meeting for candidates in the Aug. 10 primary. I expected her to dance around or avoid any accountability for the state’s fiscal mess. I was flabbergasted by her unbridled arrogance — arrogance that is only surpassed by the depth of the debt — $3.5 billion — that she had a hand in creating.”

Hackett was astonished when Merrill blamed the $3.5 billion state debt “she had a hand in creating” on George Bush – “I kid you not.” Trumpeting the Democratic Party line, Merrill claimed that Democratic lawmakers “’cut’ $8 billion over a two-year period from the state budget. But when we asked her where those cuts were made, her response was: ‘I don’t know.’”

Two kickers make the interview astonishingly newsworthy.

Appealing to her practical experience – Merrill has 18 years in the General Assembly, four of those years as chairman of the Appropriations Committee, the last two as Majority Leader in the Democratic dominated legislature – the Norwich Bulletin editorial board asked what recommendations she would offer to resolve the state’s crippling debt?

Hackett records her frigid response:

““That’s not my problem; I’m running for secretary of the state. I’m out of there. That’s for the next administration and legislature to resolve.”
In her maiden campaign announcement last July, Merrill described Connecticut’s clean campaign finance law as the “seminal accomplishment of our state in the last decade.” Turning to questions relevant to the Secretary of State position Merrill hopes to occupy, the candidate interviewing for the paper’s endorsement was asked a series of questions concerning certain disparities in the state’s public financing law.

The law treats third party and petitioning candidates different than Democrats and Republicans. Is this fair? Merrill answered “Yes.” She was presented with a hypothetical question: If someone were to run against her as a petitioning candidate, would she think she was better than her opponent just because she was a Democrat? According to Hackett, Merrill answered affirmatively because “as a Democrat, she represented more people” than the petitioning candidate.

There are straws that will break the strongest camel’s back. Hackett writes:

“I asked her to explain the logic behind allowing incumbents with no opponents to get public financing for campaigns that can’t lose. She said that, too, was fair because they ‘might’ get an opponent. I suggested why not wait until that happens. She said, ‘There wouldn’t be enough time (for the incumbent) to spend it all.’

“I said: ‘That’s the most insane logic I’ve ever heard.’ She didn’t care.

“This is the woman who wants to be the state’s next chief elections officer.”
Asked to respond to Merrill’s Bulletin endorsement interview, Jerry Farrell, the present Consumer Protection Commissioner running as a Republican for Secretary of State, said he had read the article and was “astounded at her comments, though her comments to the Bulletin seem very much an extension of what she said at a forum at the Hartford Public Library a few weeks ago.”

State government has played a direct roll in creating the state’s present financial difficulties, Farrell said:

“The State needs to get its fiscal house in order - by spending less, finding efficiencies, slashing unfunded liabilities and debt - if we want to attract businesses and get our residents jobs. Unfortunately, Denise Merrill believes that throwing money at every problem is the only solution; she just doesn't understand the damage she has done as Majority Leader to the people in this state. Her comments along the campaign trail confirm that, if elected Secretary, she will find more ways to tax and burden the people of Connecticut and spend us and our children into more debt.This is the exact opposite of what Connecticut needs.”
Farrell has made cost saving economies in his own Consumer Protection department that have served as a template for other departments. His cost saving initiative serve as the center joist of his standard stump speech:

“Just this past year, DCP saved $750,000 in printing costs by posting forms and brochures online, where a consumer can go and print exactly what they need. By this fall, we will also be emailing most licenses to the licensee - as a jpeg that the licensee can print out at home - saving $250,000 in postage. I have also opened DCP's online licensing functions to other state departments; so far the Department of Public Health, the Department of Agriculture, and the Charities Bureau, have taken advantage of this, instead of spending the millions of dollars that had been proposed to create their own online licensing systems. Given that the Secretary of State has a constitutional duty under our state constitution to be the chief "record keeper" for state government, I will use that constitutional duty to work with all state agencies to do the very same things I have done at Consumer Protection - going online and going as paperless as possible. People forget how much cost there is to a "paper bound" government - real quantifiable costs in purchasing paper, printing brochures, and postage. As Ronald Reagan once said, a million here, a million there - it all adds up. I will work to find those millions and give them back to the taxpayers of our state.”
The best stimulus, Reagan would have agreed, is a tax uncollected, and the less a government spends, the less often it must burden wealth producers with charges that quickly become someone else’s problem.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Creating an Atmosphere for Job Creation vs Creating Actual Jobs

The Malloy Campaign has released two fact sheets entitled "Lamont Job Facts" and "Malloy Job Facts" that compare the two candidates in the "job creation" category.

From the "Malloy job facts: sheet"


• Joseph J. McGee, Vice President for Public Policy and Programs at the Business Council of Fairfield County, said that Malloy's job claims are, if anything, understated. In regard to the UBS and RBS deals that brought thousands of jobs to Stamford, McGee said Dan Malloy was “very involved in making it work” and that “those two companies alone are 7,000 jobs. That's indisputable." SOURCE

• In addition to the thousands of jobs created at RBS and UBS, many other companies brought jobs to Stamford. Companies like Purdue Pharma, Bank of Ireland, Jeffries, Thomson Reuters, Fuji, NBC, Starwood Hotels & Resorts, Carol Lee, Aon Insurance, Greenwich Associates, Lloyds of London, NBC, Rockefeller & Co., Unilever, Columbus Circle Investors, Burlington Coat Factory, Modells, Hampton Inn, Rochdale Securities, Gartner Group, and more. As a result, small and medium sized businesses across the city flourished from the increase in people working in Stamford. Everything from restaurants and small shops to convenience stores, dry cleaners, parking garages, building maintenance and landscaping.

• To be clear (as Dan has always been), jobs were created in Stamford, and yes, jobs were lost. Every day in every city in every state across the country jobs are created and lost. Dan has always been very clear about what he says: he helped create an environment that resulted in almost 5,000 new jobs being created. And as experts like Joe McGee attest, that number might actually be higher. But is Stamford subject to the same basic principles of economic activity that impact economies in other cities and states? Of course. The fact is that through ups and downs, good economic times and bad, Dan Malloy went out and actively recruited thousands of new jobs into Stamford.

and from the "Lamont job facts" sheet:

Ned Lamont’s Business Record

FACT: Ned Lamont has reduced the workforce at Lamont Digital from a high of 125 employees (SOURCE) to only three dozen (SOURCE), a decrease of more than 70 percent.

FACT: Only 8 of the remaining three dozen employees actually work in Connecticut. (SOURCE)

FACT: Despite reducing the size of his workforce, Lamont has paid himself a salary of more than half a million dollars as CEO (SOURCE).

FACT: Although his company never had more than 125 employees and has shrunk to a few dozen, Ned Lamont has repeatedly and purposefully embellished his record as CEO:

The Malloy campaign is pointing out that Malloy has experience in creating an environment to encourage job creation while Lamont has the experience of creating a small number of jobs. This takes nothing away from Lamont's accomplishment of building a successful business but notes that there is a difference between creating jobs and creating an atmosphere to encourage others to create jobs, whether it is recruiting new companies to the state or providing the climate that permit existing business to expand their business.

The Democratic Voter on August 10, 2010 will have to decide which leader is right for Connecticut.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Simmons' Zombie Campaign: It's Dead - It Lives!


Rasmussen reports that Rob Simmons is running almost neck and neck with Linda McMahon against Dick Blumenthal, despite the fact that Rob suspended his campaign and Linda has spent $20 million on hers:

Blumenthal.. 53% support to Linda McMahon’s 40%...Blumenthal picks up 52% of the vote in a matchup with Simmons who earns 38%. Blumenthal held a similar 50% to 39% lead over Simmons in May in the final survey before the latter dropped out of the race.

The Quinnipiac poll found the same thing: Blumenthal - McMahon 54-37, Blumenthal - Simmons 55-35.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Real Millionaires And Their Support Staff

Over the course of her congressional campaign, Republican Linda McMahon boasted that she was willing to sink $50 million into her bid for the U.S. Senate. The tribunes of the people immediately drew their swords. McMahon, it was said in scores of editorials and commentary pieces, was attempting to buy a seat in the congress.

The outrage directed by the Main Stream Media at McMahon, whose opponent is also a millionaire – present Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, the MSM’s anointed candidate for Sen. Chris Dodd’s seat -- has not been poured upon the heads of Democratic contestants in the state’s congressional delegation, even though CTMirror has provided unimpeachable proof that Democratic incumbents, not their impoverished Republican challengers, are the real millionaires.

Republican challengers hoping that the anti-millionaire animus directed at McMahon will now be focused laser-like on their rich and greedy Democratic opponents had better not hold their breath waiting for such as Rick Green and Colin McEnroe of the Courant -- not to cite other too numerous to mention cracker-jack liberals in Connecticut’s one-way media -- to direct their outrage at their favored Democrats.

Better just to swallow the pain of injustice and get along without these disingenuous, hypocritical, partisan liberal sons of thunder in their corner.

"Reefer Madness"


There's nothing better than two pot-smoking right wing Republicans with arrest records attacking each other, is there?

The Connecticut Post has the story:

Reefer madness grips GOP congressional race

Republican Rob Merkle, of Norwalk, who is challenging two other candidates in an August primary to run for U.S. Congress, said a video making fun of his arrest 10 years ago on marijuana charges is over the line and distracts voters from real issues.

Here's the video:

There's more from the Post:

Merkle said the video borders on libel, and he said this kind of political trickery is part of the reason so many people are turned off by politics. He said opponents have also gone after him over his 19-year-old daughter, whom he had out of wedlock. He said he paid child support for the daughter, who is now in college.

"It's a personal issue. Nobody has any business digging into my family," he said.

Torres was incredulous at that reaction.

"Everything is fair game," Torres said. "People want to know the character of a person..."

He also confirmed he has smoked marijuana, but the last time he did it was in college at age 23. He said he thinks the age at which Merkle was arrested is a valid campaign issue. Once someone is in their 30s, the time for youthful indiscretions is over, Torres said.

Torres has also been arrested twice, but both cases were thrown out. He noted his mistakes are well-known and that he's answered questions about them. Like Merkle, Torres said he's learned from his mistakes.

and from Wilton Patch:

(Merkle) said it is hypocritical for Torres to focus on this issue since Torres wants to legalize drugs.

"He needs to look at his own record and his own arrest record," Merkle said referring to Torres' arrest for bad checks.

And again from the Wilton Patch:

GOP candidate Rick Torres of Bridgeport said his opponent Republican Rob Merkle should be prohibited from running for Congress.

Torres said Merkle's voting record, or lack thereof, means he doesn't deserve to hold elected office. He maintains that Merkle has only voted twice in his life.

Unfortunately, neither of these is likely to be the Republican candidate in the 4th - but one can only hope, can't one?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Confederacy of Dunces Revisited

While Lieutenant Governor Michael Fedele was savoring his court victory over Republican gubernatorial nominee Tom Foley, a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit was sawing off the limb he was sitting on.

The court struck down the “trigger provision” of Connecticut’s campaign finance system, a devise that awards extra public funds to candidates running against opponents not participating in the system who spend more than the system’s limits

Meanwhile, in a Connecticut court, Judge Julia Aurigemma has decided that Fedele’s view of a Connecticut statute which, in the not so humble opinion of this writer and an apprehensive U.S. Supreme Court, violates the Constitution is the correct one. In writing the Connecticut statute that violates the U.S. Constitution, the judge ruled, the legislature DID envision the possibility of two clever politicians bundling their contributions so that they may steer their skiff around a restriction limiting the amount of money they can accept as a legitimate campaign offering.

To put the matter briefly: All this litigatory nonsense is nonsense because McCain-Feingold and its myriad spawn is unconstitutional, and it is only a matter of time before an enlightened Supreme Court chucks the whole business as a impudent violation of the First Amendment.

But courts tend to disassemble unconstitutional structures brick by brink. “Time, there will be time,” says the poet:

“Time for visions and revision
That time will soon erase.”

The New York court said: No, you can’t deprive a candidate for office of his free speech rights. Money, most especially money used by private citizens to finance their own campaigns, as countless editorialists remind us daily, talks; therefore, it falls under the umbrella protections of the First Amendment. The court ruled that campaign contributions by lobbyists were acceptable; it also found that the so call “top off” provision of most campaign regulatory schemes was unconstitutional. Both rulings will reset the campaign contribution playing field in a way unacceptable to the levelers among us who hope to eliminate all advantages in pretty nearly every department of life.

To translate this into Connecticut terms, the New York Court ruled that Fedele cannot offset ALL the private money Foley pumps into his campaign with taxpayer generated “contributions.” The quotes imprisoning “contributions” are necessary because there ain’t no such animal as a tax “contribution.” All taxes are appropriated by force under threat of imprisonment, even that portion that some plucked citizens “agree” shall go to generic politicians.

So then, Fedele is constitutionally incapable of evening out the money spent by Foley through the Rube Goldberg mechanism the state legislature has created to “level” the campaign contribution playing field. The quotes imprisoning the word “level” are necessary here because – even if some constitutional devise could be found to “equalize” contributions between incumbents and challengers, the incumbent will never-the-less enjoy offsetting advantages, too numerous to mention here, that tilt the election playing field – life is so unfair – so as to accomplish his nefarious purposes.

At this point, no one can say for certain where all this judicial and legislative nonsense will end. It probably would have been much saner, and more effective, to scrap McCain-Feingold and steer all campaign contributions anonymously through party mechanisms. The contributions would in this way arrive at the door of an incumbent or a challenger masked, so that neither the incumbent nor the challenger could identify its source as originating from a PAC or a Robber Barron or a union or a patriot intent on steering his money to someone who genuflects before the Constitution.

But, you say, the routing method would assure that no challenger outside the two major parties would receive funds. Not true. The campaigner independent of the major political parties would simply have to start a party – this would be made effortless in the scheme here proposed -- and the tap would be open to him. But, you say, it’s hard to start a party.

But, I say, life is hard. At this point in our leap into a politically bleak future, my guess would be that independents, more numerous in Connecticut than either party, would be willing to donate to third parties – provided the distribution mechanism was not controlled by the usual political culprits disguised as politically disinterested citizens.

How to disguise the contributions?

Americans are an unusually inventive species: Where there’s a will, there will be a way.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Tom Foolery

Tom Folly's campaign has been attracting a lot of attention this week - none of it good.

The Connecticut Post in its front page article, Foley's Iraq experience: What's fact, what's fiction? points out that some claims on Tom Foolery's website seem exaggerated:

1. “Donning bulletproof vests, dodging rockets and mortars, and avoiding IEDs became regular parts of the routine.”

But Mr. Folly had previously downplayed the danger, said he often traveled around Baghdad without an escort and “never once ran into a situation that I considered hostile.”

2. The Foley campaign website notes Mr. Foley’s his team of 10 helped restart many businesses, rewrote commercial law and “helped restructure the banking system.”

But Mr. Foley did not oversee financial institutions such as banks and insurance companies.

The article also presents Foley's defense after he said "I don't give a shit about international law" when told it was against international law to sell an occupied country's assets.

He was not an international law expert and he didn't privatize businesses - he just created a plan to do so.

But that's just the tip of the iceberg:

His Republican opponents want to know more about his two arrests for vehicular assault.

And Foley is suing to stop his opponent Mike Fedele from getting public financing.

He even has had to deny that he beat his wife, (she had charged that he was abusive, then recanted) but could not deny that he was involved in a highly contentious custody battle that "raged in state courts for a dozen more years, including a year when he was co-chairman of a commission studying changes to the state's divorce and custody laws."

For even more background on Foley in Iraq read these posts:

Tom Foley in Iraq: The Failure of Greed

Tom Foley: “I don’t give a … about international law.”

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Democratic Contenders Just Say “No”

Democratic Party gubernatorial hopeful Ned Lamont has refused a public debate in New London with primary challenger Dan Malloy, the former mayor of Stamford.

Democratic Party nominee for the U.S. Senate Richard Blumenthal is in deep cover and shows no sign, any time soon, that he may pop out of his hidey hole to confront Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate Linda McMahon and Peter Schiff, a Republican primary opponent. In addition, Blumenthal’s senatorial campaign site is light on many pertinent campaign issues.

For instance: In a major decision, the U.S. Supreme Court recently held that the second amendment pertains to individuals rather than state militias. Does Blumenthal agree with that decision?

Some economists hold that the roll played by the Federal Reserve in boosting or lowering interest rates has distorted the market system and sent confusing signals to major lenders and investors. According to views propounded by economists who cleave to the Austrian school of economics, these distortion have created temporary booms and busts in the market place, producing “malinvestments,” the fundamental cause of our boom-bust cycles. Does Blumenthal agree with this view? Would Blumenthal agree to a debate on economic issues with his two Republican opponents prior to a primary vote, so that his economic views can be properly ventilated in advance of the primaries?

President Barack Obama has just cashiered General Stanley McKristol for incautious remarks made by the general and his staff in a left leaning publication, appointing General David Petraeus to fill the leadership void in Afghanistan. There has been great deal of resistance all along in Democratic Party ranks to both the Iraq war and the war in Afghanistan. When Obama agreed to increase troop levels in Afghanistan, he was sharply criticized by the peace wing of the Democratic Party. Some in the Republican Party believe that current troop levels are too low to sustain in Afghanistan the strategy adopted by Petraeus and employed successfully in Iraq. What is Blumenthal’s view on the matter of troop levels and announcements of time-lines for the withdrawal of troops in both theaters?

A rational discussion of such issues would more easily allow Connecticut voters to choose who may best represent the interests of the people of United States on these matters in the U.S. Senate. But in order to have a proper discussion, Blumenthal would have to make himself available for questioning in venues familiar to him as attorney general, where he faced the media and responded to important questions . Even now, as attorney general, Blumenthal permits himself to respond to issues affecting that office through his subalterns. He has not done the same as a prospective U.S. senator. If references to his activity as attorney general are boiled out of Blumenthal’s official senatorial campaign site, the remaining pap makes a very thin soup. And at this point in his campaign, even newspapers that have been exceedingly obliging to Attorney General Blumenthal are beginning to murmur darkly about Blumenthal’s motives in secreting himself from those who might be expected to vote for him as U.S. senator.

In the meantime, Lamont, taking a page from Blumenthal’s book, has refused an invitation by the New London Day to debate Dan Malloy on issues important to Connecticut, prompting Malloy to issue the following statement:

"The Day said today that they are disappointed in Ned's decision. I think it's worse than that. This debate is a tradition. It's a chance for voters to see and hear each candidate only days before heading to the polls. It's when primary voters are most tuned in and most ready to hear from candidates about their values, their experience, and their vision. And Ned Lamont is denying them that chance. What a shame.

"If this is an indication that Ned is going to refuse to meet me in any televised debate between now and the primary, I think it's an unprecedented situation. No statewide debate in the closing weeks of a campaign this important? What a shame."
Lamont has said he’d rather campaign against Malloy than debate him. No one need wonder why. Like Blumenthal, Lamont is far ahead in the polls over his challenger. When the hare is so far in advance of the tortoise in the race, he cannot be expected to pause for debates, and this is the great failing of primaries. For primaries to work properly, an honest confrontation on important views is a necessity. By avoiding the necessity, the incumbent or the leader in a primary frustrates, knowingly and purposely, the whole point of a primary, a craven acknowledgement that debates are far less important than political status.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

The Consultant Campaign

Christine Stuart of CTNewsJunkie continues to turn out prose that is readable and pertinent.

In “Lamont’s Latest Ad: Risky Or Smart?” she lifts the covers on some Democratic gubernatorial supporters, which include some old Democratic political hands: Jonathan Pelto, now in the consulting business; Bill Curry, slowly working his way out of the closet as a Ned Lamont groupie; and Roy Occhiogrosso, attached to the Dan Malloy campaign as a consultant.

The boys are cutting the cards on a new Ned Lamont ad in which Ned claims the independent mantle and even – the man’s courage knows no bounds – appropriates for himself in the ad a signature adage that once belonged to ex-senator, governor and self described “turd in the Republican Party punch bowl” Lowell Weicker.

One of the pledges Ned is making to the people of Connecticut is – “I’m going to be no man but yours.”

Not to be overly subtle, the ad is titled “Independent.” It worked for Sen. Joe Lieberman.

Good ad? Bad ad? What?

Good, says Curry: “It’s a smart ad. He’s doing the insider, outsider thing with Malloy.”

Drawing upon his own political experience – what else? -- Curry termed Weicker slogan one of the best in Connecticut history. “Do not overestimate party loyalty,” said Curry, “who lost the Democratic Party’s endorsement for governor in 1994, then won the nomination in a primary, with a similar independence theme,” Stuart notes.

It was, in fact, a politically opportune slogan for Weicker, since Democrats, then and now, far outnumbered Republicans in a state awash in Blue minded journalists. Chris Powell, one of the most “independent” newsmen in the business, then and now, was among the first to recognized that a post Watergate Weicker, while senator, had long been using his own party as a foil to curry (no pun intended) votes and favors from majority Democrats. When the Weicker-Democratic romance went a little too far, domesticated and abused Republicans revolted and put an end to their quarrelsome marriage. Democrats such as Chris Dodd – now about to exit the U.S. Senate before he turns into congressional dust – mourned the loss, but state Republicans were quite cheery about it.

The political calculus in Lamont’s case is a bit different. Unlike Weicker, Lamont is not a minority Republican but a Democratic insurgent, more independent of party politics than his primary opponent Dan Malloy. However, in order effectively to address a budget hole that has made even Weicker gag, Lamont will have to be more than independent: He will have to put himself in opposition to the spending machine that has created the largest per capita debt in the nation. And that will entail, at a minimum, a life and death struggle with unions, in Connecticut a third rail of politics that even “no man but yours” Weicker shrank from touching.

Powell, by the way, is convinced that none of the Democratic gubernatorial contenders are interested in cutting spending; certainly, party leaders in the legislature, notorious among them Speaker of the House Chris Donovan, once a union steward, are singularly uninterested in calling unions to heel. If Powell is right -- and he has been wrong far less often than Curry -- all the chatter among Democrats concerning responsible deficit reductions and permanent curbs on spending is not worth a bucket full of spit.

But the independent feint may profitably be used campaign fodder to beguile increasingly indigent taxpayers, many of whom, even establishment Democrats might agree, are in open rebellion against party power brokers.

The most amusing line on the new Lamont ad comes from Occhiogrosso, who makes no attempt to conceal his affection for Malloy: “Ned Lamont still apparently doesn’t know who he is. Now he’s trying to be Lowell Weicker. He’s fundamentally wrong in his belief the state should be run like a business. And no 60-second ad is going to change that.”

But of course!

Gubernatorial hopefuls such as Tom Foley, presently leading the Republican primary field, may think that the business of government is business, to quote President Cal Coolidge. But most Democrats in the state – quite unaware that Will Rogers was grinding his teeth when he said “The business of government is to keep government out of business, unless business needs government aid” – have long operated on the principle that the business of Democratic government is politics.

And they are very good at it.