Friday, July 31, 2009

Godspeed, Chris

Senator Chris Dodd has announced he has been diagnosed with prostate cancer. This is imminently treatable and should not interfere with his ability to represent us in the Senate and lead the fight on health care reform after the August recess. Our thoughts and prayers are with him.

And, gentlemen, here is info on this very treatable cancer. Talk to your doctor -- early detection is key to a cure.

CTBob here: I'm adding to Kirby's post to say that it's very important to get the exam during your regular checkups, especially for the over-40s in the crowd. It ain't a hell of a lot of fun, but the way I look at it, neither is cancer.

Me, I just turned fifty, so in addition to the yearly prostate exams, I'm also scheduled for my very first colonoscopy in September. (My doctor wanted to do it in June, but I told him I wanted to have something to look forward to all summer. LOL!)

Milford Democratic Convention

This video highlights the democratic process of choosing candidates for local office. Featured are Mayoral candidate Genevieve Salvatore and City Clerk candidate Richard Roy, whose speeches are included in their entirety.

Visit for Genevieve's website, and for the Milford Democrats (obviously).

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Gov. Rell to raise taxes

(Kathleen Cei/New Haven Advocate photo)

After six months of stalling and waffling, Jodi Rell has finally admitted that in order to balance her budget she will have to raise some taxes.

The history of this year's budget battle has been interesting. When Gov. Rell first introduced her own budget, she wasn't even very sure of whether it contained a six billion or an eight billion dollar shortfall. It seems that someone with so loose a grip on her own numbers right from the get-go is probably going to have a tough time coping with the rest of the budgetary process.

Finally, after six months of painful program and service cuts, made while promising not to raise taxes, Gov. Rell has taken an abrupt U-turn and decided that raising taxes is a good and necessary idea.

The take over on My Left Nutmeg is that this displays a stunning lack of leadership by Rell, and Mayor Dan Malloy, who is exploring a run for governor, has a quote in the article:
The day the Governor presented her budget, I said it was out of balance. She said it was balanced, despite knowing it wasn't, for one reason only: to maintain the illusion that she could somehow balance the budget without looking at the revenue side of the equation. Today, 174 days later, she's finally willing to acknowledge that revenue has to be part of the solution. But look at what's happened. We've wasted taxpayer dollars -- $10,000 a day. Important programs - life-altering programs - are now being handpicked for survival by the Governor as she governs by executive order. None of this was necessary. All of it was avoidable. And we still don't have a budget.

Had the Governor done her job in February - which was to propose a balance budget - all of this could've been avoided.

What a waste of time, money, and effort. What a shame.
As of late yesterday the only tax that Rell publicly stated she would support is a 75 cent increase in the cigarette tax, but it's expected that when the latest version of her budget appears today as required, it will contain some kind of income-based increase.

From the ConnPost:
Democrats have proposed raising the $2 tax on packs of cigarettes to $2.75 to raise $196 million over the biennium. Rell confirmed that the higher cigarette tax is in the mix. "That's one tax," she said. "No one wants taxes, but that's part of it..."
It's a start, but I expect the real fireworks to go off later today.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Feinberg: he said, he (maybe) said

Yesterday the Associated Press ran a story about the secret Senate Ethics Committee testimony of creepy loan officer Robert Feinberg, where he alleged that Sen. Chris Dodd and Sen. Kent Conrad knew that they were receiving preferential treatment in their mortgage loans from Countrywide.

Sen. Dodd has repeatedly claimed that he believed he received the kind of treatment under Countrywide's VIP program that was given to any current customer with an excellent credit history.
At a Feb. 2 news conference, Dodd said he knew he was in a VIP program but insisted he was told by Countrywide, "It was nothing more than enhanced customer service ... being able to get a person on the phone instead of an automated operator."
Never mind that nowhere is it documented that either senator acknowledged that they were aware of Feinberg's illegal loans. Which, if it was as he says, is exactly what those loans were intended for; to buy influence with the senators. That is obviously an illegal action on Feinberg's part.

So now he's testifying about his role in the somewhat ambiguous deals, and there's no better way to avoid criminal prosecution than to implicate someone of a much higher profile than yourself. Which is precisely the motivation for Feinberg to do what he's doing.

I refer to the deals as "ambiguous" because there is more than ample proof that Dodd didn't receive any special treatment that was unavailable from other lenders at the time of the loans. Feinberg's "zero point" statements are null and void when you consider that many banks offered no-point loans during the period in 2003 when the loans were made:
Majority Of Borrowers In June And July 2003 Had “No-Point” Mortgages. The majority of mortgage loans in both June and July of 2003 were “no-point” mortgages, according to the Federal Housing Finance Board. The FHFB reported that 65 percent of mortgages had no points in June 2003, and 58 percent of mortgages had no points in July, 2003. [Federal Housing Finance Board, 8/26/03]
Feinberg also talked about interests rates that were supposedly reserved for so-called "Friends of Angelo" Mozilo, Countrywide's soon-to-be-convicted CEO and Feinberg's boss. The rates on Dodd's loan were higher than available rates from other banks, per the Wall Street Journal:
2003: Wall Street Journal Published Mortgage Rates Weekly That Showed Dodd Mortgage Was At Or Above Average Rates. The Wall Street Journal published in its “Dow Jones Real-Estate Index” the average daily rate for Jumbo 5/1 ARMs, listed by (Dodd’s DC mortgage was a 5/1 Jumbo ARM with an initial rate of 4.25%, closed on June 10, 2003).

o 5/1 Jumbo ARM as of May 22, 2003: 4.27%
o 5/1 Jumbo ARM as of May 28, 2003: 4.22%
o 5/1 Jumbo ARM as of June 4, 2003: 4.17%
o 5/1 Jumbo ARM as of June 11, 2003: 4.08%
o 5/1 Jumbo ARM as of June 18, 2003: 4.03%
o 5/1 Jumbo ARM as of June 25, 2003: 3.99%

[Wall Street Journal, 5/23/03; 5/29/03; 6/6/03; 6/13/03; 6/20/03; 6/27/03]
Based on those average rates it appears that Sen. Dodd was overcharged somewhat. You can assume that the lowest available consumer rates were even more of a bargain than those averages. Maybe Sen. Dodd should go after Countrywide for "rate gouging"!

Feinberg seems desperate to tie a couple of sitting senators into a scandal in which he himself likely played a major role. Former CEO Angelo Mozilo is probably going to jail, and Feinberg is doing everything he can to avoid a similar fate, even hiring a slick lawyer to be his mouthpiece.
"The simple fact that Angelo Mozilo and other high-ranking executives at Countrywide were personally making sure Mr. Feinberg handled their loans right is proof in itself that the senators knew they were getting sweetheart deals," said Feinberg's principal attorney, Anthony Salerno.
Gee, if Feinberg isn't in deep trouble, why does he have a "principal attorney"? Whom, I'd hazard to guess, is probably heading up an entire team of lawyers designed to save Mr. Feinberg's ass!

Sen. Dodd's website just posted a page with verifiable citations that would easily put this story to rest, if only the MSM would bother to read the goddamned thing! Each and every link clearly refutes the allegations against Sen. Dodd, but they need to actually read it to understand it. The link is here:

The sad part of this is that the MSM is allowing the story to continue as if there's a "there" there. And the rabid wingnuts along with the teabaggers here in Connecticut are burning up the comments sections of all the local newspaper's websites; which always seemed to me the perfect medium for the idiots and morons to anonymously post their cowardly venom. They obviously lack the balls to put their name on anything they spew. If I was going to write a book about the phenomenon, I'd probably call it "Blogging For Retards"!

In retrospect, the sheer magnitude of the howling insanity being displayed by the wingers is probably a good thing, because much like a toddler throwing a temper tantrum, I expect they'll eventually get tired of their childish screaming and take a much needed nap.

If they behave, we'll give them milk and cookies for snack time.

(Cazart! How's THAT for pushback?)

Monday, July 27, 2009

Canary fighting! WTF?

Are people that desperate for entertainment that they need to do something like this?

Police seized approximately 150 birds and arrested 19 people in a Connecticut home Sunday in an investigation of alleged finch and canary fighting, the Shelton Police Department said.


"This is new to us," Kozlowsky told CNN. "Finches are much easier to keep under the radar than roosters because they make less noise and they wouldn't arouse suspicions if someone had a lot of them."
OK, I can sort of understand the logic of that, but the whole thing makes me sick. I mean, finches? C'mon!

And canaries; those are those cute little guys, right? How the hell do you get them to fight? What do you do, show them Tweety cartoons on a continuous loop until they go berserk?

(Wanted for questioning)

And if that's not bad enough, now the NFL is talking about allowing dog-strangler Michael Vick back onto the gridiron. Jesus, when will the insanity end?

Friday, July 24, 2009

I Couldn't Have Said it Better

Two thumbs up -- way up for the piece by Sarah Darer Littman in the Greenwich Time with a look back on the two-faced Joe LIEberman on health care reform:
"What I'm saying to the people of Connecticut, I can do more for you and your families to get something done to make health care affordable, to get universal health insurance."

Caveat emptor. That was Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) on July 7, 2006, when he was a Democrat engaged in a primary struggle with Ned Lamont for the Senate.

Fast forward to June 2009, when we actually have a chance to achieve universal health insurance and Lieberman tells Bloomberg News: "I don't favor a public option because I think there's plenty of competition in the private market."

Do yourself a favor and go read the whole piece -- I think you'll particularly like to learn how much Joey has gotten from the health care industry over the years and how it computes per day of being a Senator.

Sarah -- you go, girl!

Milford: Salvatore wins Dem nod for Mayor

At Wednesday's Democratic nominating convention, the Town Committee selected Genevieve Salvatore for Mayor. Genevieve will campaign to replace 4-term GOP mayor Jim Richetelli.

Milford icon and living treasure Alan Jepson has decided to step down from the City Clerk seat at the end of this term after a long and illustrious career serving the city, including two terms as Mayor in the 1960s. 119th District State Rep. Richard Roy received the nomination in a relatively close vote over Planning & Zoning Board member Kim Rose.

And most of the candidates for various boards (Aldermen, Education, and P&Z) are shown in the two photos below. A full roster will be available on soon. And videos from the evening will be online sometime next week.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Doctor is In

I just got off the phone from a conference call with Howard Dean for nurses. He emphasized three key points:
  • We need to bypass the traditional power structure and do it ourselves -- just like we elected Barack Obama
  • One thing politicians care about more than money -- is votes.
  • This is not Republican v. Democrat or Conservative v. Liberal -- it's very simply the American people v. the big insurance companies.
It's time to find out who's on our side and who isn't. Chris Dodd? Our side. Joe LIEberman? Insurance companies.

Call 1-877-264-4226 this week and tell your Congressional representatives and Senators you expect them to be on our side -- and all the money in the world from the health industry lobby can't buy our votes. Get us access to healthcare, and you may just have our votes for as long as you run.

WTNH Blog fumbles, then recovers

Yesterday there was a minor local media controversy when the WTNH (Channel 8) blog posted erroneous data in a story about Sen. Chris Dodd's fundraising.

BTW, is "fundraising" a real word? Because my auto spellchecker always tags it, yet it allows "fundraiser".

Hmmm....can we get Noah Webster on the phone, please?

Anyhoo, here's a screen cap of the article as it appeared yesterday:

Two things really bother me about this.

First, I can't believe nobody told me "The Full Monty" was at the Ivoryton Playhouse! It better not sell out before I can get tickets! (el oh el)

Second, we had a big problem with the fact that this article used old numbers and repeated old Republican talking points about the alleged "five Conn. donors".

Well, the lovely and talented Tparty over on My Left Nutmeg posted this article examining the error below.

And who doesn't love the title "Anonymous WTNH Blogger Reaches Stratospheric Levels of Dumb"? My, we bloggers DO get a bit testy at times!:
"There are so many things completely wrong with this blog post by " Editor" at WTNH (the one that on first glance looks like the 100 other articles a week written about Chris Dodd's fundraising) that it's hard to know where to start. How about with the first sentence:
Of the 465 itemized individual contributions given to Sen. Chris Dodd's re-election campaign this year, only five Connecticut residents gave a donation to the senator, according to records posted online by the Federal Election Commission.
Wrong, and wrong. There have been many more than 465 itemized individual donations to Dodd this year, including over 100 itemized individual donors from CT in Dodd's second quarter FEC report alone. And 491 donors from CT in the 2Q, if you count donations both above and below the FEC reporting threshold of $200.

On to the second sentence:
The FEC lists Dodd receiving $608,995 in itemized individual contributions between Jan. 1, 2009 and June 30, 2009.
Wrong. The FEC lists Dodd receiving $664k in itemized individual donations in the second quarter alone, in addition to the $608k in itemized individual donations in the first quarter."
Now, the thing that rankled the lefty blogosphere, not to mention Democratic State Central, are the conclusions that are made in the article, and the way comments were turned off only after many Dodd-trashing posts were allowed, giving people who know the real story no obvious way to dispute the article.

I can easily imagine how the author, WTNH Executive Producer Jeff Bailey, felt when he'd realized he screwed the pooch. As a political blogger, I know well that feeling of having made a very public mistake. It sucks on a level that's difficult for the non-blogging public to understand.

First, your scalp tingles with embarrassment (is it possible to feel your scalp blush? 'cause that's what it feels like!) Then you feel a warm rush of heat throughout your body, often accompanied by a clammy flop-sweat. It's exactly what stage fright must feel like, except you're sitting in front of a hidden and probably much smaller than you imagine audience, who will enthusiastically boo you on the goddamned Internet, where the echoes of their catcalls will likely remain for years!

Believe me, it's never fun to screw up, nor is it pleasant to have to make the correction and publicly acknowledge your error. I've made one or two little errors in all my years of blogging (stop laughing, you idiots!) so I speak from experience.

So this morning, Jeff posted the following comment on MLN, where he owned up to his error and addressed specific complaints from the others who posted comments (you can see what I mean when I say we can get a bit testy at times):
From WTNH (4.00 / 4)
(CTBob: he's getting some nice ratings for this)

My name is Jeff Bailey. I work at WTNH and have been there since 1993. I am responsible for the "Stratospheric Levels of Dumb' posted on cited above.

Yep, I made an incorrect assumption that a link marked "itemized individual contributions" available on Sen. Dodd's FEC page was up to date. It was not. I should have looked more closely at the dates on the FEC query. I didn't. And I should have left comments open. There should also have been a 'Contact' link. I'll rectify that when I'm done typing here.

In all, a pretty fair criticism here.

ctkeith, while I am blonde, I'm a he, I have little hair left, no "assets" so to speak, and I have no desire to move to another TV station/paper/web site.

notcho, I recall seeing one donation record for East Haddam, and one for Chester in the second quarter document. Remember, donations under a certain amount don't have to be reported with names and towns.

Bob Adams, you're absolutely right. I blew it in this case. Bad research on my part, not a bad cut-and-paste job. I'm much better than this example would indicate.

Thank you for your time.
That is exactly the way to handle something like this. While my comment was certainly harsh (who knew anyone would read it?) it contained a valid complaint and Jeff addressed it in a sincere and forthright manner. That takes guts, and I posted as much both in reply to his comment and over on the WTNH blog, where commenting was recently turned back on for that article.

There were some changes to the article that helps clarify the situation, but I'm not altogether happy that it didn't go far enough. The first paragraph is a bit confusing because it still refers to the first quarter contributions, and after that lede, it then goes on to say it's picked up in the second:
Of the 465 itemized individual contributions given to Sen. Chris Dodd’s re-election campaign in the first quarter of this year, only five Connecticut residents gave a donation to the senator, according to records posted online by the Federal Election Commission. Donations from state residents have picked up substantially since then.
OK, it sort of clarifies things a little, but the other numbers in the article are still a bit shaky in that they reflect 1st quarter figures for the other candidates.

But I'm not going to split hairs on this, because it's pretty much over as far as I can see, and because Bailey did the right thing and owned his mistake. I usually take great pleasure in knocking the MSM because there are all too often instances when a reporter isn't fair-minded or evenhanded, either because of a personal or corporate agenda, or simply sheer laziness and ineptitude (boy I saw a lot of that sort of reporting during Ned Lamont's challenge!)

I'm sure Jeff Bailey isn't any of these things; he simply made a mistake and then owned up to it.

Which is a good thing to do in those circumstances. We applaud that.

(Clarification: we applaud the owning-up part, not the making-a-mistake part, which we still kind of frown upon)

So, there ya are. Oh, I finally heard back from Noah Webster:

(How does he do that with his arm? That looks painful!)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

First Steps on a Long Road

Congratulations to the Dems in the state legislature for bucking up and overriding the governor's veto of the SustiNet bill yesterday. While this is a great thing, it doesn't mean we'll have universal health care coverage by the end of the year or anything.

What this does mean is that a nine-member board is empowered to begin work crafting a plan for the legislature. As a nurse, I can tell you this is a well thought out plan that addresses healthcare from many sides: prevention, risk reduction, increasing efficiency, maintaining high quality and accessibility. It is unusual to see an approach that is this comprehensive. And, that's why the plan is to take a year to map this out and to present recommendations to the General Assembly. That takes us to July 1, 2010.

By January 1, 2011, SustiNet will submit a bill to the legislature detailing implementation plans (PDF):
  • Improve health, quality of care, and access, while slowing growth of health care spending
  • Effective management of chronic illnesses, preventive care and addressing ethnic and racial disparities in care
  • Establish provider networks and set payment methods
  • Design a range of options under the plan
  • Provide coverage to all -- including those with pre-existing conditions
  • Examine revenue sources and maximize Federal reimbursement dollars
The plan is to begin enrollment July 1, 2012. There is a long way to go, but there is no doubt this is an important first step. Key to moving SustiNet forward is to not let up on the push for a national health care bill in this Congress. Chris Dodd is leading the charge. Joe LIEberman is trying to stop it. You know what to do.

This quote is particularly meaningful, given this veto override occurred on the 40th anniversary of the moon landing:

"We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too."
-John F. Kennedy, September 12, 1962

We are committed to health care reform, not because it is easy but because it is hard and because it is the right thing to do.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

My Apollo 11

I remember my family taking me to visit my uncle Richard and aunt Dolly back when I was about six or seven years old, and my uncle had an extensive collection of science magazines. I found a 1959 issue of something like Popular Science that had a cover illustration of a spaceman stepping onto the lunar surface, with the title, "Man To Walk On the Moon by the Year 2000". That image helped inspire my fledging interest in space exploration.

A year or two after that issue hit the newsstands in 1959, and while I was still a toddler, President Kennedy upped the timetable by challenging America to get a man there and back before 1970, to beat the Soviets to the moon (a very real fear at the time, illustrated below). Our nation then launched itself into the space race.

There were obviously some bumps in the road. I remember the day well when the three astronauts died on the launchpad in the tragic Apollo I fire. I remember it because it happened on my eighth birthday, in January 1967. In the dark days that followed it seemed very unlikely that America would be able to meet JFK's ambitious deadline.

But NASA was up to the task, and we were back in space by October 1968 with the Earth-orbital mission of Apollo 7 (below). I recall being in class some time soon after the successful mission, and reading about the flight in the latest edition of My Weekly Reader. It was always fun to see that rolled up tube of flyers appear on the teacher's desk with her mail, because I loved reading about the latest exploits of the astronauts in language that a fourth-grader could easily understand.

I followed each mission closely, in school and at home watching TV. Walter Cronkite's obvious enthusiasm for the space program and his patient manner made it easy even for a young child to comprehend complex procedures such as rendezvous and docking in space.

Soon it was the summer of 1969. School vacation was in full swing, and fortunately all the kids in my neighborhood had recently survived the July 4th festivities without losing any fingers to cherry bombs or M-80s, which was a very real problem back in those days (I still miss the easy and widespread availability of bottle rockets and Roman candles). The excitement mounted as we approached the launch date for Apollo 11.

Finally, the big day arrived, and after a successful launch and journey to the moon, the astronauts were on the lunar surface.

The day of the landing and moonwalk turned to evening as the whole family gathered in our living room to watch the drama on our black and white TV. The rooftop antenna got pretty good reception, although sometimes during the summer we would get some ghosting from nearby channels. And when a plane flew into the signal it would sometimes fade out to static for a few seconds.

But that night the TV reception was good. Us kids were sprawled on a pair of very weird 60s looking lounges that my parents bought for some reason, while the grown-ups were sitting on the couch. It seemed to take forever for the moonwalk to begin, as there was some kind of delay before they could descend the ladder. I didn't understand what was taking them so long; I figured they should land, pop open the door, and scramble down the ladder!

And where was the video? All I saw were news anchors discussing the goings-on during their preparations, and suddenly the screen jumped and a grainy, fuzzy, very contrasted image appeared. Apparently Buzz or Neil had pulled the release on the video camera door and it started broadcasting video of the recognizable leg of the lunar lander.

My entire family was riveted as Armstrong descended the ladder. We all knew that we were watching something incredibly momentous, and just as Neil prepared to step onto the lunar surface, my mom called out to Armstrong, "Say something historic!"

A second later, Armstrong recited his famous line. We all laughed, and I looked at my mom in amazement at how she had picked the exact perfect moment to break the tension in the room!

The rest of the moonwalk was a blur. We all chatted about how incredible it was to have live TV from the moon. I vaguely remember Nixon's historic phone call to the astronauts, but soon after I must have fallen asleep (it was very late, with Armstrong stepping on the moon at nearly 11PM, but my parents extended my usual 9 o'clock bedtime). I only remember waking up in bed the next morning and asking how the rest of the moonwalk went.

I recall thinking during the following several days I that I was now living in a different world. We had made it to the moon, and there was even talk of going to Mars by 1980. While the reality turned out to be very different (we were still involved in a terrible war; the Soviets had a nuclear arsenal pointed at us, and we at them) there is no doubt in my mind that the world had indeed changed in some subtle, hard to describe way.

It seemed, for at least one summer in a young boy's life, that anything was possible.

Lieberman knows where his bread is buttered

Senator Joe Lieberman [OpenSecrets]

Total from health & insurance interests:


Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT) has made no bones about his opposition to the public option. Lieberman point blank told a Bloomberg News reporter:

"I don't favor a public option, and I don't favor a public option because I think there's plenty of competition in the private insurance market."[1]

And while Sen. Chris Dodd has also gotten contributions from insurance companies, he has stated many times that he is strongly in favor of a public option, as opposed to ol' "Say No Joe"!

Another Wienermobile disaster

Yet another wienermobile has met an untimely end (and no, I'm not talking about it being dropped into a pot of simmering water).

For the second time in just over a year, the famed Oscar Mayer wienermobile has crashed! In this post from last year I pointed out the dangers of driving a wiener on ice-slicked roads. There's simply no good reason for a wiener to be driven on the highways of our nation! God only knows what would have happened if they were driving a kielbasa!

Hell, even a bratwurst could have completely destroyed the house!

But, apparently, nobody heeded my call for a reform of our extremely lax wiener laws. The wiener above reportedly slammed into a house because the driver didn't know whether it was in drive or reverse! That's because it's a goddamned wiener! Both ends look exactly the same!

Here's a photo from last winter's wiener crash:

Only YOU can prevent wiener crashes!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Why Start Now, Joe?

"We got plenty of - No, we oughta get the bills, have August to read it - believe it or not - and talk to our constituents about it, and come back in September and we can do it in a thoughtful way."
This quote, from the junior senator from Connecticut, is in response to a question about why he is pushing to slow down a health reform bill.

Typical Joe -- notice he will talk to us, nothing about listening. I don't know about you, but it harkens me back to "Connecticut for LIEberman" (not, LIEberman for CT, of course!) Because we know Joe has no interest in what people who disagree with him think.

Friday, July 17, 2009

And that's the way he was...

Rest well, Uncle Walter

Walter Cronkite

ADDITION: Video memories of classic Walter Cronkite broadcasts are posted on Hat City Blog.

FIC weighs in on tolerance

The Family Institute of Connecticut, a PAC supposedly representing the interests of families, reinforced their total lack of tolerance for the families of gay, lesbian, bisexual and the transgendered with a lawsuit designed to force the state Department of Children and Families to remove from its website links to "open and affirming" churches.

From the Hartford Courant:
The Family Institute of Connecticut said such links clearly violate both the First Amendment and parental rights and had asked for them to be removed. The group, represented by the American Center for Law and Justice, a nonprofit law firm founded by evangelist Pat Robertson and specializing in constitutional law, threatened to sue.
The DCF complied with the request and removed the link.

Apparently this means that ANY links to churches or religious organizations, on ANY government website, for ANY reason whatsoever, is a clear violation of the First Amendment, and as such needs to be removed immediately, or face a potential lawsuit.

Hmmm...I wonder if anyone out there knows of any links like that?

We wouldn't want the government to offend anyone now, would we?

ADDITION: Genghis Conn (I suspect that's not his real name) over at Connecticut Local Politics has posted a link to this list of LGBT-accepting churches and religious groups, compiled by Love Makes a Family

Thursday, July 16, 2009

This Just In...

On Hardball (MSNBC) Chuck Todd suggests that Diane Feinstein runs the risk of being "Ned Lamonted." By whom, I wonder?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Jim Himes addresses financial regulation

While the world is watching the Sotomayor confirmation hearings over in the Senate, there's other important stuff going on. The business of government is, of course, business.

Yesterday, Congressman Jim Himes (CT-04) addressed the House in support of getting working regulation in place to help reform the financial services sector.

Since you probably missed it (I know I did), here's a little video of Rep. Himes addressing the House:

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Something About Sessions

While following the Sotomayor hearings today, keep this article in mind. Ronald Reagan nominated Sessions to the Federal bench in 1986 and the nomination was killed in committee because Sessions was not qualified. How ironic that he is now the ranking member on the Judiciary Committee. I wonder why that experience with the committee is not included in his biography on the committee's Web site?

Live and archived Webcast here
SCOTUS live blog here
Judiciary Committee Web site here
And if you've got a couple of days, Sotomayor's answers to the committee questionnaire with all appendices are here

More fundraising numbers in

The end of the 2nd quarter numbers are slowly coming in now that July is here.

On the Senate side, Sen. Chris Dodd raised an impressive $1.2 million, with a large number of the individual donations coming from Connecticut. Democratic challenger Merrick Alpert's numbers aren't yet available (UPDATE BELOW), but obviously they won't total anything near what Sen. Dodd has raised.

In the race for Governor, Democrat Jim Amann reported a slim $8,000 raised in the 2nd qtr., but stated in an interview with Christine Stuart of CT News Junkie, "I am the guinea pig,” in regard to the new public campaign finance laws.

And, because I can never resist a good visual metaphor:

That's one of the things I really love about Jim; he rarely disappoints with his sound bites. Amann's colorful language aside, he still needs to address the fact that, in order to qualify for the $1 million in public funds for the primary and $3 million for the general election, he needs to raise $250,000 ($225K in-state) in small ($5 to $100) contributions. That means he'll need at least 2,500 donors (assuming a C-note each) before he qualifies.

Interestingly, there aren't any public funds available for the office of Lieutenant Governor (UPDATE BELOW); apparently, even though they get their own ballot line, the Lt. Gov. candidates must either raise funds themselves or more likely, campaign on the ticket with the gubernatorial candidate. Remember in the 2006 Democratic primary, this led to Dan Malloy's running mate, Mary Glassman, being elected to run with the eventual primary victor John DeStefano.

UPDATE - LT. GOV numbers:

Apparently the online info for funding the Lt. Gov's race is too complex for a moron like me to understand. But a closer read of Page 2 of this document at the SEEC shows there IS a fundraising threshold requirement for the Lt. Gov. for the PRIMARY election, and Page 4 shows "N/A" for public funds available to the candidate for the GENERAL election because for THAT one they run WITH the Gubernatorial candidate. Ah, I get it!

UPDATE - Merrick Alpert Press Release:


New London, Connecticut – Merrick Alpert’s US Senate campaign reported today $44,315 in donations for the 43 days since Merrick Alpert announced his candidacy.

“I am very grateful to the 171 people who contributed to my campaign. One hundred percent of our campaign contributions came from individuals; not one penny came from a political action committee. I am honored that the people of Connecticut are funding a grass roots campaign to take back the US Senate seat from the special interest money in Washington,” Alpert said.

Merrick Alpert’s Senate campaign received 180 total donations averaging $246.19 each. 129 of the donations, or 71.7%, were from Connecticut citizens. 40% of the donations were made online through the campaign’s website at

Merrick Alpert’s Senate campaign has raised the majority of the campaign’s money in two ways. First, by having Connecticut residents host events called “Chats For Change” in their homes where voters assemble to meet Merrick Alpert and ask questions. Second, the campaign has been developing web-based donations at


Monday, July 13, 2009

Sotomayor hearings begin today

"I was going to college and I was going to become an attorney, and I knew that when I was ten. Ten. That's no jest."

Senate confirmation hearings for Judge Sonia Sotomayor begin at 10AM today, and while the Republicans will certainly be thorough in their questioning of her (as they should be), it's widely expected that by the end of the hearings she will be confirmed as President Obama's first Supreme Court appointment.

Part of what will help Sotomayor, besides the Democratic majority in the Senate, is the fact that she is slated to replace retiring Justice David Souter, considered to be a liberal justice, and therefore it won't change the balance of the court appreciably.

What may result from Sotomayor's likely confirmation will be the addition of an accomplished and very knowledgeable voice to the Court. Sotomayor is credited with being one of the most experienced and capable SC nominees in the last 100 years, according to MSNBC and other sources. Her knowledge may help influence the legal decisions that may otherwise be guided by the politics of the other justices.

The format of the first day's proceedings will be started with the 12 Democrats and 7 Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee each taking up to 10 minutes for opening remarks. Then Sotomayor will be introduced and address the Senate directly. After that, the hearing will likely be recessed until tomorrow when the questioning of the nominee begins.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Malloy, Bysiewicz in close money race

The two Democratic frontrunners in their bid for governor are very close in money raised by the end of the 2nd quarter, the Hartford Courant reports.
The two Democratic front-runners for governor — Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz and Stamford Mayor Dannel Malloy — are locked in a tight campaign money race.

Malloy, the longest-serving mayor in Stamford history, eked out the fundraising lead in the second quarter with slightly more than $144,000, compared with more than $141,000 for Bysiewicz. Overall, Malloy has raised more than $272,000, placing him ahead of Bysiewicz, who has raised $239,000.
The fund raising number for the third Democrat in the race, Jim Amann, weren't available by press time, but a spokesman for the campaign recently assured us that they are in good financial shape.

Governor Rell has raised $90,000 so far, and has $70K on hand. But of course, she isn't being faced with a primary challenge yet, so there isn't the urgency that the Democrats are dealing with.

Gubernatorial Candidate's Websites:

  • James Amann

  • Susan Bysiewicz

  • Dan Malloy
  • I'm always late to the party

    But this just struck me as so bizarrely funny that I felt compelled to post it.

    If you aren't one of the million or so people who saw it already, this video uses a clip from the riveting film "Downfall" which portrays Adolf's massive reaction to the news of Micheal Jackson's untimely death:

    Boy, that Hitler, he loved his Jackson 5!

    OK, for those at home keeping count, this is reason #297 for "Why I'm Going To Hell".

    Friday, July 10, 2009

    Peter Schiff almost, nearly, sorta announces Senate run

    Peter Schiff, economist, author and stock broker, recently made a Youtube video from his Las Vegas suite at Freedom Fest (don't ask) in which he discusses the Minimum Wage law (he apparently doesn't like it much).

    Schiff also talks about his likely-soon-to-be-announced Senate bid against Chris Dodd. Basically, he just stops short of committing in this excerpt below.

    BTW, that weird jumpy edit right when he begins to discuss his run was from his original video (link above):

    This may be the most interesting quote from the video (and by "interesting", I mean "horrific"):
    "...I'm not promising anything specific if I win other than freedom from government. Other than going to government to put a stop to everything they're doing and to try to restore sanity to an insane Congress and to try to be a roadblock." (emphasis mine, of course)
    I can imagine this playing very well with the Teabaggers and the Paulites (I specifically avoided calling them "Paultards" because that really seems to make them apoplectic with rage, and I'm in a good mood this morning, so I'll try to be nice.)

    I'd love to interview this guy. If his soon-to-be campaign staff sees this, please email me and we'll set it up.

    I'm so sure that he'll run I'm gonna put my own money up to prove it! I hereby offer to bet the first comment respondent a sum of $7.25 (which happens to be the Department of Labor's Minimum Wage as of July 24, 2009) that Mr. Schiff will announce his candidacy by Labor Day, 2009 (Labor Day, get it?)

    Mr. Schiff's pre-exploratory website is (and that's possibly the very first URL I've typed that has three "f's" in a row).

    Thursday, July 09, 2009

    The Hill's blog confirms Himes fund raising

    Late yesterday "The Briefing Room" (one of the blogs of "The Hill", which reports on Congress) confirmed the fund raising numbers with the Himes campaign that I posted yesterday.

    From The Briefing Room:
    First term Democratic Rep. Jim Himes (Conn.) raised $520,000 in the second quarter and has hauled in over $1 million since Election Day last year, according to a Democratic source familiar with his fundraising.

    Himes will report $760,000 cash on hand in his second quarter Federal Election Commission report.


    UPDATE: We have confirmed Himes' fundraising with his campaign team. We also found out that Himes is not in debt. Rather, $35,000 of the $365,000 (CTBob: the blog originally said it was current debt) was debt Himes paid off in the second quarter. The remaining $330,000 are loans Himes made to the campaign last year and has transferred to his 2010 campaign.
    The supposed Republican challenger to Jim's seat may be John McKinney, the minority leader in the senate.

    However, McKinney hasn't made an official announcement to run yet, and judging by the recent frenzied fund raising by hopeful GOP challengers to Sen. Chris Dodd, there may not be a whole hell of a lot of Republican dollars even left in the 4th District to mount a viable challenge to Himes at this point. Unless McKinney comes out of the blocks with some astounding numbers (if and when he does announce) he will have a long and difficult road ahead of him.

    Wednesday, July 08, 2009

    Maybe It's Just Me....

    But did anyone else see the first three minutes of NBC Nightly News just now with Joe LIEberman talking about US government Web sites that had been hit with DNS attacks? Uh, sorry...we know he has no credibility when it comes to talking about hacked Web sites.

    Himes surpasses $1 Million raised

    When Rep. Jim Himes (CT-04) posts his 2nd quarter numbers with the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) next week, he'll reach a significant milestone nearly 16 months in advance of the 2010 election.

    Over $ 1,000.000 raised!

    Himes has raised around $520,000 this quarter, and his campaign has cash on hand of over $760,000.

    This means the total amount he's has raised for his 2010 re-election campaign is nearly $1.1 Million!

    The final FEC filing deadline for the 2nd quarter is July 15th, so by next week we'll have official confirmation on these very significant numbers. This bodes extremely well for Jim and his campaign for re-election next year.

    UPDATE: More confirmation of the numbers here.

    Tuesday, July 07, 2009

    Senator Franken

    That didn't take too long, did it?

    And about that fabled number "60" that has everyone so excited: I confidently predict that the Democrats won't be able to defeat even a single Republican filibuster threat without the help of one or more GOP senators. Sorry, but in order to have a realistic and workable all-Democratic majority, we'll need to pick up two or three more seats in 2010. At least.

    First Lieberman Challenge 2012

    Imagine my surprise when I was listening to Anderson Cooper 360 last evening and heard this...

    ERICA: Al Franken will be sworn in as senator from Minnesota tomorrow. The "Saturday Night Live" alum arriving on Capitol Hill today, where he promised to work day and night. Franken defeated Republican Norm Coleman after an eight-month recount battle.

    And it looks like Alec Baldwin may want to follow in Franken's footsteps, the actor telling "Playboy" magazine that he's seriously considering running for Congress. But he did acknowledge his opponents would have plenty of fodder to use against him.

    At one point -- he's a native New Yorker, Anderson -- said he wouldn't mind moving to Connecticut to run against Joe Lieberman, but that probably won't ever happen, he said.

    COOPER: We'll see, Erica.
    We'll see, indeed. Boys -- be sure and go get the issue of Playboy so you can check this out, and report back.

    Monday, July 06, 2009

    Dr. John Orman (1949-2009)

    Very sad news today.

    Dr. John Orman, professor of politics at Fairfield University, and first registered member and organizing chairman of the Connecticut For Lieberman party, passed away suddenly yesterday at the age of 60.

    I'm going to search through my archives for video and photos that will help tell the story of this witty and gentle man.

    He will be dearly missed.

    (Video below from the post-election organizing rally for the CFL party, January 18, 2007)

    And in the photo below (from early 2006) there's several blogger-types you might recognize, when we created this visual nod to Dr. Orman for being one of the first Democrats to actively challenge Joe Lieberman for his senate seat.

    Sh*t always happens when I'm on vacation!

    It never fails.

    There's always something big going on when I'm off sailing. Here's a look back at some of my past vacations:


    2006: Joe Lieberman foresees he'll be toast in the upcoming senate primary against Ned Lamont, so he forms his very own political party (the Connecticut For Lieberman party) so he can hang on to his cushy seat for another term. I was on my boat in Port Jefferson harbor and heard the news via Jane Hamsher.

    Then I turned off my phone and continued grilling our swordfish steaks while the sun set.


    2007: Pres. Bush commutes Scooter Libby's sentence, but doesn't pardon him, which would have then made it so he would have had to testify before Congress if called. A brutally cynical move that would have upset me a lot more if we weren't having so much fun in Northport.


    2008: Joe Lieberman has been campaigning for McCain like a rat in heat; and while doing so he was loudly heckled at one appearance, according to CBS Radio. My frustration at not being able to blog about it nearly ruined my enjoyment of our secluded anchorage at Eaton's Neck.

    But not quite.

    Not even close, actually. The water and sky were both so blue that it looked more like the Caribbean than Long Island Sound!

    ...and here it is, the sh*t that happened this year...

    2009: Sarah frickin' Palin

    Big news, to be sure; and ripe for much blogitorial mocking.

    ...but just look at that awesome sky below!

    Is it any wonder why I decide to spend so much time on the water?

    Besides, Kirby filled in for me this week, and she did a terrific job! Thank you so much, Kirby!

    Sunday, July 05, 2009


    Mike Huckabee got it right this morning when he said that the point of having a news conference is to answer questions, not to create more. But this is Sarah Palin, after all, and the rules of planet earth do not apply. Here's the official transcript of her remarks.

    Andrew Sullivan has done an amazing job tracking Palin and her lies -- here is his roundup of the commentary on Palin's move. And the Daily Beast has a nice summary page, too.

    And. don't miss the threatening memo from the Palin attorney warning news organizations about what they can and cannot report. I missed the part that said that the soon-to-be-ex-governor of the 49th state becomes the arbiter of what is free speech and what is not. Hey, it's a holiday weekend and I am not being as diligent on the research as I might otherwise be.

    And if you haven't read it yet, Todd Purdum's profile of Sarah Barracuda in Vanity Fair is not to be missed.

    Thursday, July 02, 2009

    Because I'm Good Enough, I'm Smart Enough and Gosh, Darn it, People Like Me

    I must say, I do love the sound of "Senator Al Franken." I listened to his radio program on Air America via XM radio and was blown away by the depth of his knowledge and his analysis of the issues of the day. Not only that, but he received the Merit Award from the USO earlier this year.
    The USO-Metro Merit Award was presented to comedian-politician Al Franken for his seven overseas tours to visit deployed troops and numerous volunteer hours he’s given to wounded warriors at local military hospitals.

    Now, I probably missed it when I took my blogging sabbatical, but how many trips to the deployed troops in a war zone have Rush and Sean and Bill-O made? Do let me know.

    Married to the same woman, no hint of sexual scandal and nothing about hiking the Appalachian Trail. Sounds good to me.

    I think the Senator-elect got it right when he said that he is not looking at being the 60th Democratic senator, but rather, the second senator from Minnesota with a lot of constituent work that needs to be done since Sen. Klobuchar has been on her own since January.

    Hmmm....a Senator who is concerned about constituent work...what's that, Joe?

    Wednesday, July 01, 2009