Saturday, April 28, 2007

The Arrogance Continues

News reports this morning detail how House Speaker Jim Amann's three staff members spent 90 minutes before the Citizen's Ethics Advisory Board on Thursday, arguing that they should "abide by 20 years of precedents" allowing legislative leaders to solicit lobbyists on behalf of their employers. Amann puffed later in the day that since he would no longer solicit lobbyists on behalf of his employer, the Multiple Sclerosis Society, the defense of the practice was for the benefit of other lawmakers.

Amann dispatched former Democrat House leader Robert F. Frankel, and attorneys Laura Jordan and Christy L. Scott to argue that it's perfectly fine for the House speaker to solicit contributions to the charity that pays his salary from lobbyists who have business before him.

It is a fascinating thing to watch legislative Democrats lecture us on ethics and government reform, finger wagging with pomposity as they invoke the corruption of John Rowland, while simultaneously arguing on behalf of a corrupt practice.

John Rowland was absolutely corrupt, and he deserved to go to jail. He ended up in prison because our laws were effective. Democrats sometimes subtly, and sometimes overtly suggest that because of Rowland, corruption has Republicans origins.

I think this is an excellent opportunity to recount the recent history of legislative corruption.

State Senator Ernest Newton - DEMOCRAT: sentenced to five years in prison for accepting bribes and using campaign contributions for personal expenses. The self-proclaimed "Moses of [his] people" currently resides at Fort Dix, where he may or may not run into former Democrat Mayor of Bridgeport Joe Ganim, also serving time for corruption.

Frank DeJesus - DEMOCRAT: 2006 Candidate in the 3rd Assembly district in Hartford and ally of Mayor Perez was arrested on forgery, false statement, and falsely certifying oaths in connection with his attempts to pettition onto the ballot.

State Representative Barnaby Horton - DEMOCRAT: Paid a $10,000 fine plus given community service in connection with voter fraud in his primary against Rep. Ken Greene, trying to keep a legislative seat after his disappeared in redistricting in 2002.

State Representative Edwin Garcia - DEMOCRAT: Also a Hartford police officer, was prosecuted for accepting bribes in a food stamp scheme.

State Representative Donnie Sellers - DEMOCRAT: "I'm a politician. I ain't turning anything down" said Sellers, as he accepted a $200 bribe from a federal agent in a sting operation. Sellers offered to smooth the way for the obtaining of a pistol permit.

Can we recognize a pattern here?

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Republicans Introduce 'No Tax Increase' Budget

Perhaps it was long overdue, particularly when you think about the Rowland years, when Governor John used to triangulate legislative Republicans out of the budget process by working with Democrats to advance what sometimes amounted to a complete liberal victory.

I believe that the history of legislative Republicans supporting these terrible budgets of the past played no small part in the reality today; a mere 44 House Republicans, out of 151 members, and only 12 Senate Republicans in the 36-seat circle.

Yesterday morning,House GOP Leader Larry Cafero (R-Norwalk) and House Republicans excellently broke from failed tradition and offered an alternative budget that does not increase the state income tax, running counter to the budget offered by Democrats, and perhaps most significantly, that offered by Governor M. Jodi Rell.

It was disappointing not to see the Senate Republicans join with House Republicans. But as budget negotiations begin in earnest today, they may yet dignify themselves in this debate.

With a projected budget surplus approaching $600 million, Governor Rell and General Assembly Democrats want to raise your taxes. Of course, Speaker Jim Amann claims the Democratic budget "cuts taxes for 90% of taxpayers." That's an interesting thing for him to assert, since the Democrat budget increases taxes on individuals making $79,700 or more, and couples making over $150,000 or more; hardly the millionaires liberals keep saying they are going to get to pay their fair share. The Dem budget also reinstates the sales tax on clothing purchases under $50 (that'll definitely teach those millionaires!), not to mention the fact that it increases the business tax, the cigarette tax, the real estate conveyance tax and the funeral tax of all things. Just who does Amann expect us to believe he's "cutting taxes" for?

The House GOP budget isn't perfect. But it does some incredibly positive things. It increases school aid, and more equitably distributes ECS funds. It doesn't cut funding levels for a single thing. Most importantly, it does it without increasing taxes!

Speaker Amann is an arrogant man, unlikely to listen to the reasonable aspects of this budget. I think he ignores it at his peril. Likewise, Governor Rell has a great opportunity to return to form and go for a budget that really "gets it done." She predicted there would be a tax revolt soon. I think she's right.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Bill Curry: A Perfect Grandmother

At the zenith of his political power, Democrat Bill Curry was a silly and soft loser with a clammy handshake. I haven't decided if the fact that the Hartford Courant has given him a weekly column serves as the coda of a dismal political career, or if it allows him to cling to delusions of significance. Perhaps both. In any event, if you miss this former state comptroller and three-time loser for the office of governor, you can find his unique combination of ignorance and alacrity alive and well in that publication. When reading his column one can almost see him at home, pretending to be governor, presiding over his chimerical administration in his underpants in front of the bathroom mirror.

Every week Curry lectures his readers like an old lady, fervently convinced his reader is stupid, and that his pearls of wisdom may throw some light on the darkness of your dim existence. He is a perfect little grandmother.

Sometimes he tries to remind us that he spent some time in the Clinton White House (do you hear a porno guitar in your head like I do when someone says "Clinton White House"?), and that he may have read a book by Zbigniew Brzezinski. It is during these heady moments that we get a treatise on foreign policy from him. Naturally, when I seek authoritative insight into the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, I seek out Bill Curry's writings.

Today, he very courageously piled onto Don Imus. Bill lets you know that he is such a special and sweet man that Imus's caustic style made him stop listening to him ten years ago. Somehow, in Curry's mind, Imus's failure to apologize in a timely fashion for a racial slur is equa
ted to Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez's failure to commit suicide over the alleged political firing of assistant district attorneys. Do you get that? Don Imus and the "nappy headed ho" remark are the moral equivalent of an AG firing his own employees, which he is entitled to do, for any reason at all.

Incidentally, the Bush administration fried 7 of these attorneys. I don't recall Bill Curry being outraged when Bill Clinton summarily fired something like 93 of them, some whom were investigating his wife's Rose Law Firm, and the Whitewater affair.

If you ask me, Don Imus can be more successfully compared with Curry himself. They are both aging dinosaurs of heavily diminished significance, and for all obvious indications, aren't paying much attention to their physical health.

Curry is a lightweight, but a delightful one. If they can pay Bill Curry to write about foreign policy, I may still have a shot at piloting a space shuttle.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Global Warming Party Cooly Attended

I had the distinctly accidental pleasure of meandering through Bushnell Park in Hartford this afternoon where a "rally" was being held to raise awareness about global warming, and call for Congressional action. Now you may not have heard of the concept of global warming, so it's clear we need to get the word out there.

Organizers are saying that they want the United States to reduce so-called greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by the year 2050. They are asking Congress to take the lead, because as you know, it's as simple as passing a law! Let's assume global warming is actually taking place for just a moment (I don't happen to believe in it). Reduce our emissions by 80%? What would America look like under such conditions?

Well, judging from the looks of the people I saw today, I can tell you tha
t an America in their image would be a filthy America indeed. It would have lots of men with ponytails and open-toed shoes. There would be many gray-haired frizz-headed bespectacled bra-less women. This new America would also feature a great deal of body odor. Why is it that the activists who seem the most obsessed about air quality are the ones whose bodies reduce it in our presence?

But don't get me wrong. There were about fifty people tops at this "rally." It's only newsworthy because it's a feel-good liberal cause with an anti-capitalist underpinning.

Evidently similar events were held simultaneously in Simsbury, New Haven, and New Hartford. Perhaps you saw one today. But you may not have been able to discern one of these gatherings from a collection of bums under a bridge cooking food in a trash can.

These people miss the point. But by the looks of them, they also miss the toilet regularly.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Dodd Sponsors Scheduled Surrender

Connecticut Senator Chris Dodd has announced that he will support a measure that mandates withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, calling President Bush’s war policy a “failure.” It schedules America’s surrender in this theater of the Global War on Terror for March 31, 2008.

Like Dodd’s turkey neck, a question dangles before us. What then?

I’m sure it is delightful to imagine all we have to do to end the bloody war in Iraq and any further American casualties is to just pack up and go home. Those who believe this do not understand the correlation between Iraq, and the larger War on Terror. They regurgitate DNC talking points using the terms “no weapons of mass destruction” or “failed war policy” or profess that Iraq did not attack us on September 11, 2001.

It is no coincidence that most war protestors are either high school or college-aged non-conformists, or middle-aged patchouli enthusiasts who won’t wear a bra because it might kill a tree. These people are either intellectually and emotionally immature, mentally stunted, or hate America.

Dodd is immature. That's why he was well into his sixties before he settled down, got married and had a child, and stopped going to Spring Break with Ted Kennedy.

The SDS alums over at MyLeftNutmeg, who adore Dodd and his absurd run for president are having a priapism over Dodd signing on to this surrender bill. Now, I'm not saying our friends at MyLeftNutmeg are immature... we all enjoy the absolutely hilarious genital metaphor employed in their blog title.

Let's rewind a bit back to before we invaded Iraq. I am particularly inspired by these gems directly from the good Senator himself:

"There is no question that Iraq possesses biological and chemical weapons and that he seeks to acquire additional weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons. That is not in debate. I also agree with President Bush that Saddam Hussein is a threat to peace and must be disarmed, to quote President Bush directly." - Senator Christopher Dodd, Congressional Record, October 8, 2002

"Of course we're safer without [Saddam Hussein]. I mean, consider the option of him still being there, knowing that he has used weapons of mass destruction, knowing how committed he was to do everything he could to be harmful to the United States and our allies." -Senator Christopher Dodd, CNBC's Capitol Report, December 18, 2003

Put that in your peace pipe and smoke it.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Big Hours, or Big Paycheck?

While serving as Speaker, Rep. Jim Amann has been a fundraiser for the Connecticut chapter of the Multiple Sclerosis Society, strong-arming lobbyists that have business before him to donate to the charity he works for. In other words, he makes money by getting lobbyists, whose livelihoods depend on his decisions, to contribute to the charity that pays him. This is known as a conflict of interest.

When questions of the impropriety of this kind of activity were directed at the indignant speaker, he either directly blamed Governor Rell’s Chief of Staff Lisa Moody for initiating this “personal attack” against him, or launched into a canned play act, turning down the corners of his mouth to imitate emotion, stating he is proud to do anything and everything he can to help victims of Multiple Sclerosis.

While his ethical lapse and his stubborn denial of wrongdoing can be ascribed to many things such as greed, arrogance or indifference to the law, some might say his hiding behind a charity and the sick people it helps to enrich himself is detestable.

Amann requested an opinion on the propriety of his dealings from the State Ethics Commission. Sensing he would be ruled against, he attempted to politically inoculate himself by announcing he would willingly give up soliciting from lobbyists. His instincts were correct; the Ethics Commission ruled this past week that this was a conflict of interest.

While this set of facts is interesting on its own, the public policy debate it has launched is deeply fascinating. Some legislators have seized on this opportunity, suggesting that conflicts such as that which embroiled the speaker would be eliminated by making the state legislature full-time, as opposed to the part-time job it now is.

State legislators get paid in the low $30k range right now, with leaders and committee chairs making a few thousand more.

Well, let’s examine who the chief advocates of a full-time legislature are. Perhaps most prominent is Chris Caruso (D-Bridgeport). Caruso has no other job to speak of, unless it is the profes
sional demagoguery he engages in as an insufferable, pompous gas bag. And I think when I say “gas bag,” we all know I’m talking the Hefty three-ply lawn debris strength cinch-sack variety. Bestowing a full-time job on himself would allow him, as a 40-something man, to finally move out of his mother’s basement, and buy a car.

There are others such a move would help. Pitiable legislative lightweights and former Democratic legislative staffers who were elected to vacated House seats, and who appear to be little more than 12-year old boys going to work in their dad’s ill-fitting suits would clearly get a much-needed financial shot in the arm. Not to mention the higher self-esteem! And man, you just can’t put a price tag on that!

Let’s not fool ourselves. Advocates for a “full-time legislature” are really advocates of a HIGHLY PAID legislature. I have significant doubts that these advocates intend to work more hours. They just want to be paid so much that they don’t need to pull deals like Amann did to make an ordinary living, and if possible an extraordinary living.