Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Lamont's roadmap to recovery

Yesterday Ned Lamont published what he calls "A Business Plan for Connecticut", available in it's entirely via this link to

Lamont issued a press release describing his...
...multi-pronged plan to create jobs, foster business growth, and move our state's economy forward. Lamont's Business Plan for Connecticut outlines immediate steps to help our companies succeed and keep jobs in Connecticut, while building the foundation for long-term prosperity through investments in promising industries, our education system, and our transportation infrastructure.

"For too long, we've been waiting for a governor who will put Connecticut to work. We can't afford to wait anymore - it's time for a new business plan for our state. As governor, I will take immediate steps to create jobs and reduce the cost of doing business here. But I'll also keep my eye on Connecticut's future, enhancing our strengths, modernizing our infrastructure, and putting our state on a path to success," Lamont said.

"Every day, I'm going to be talking with our companies, making sure they have the support they need to grow their business, and I'll be working the phones to recruit companies to our state, bringing good jobs with them.

"Now is not the time to be timid; we've had two decades of timidity. Now is the time to chart a new course with a bold plan and unwavering commitment to provide good jobs for all our people."
Local bloggers are discussing the plan, including a nearly-as-infrequent-as-Hally's-Comet post from the elusive Spazeboy (although for some strange reason he gets more screen time in Lamont's latest online commercial than Ned himself!), and the usual great coverage in CT News Junkie.

During our blogger's chat with Ned last week, I asked him what he would do about the budget crisis if he were governor tomorrow. He covered a lot of ground in a short time with his answer, so it's helpful to see his blueprint spelled out in greater detail on his website.

Dan Malloy was quick to comment on Lamont's plan, in this press release from his campaign website:
“I’m glad to hear Ned talking about the economy. A lot of his ideas sound a lot like what I’ve been talking about for the past year and a half, and a lot like what I spent 14 years doing as Mayor of Stamford – a time during which we created almost 5,000 jobs.

“There are a few things I think we need to do that aren’t in Ned’s plan – such as instituting benchmark systems that would help the state identify critical economic needs and ensure that state resources are allocated as efficiently as possible. It makes no sense that, to this day and despite repeated attempts by the Auditors of Public Accounts to get this policy changed, Connecticut still refuses to release a list of companies that have received state aid and their respective records on job creation.

“That kind of practical review of how we’re using our resources is critical. It’s something that I learned as Mayor, and it’s an example of what separates Ned and me when it comes to economic development: our experience. I spent 14 years doing what the next Governor needs to do: taking the lead in creating jobs and fostering economic security. Ned hasn’t done that.”
Information on Malloy’s vision for Connecticut can be found at

I haven't heard from any of the other candidates about Lamont's plan at the time of this writing, but I'd guess there will likely be others who will take the opportunity to comment.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


I've written about Kevin Lembo before on this blog. He's the head of the Office of Health Care Advocate for the State of Connecticut, and he's running for Lieutenant Governor.

In the past I've often seen the nomination of a Lt. Gov. candidate simply as a political move, a way to broaden the appeal of a ticket without any real qualifications for the job. And that's because the office itself doesn't really have much of a clear definition of duties. It's largely a position that fulfills a Constitutional requirement but doesn't really mean much (that is, not until the governor is hauled off to jail or something like that!)

But Kevin Lembo is an effective advocate and a dedicated public servant who promises to bring a new level of involvement to the office. He is nationally recognized for expertise in health care systems and consumer protection, and has spoken before many national organizations. He was recently invited to testify before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee of the U.S. Congress on insurance company abuses.

This is the kind of guy who can bring a level of usefulness to an office that previously didn't mean all that much. Working with our new Democratic governor, Lembo will most likely be an effective voice of advocacy and reform.

I normally don't endorse candidates this early on, but in this case I feel comfortable with the notion of Kevin being the absolute best person to occupy that seat, and I look forward to seeing him effect real change in our state. I only hope that, whichever of our many fine Democratic candidates eventually wins the nomination, they'll have Kevin next to them.

And keep in mind that in Connecticut, regardless of any ticket that is formed before or during the State Convention, at the almost certain primary we'll have the governor and lieutenant governor candidates are on separate ballot lines. As it happened in 2006, Dan Malloy's "running mate" Mary Glassman won the Lt. Gov. nomination while John DeStefano took the governor's nom, creating a kind of "fusion" ticket.

Hopefully, going into the convention we'll see all the front runners cross-endorse Kevin as their pick for Lt. Gov. This will help create party unity and work to strengthen our chances in November. And in the end, isn't that the best thing for everyone?

To learn more and contribute to Kevin's campaign, which has a goal of raising $10,000 by Wednesday, please click Your contribution will go a long way toward saying that you believe a Lieutenant Governor can be much more than a figurehead and a seat warmer.

(In case you were wondering about the title of this article, "KLembo" means Kevin Lembo, and the "-mania" thing is just something that makes anything sound cooler!)

Monday, March 29, 2010

A chat with Ned Lamont

Several nights ago Ned Lamont sat down with local bloggers to discuss the issues in an informal setting. Here are two short videos from the meeting:

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Lamont mystery exposed

Recently the Hearst newspapers in Connecticut ran a story detailing many of the state candidate's personal wealth and lifestyle.

As I wrote recently in this article, Ned Lamont declined to participate in the survey, which was created by the reporters and asked questions about the candidate's homes, automobiles, and most intriguing, their yachts.

Immediately my investigative antennae perked up! What is it, I thought, that Ned could be hiding?

Does he have a massive motor yacht named after a sex slave harem, like Tom Foley does?

Does his yacht name betray a misogynistic philosophy, like Linda McMahon's yacht?

What exactly IS Ned hiding?

So, during a meeting with local bloggers last night, I decided to throw caution to the wind and challenge the candidate harshly on why it is he seems to be hiding his yacht from the voters.

His answer will astound you! Watch and see:

The video lighting was rather low, or else I'm sure you would have seen him break into a cold sweat under my intensive questioning! Chalk up another victory for the new media!

...and I'm expecting that call from CNN any day now!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Candidate Videos...All Of Them

One of the biggest concerns I hear from people about politics is that they rarely get to listen to the candidates talk at length about the issues. Too often, all we get are clever sound bites or heavily slanted political ads rather than simply the opportunity to listen to them talk.

Since January I've taped all the candidates that showed up at our Democratic Town Committee meetings and uploaded them to Youtube. Now I've collected all the videos and placed them on the right sidebar in chronological order for easy reference.

As I make more videos I'll post them at the top of the list. What you'll see is simply the candidates speaking and answering questions. I won't add any spin or "creatively edit" the videos in any way. I feel that this year's election is so important that we need voters to make their decisions based on how they directly perceive the qualities of the candidates, not who has the best ad agency making their commercials. What you will see here is simply what happened.

Which isn't to say that I won't continue to have some fun making my usual silly videos when the urge strikes, but none of those will find a home on that list on the right side of this page. You can use this page as a reference to see and hear what the candidates say in as unfiltered a format as possible.

Please copy and forward the links to the individual videos, and feel free to send your friends to for the latest candidate videos posted as they become available!

Denise Merrill and Nancy Wyman at the DTC

Here's two more videos from this week's DTC meeting:

Majority Leader Denise Merrill is running for Secretary of State, and at the meeting she received the endorsements of the three representatives who occupy the seats for the 117th, 118th, and 119th Assembly districts in Milford.

State Comptroller Nancy Wyman also spoke at the meeting and discussed the importance of electing a Democratic governor this year.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Dick Blumenthal at the Milford DTC

Attorney General Richard Blumenthal dropped in for the monthly Democratic Town Committee meeting. He made some brief remarks and then answered questions from our town committee members.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Mary Glassman at Milford DTC

Simsbury First Selectman and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Glassman spoke at our Democratic Town Committee meeting last night. Here's the video:

Mary Glassman's website is

More videos shortly, featuring Dick Blumenthal, Nancy Wyman, and Denise Merrill.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


President Barack Obama signs the healthcare legislation during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington, March 23, 2010.

(Photo: REUTERS/Jason Reed)

Sure, the new law isn't everything we wanted, but it's still way better than nothing!

And when I think of all the hostile teabaggers out there suffering paroxysms of anger and frustration, well, that's the icing on the cake!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Peter Schiff in virtual hysterics over HCR passage

GOP Senate candidate Peter Schiff has joined the general wailing and gnashing of teeth that's coming from the hysterical Republican right today in the wake of the successful passage of the health care reform bill.

From an email sent by his campaign:

"Sunday, March 21, 2010, will go down in the history books as the day democracy died in America"

The day democracy died? You gotta be kiddin' me, Pete! Have you ANY concept of what Democracy even IS?

Here, let me explain it to you, as you obviously missed that week in 3rd grade American History:
Americans go to the polls every two years to vote for our Congressmen and women. The ones who get the most votes win, and then the winners go to this really big building in Washington that has a round roof.

Once they get there, they talk about issues that are important to the American people. Which is what they've been doing with health care for the last year or so. When they get to the point that they're all talked out, they take a vote on the issue.

Last night, they voted on health care reform. The bill passed by a vote of 219-212.

That is the very definition of a living and breathing "democracy", my friend.

Any questions?
The bill passed because it got more votes from people who wanted it to pass, than from the people who hate health care reform and probably wish everybody was dead except for themselves and their privileged friends.

I suspect that Peter Schiff got Karl Rove to ghostwrite his letter for him, because there's all sorts of scary phrases in it. Things like "the brink of socialism" and talking about "czars" as if we're about to install the pre-Revolutionary Russian monarchy or something!

One thing I'd bet on, and that's if the Republicans somehow were in control of the House, we'd have zero reform on the books right now. In fact, if they were in charge, the only thing you can be certain of is that we'd continue to have the 15-35% yearly increases in the cost of health care coverage.

You can bank on that!

The entire text of the email is located HERE.

Yes We Did!

It may not be perfect, but it is a giant step in the right direction. And the Republicans will forever be known as the ones who politicized this much needed reform. History will not be kind to them.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

HCR vote schedule

The House will finally vote on health care reform today, via FireDogLake:
"...will begin around 2:00 pm ET. Three votes – potentially four – will be taken. First there will be a vote on the rule, with an hour of debate on it. Expect a vote around 3:00 ET. Then there will be two hours of debate on the reconciliation bill. That will get a vote around 5:00 ET. There would be no debate in between the reconciliation bill and the Senate bill, which would happen around 5:30 ET. If there is a motion to recommit, that would get sandwiched in before the vote on the reconciliation bill."
I would imagine most of the news channels will cover the important moments, and of course there's always C-SPAN online.

If there's any change in the schedule I'll try to update it here.

9:15PM UPDATE: Well, obviously Congressional time runs only about half as fast as time passes for us out here in the real world. I'm guessing they'll finally get to vote on the Senate bill around 10PM and maybe the reconciliation bill by 11PM. Hopefully.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Wouldn't it be great...

...if ALL our nation's representatives possessed even half the political courage and determination as my Congresswoman, Rosa DeLauro?

Here in Connecticut we're doing pretty darn good with our current Congressional delegation. I can only imagine what it's like to possess any sense of human empathy and be forced to live someplace like Texas.

Okay, so maybe it's not quite heaven on earth, but I can't see myself living anywhere else but here in the good ol' Constitution state.

Seven Years

While all this media attention is being lavished upon the big vote for health care reform, currently scheduled for tomorrow, we've reached another milestone in American history almost without anyone noticing.

Friday marked the seventh anniversary of the start of the war in Iraq.

I'm not quite so naive as to think that the moment Barack Obama took office he'd order an immediate withdrawal of all our troops from the war-ravaged nation. I realize that would lead to chaos and an inevitable need for our return to the region.

But I would like to see some positive signs that progress is being made.

Iraq just had another round of elections. There were many fewer photos of proud Iraqis holding up their purple stained fingers this time around. Because we've seen it all before, and nothing much seems to change.

In about six weeks, we'll celebrate another dubious anniversary:

"Mission Accomplished Day"

Can we maybe just declare victory, give a shitload of small arms and ammunition to the Iraqi military, and leave?

At least, can we do this sometime in the foreseeable future, please?

Jim Himes on the HCR bill

Rep. Jim Himes (CT-4) addressed Congress today in a one-minute speech in support of health care reform. From Jim's Youtube channel:
As Congress awaits the final vote on health care reform, Rep. Jim Himes (CT-4) gives a statement on the House floor urging his colleagues to join him in supporting the bill. Here Himes discusses the moral imperative of reform.

If Ned Lamont owned a Toyota...

...he'd be there already!

(get it? because the accelerators stick on Toyotas!)

I'll have more on the debate later, but I put together a quick video (33 seconds) about the traffic which prevented Ned Lamont from getting to the debate until a couple minutes after it started.

This was a great opportunity for a discussion on the transportation problems in the state, but as far as I recall nobody other than Lamont brought it up. I only wish I could have heard what he had on his mind, because he was obviously a bit fired up about it!

Watch and see:

"Ask me about transportation because I'm loaded for bear on that issue!"

That's perfect! Anyone who's been caught in the awful traffic in Connecticut on a Friday night knows exactly how Ned feels!

UPDATE: Brian Lockhart has a list of observations about last night's debate. Here's his first one:
"...Ned Lamont arrived a few minutes late for the event, hosted by WVIT Channel 30, blaming traffic. All that money and Lamont still doesn’t own a hover car or a transporter. What the heck?!"
Heh heh heh...why aren't there flying cars yet, anyway?

Friday, March 19, 2010

A game of chicken

Today I received an oversized envelope in the mail. When I ripped it open I found this little guy in there:

The first thing I thought of was, "Oh shit, who did I piss off NOW?!?" For a second I felt like Sonny Corleone opening that package to find the "Sicilian message" in it! Sure it wasn't a dead fish wrapped up in Luca Brasi's vest, but I wondered who'd send me something like that.

Then I saw a little card in the envelope, which said this:
"Hi. I'm Chicken Dick.

I'm afraid to debate Merrick Alpert again because he really cooked my goose the first time. He is young and bold, and takes clear positions on issues like job creation, health care, clean government, and Afghanistan.

My positions aren't clear because I believe in incrementalism; in small steps that don't ruffle feathers. On the other hand, I do love to sue Connecticut businesses.

Please help me hide - don't make me debate again.

Your Frightened Friend,
Chicken Dick

PS. Did I mention that my lawsuits create jobs?"
Ohhhhh! It's a little joke, a play on Dick Blumenthal's name and his supposed reticence about debating Merrick Alpert again!

Good, because at least I don't have to worry about getting all shot up at the toll booth on the causeway or anything. (yes, I'm a big fan of "The Godfather")

So I called Lev St. King, Alpert's communications director, and asked about the item. He replied that they were having a bit of fun at the Attorney General's expense, but they also wanted to make a strong point. I told him there was no doubt that the point was made.

A while later I got an email from the campaign, with Alpert's comment:
“I wanted to make sure that folks had a souvenir from the only Democratic Senate debate, since Mr. Blumenthal refuses to get back on stage and do it again."
Well, I'm sure this will succeed in bringing attention to the situation. I can imagine the local TV news having a bit of fun with it.

Alpert may be taking a risk with such a message, and I can see a potential for it to backfire on him. Some people will probably not get the joke, or feign righteous indignation. Regardless, it was a gutsy thing to do.

I guess you can't call Merrick "chicken".

UPDATE: Christine Stuart over at CT News Junkie has another photo of the chicken, plus a response from the Blumenthal campaign:
Blumenthal’s campaign spokeswoman Maura Downes called the attempt desperate.

“I’m sure he’s going to try anything he can to get his name in the newspaper, but if he wants to be taken seriously by Democrats and avoid the label of ‘fringe candidate,’ he may want to spend more time putting forward his own qualifications and platform and less time attacking his opponents,” Downes said.

In this week’s Quinnipiac University poll Blumenthal trampled Alpert in the Democratic primary 81 to 6 percent. The poll also found that 93 percent of the voters polled don’t know enough about Alpert to form an opinion.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Another Q-Poll is out

I don't know about you, but I find all the polling this far out just a bit silly. I typically dislike answering poll questions because I'm so terribly busy all the time (LOL!) and even though I shouldn't, whenever I see "Political Call" show up on the caller ID, I let it go to directly to voice mail.

But some of you guys obviously do answer the questions, because here's another Quinnipiac Poll. And of course, I have some thoughts about it.

In the governor's race, Tom Foley has a significant lead over his challengers for the Republican nod, while Ned Lamont and Dan Malloy are in a closer contest. Malloy has gained slightly, but still trails Lamont by 10 points. This is the third straight poll where Lamont has led Malloy by double digits.

However, in both races the undecided voters make up the largest margins; 44% for the Democrats and 50% for the Republicans. Which indicates that the candidates are going to have more work to do to get their message out to the voters.

This poll only addressed the primaries, not the general election (probably because of the complexity of this poll) so we can expect to see another poll sometime soon that discusses potential November match ups.

For Attorney General, current Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz holds a commanding lead with 54% of Democratic voters over George Jepsen's 10% and the rest of the field 2% or less.

Apparently we also want to buy booze on Sundays, and we don't like Keno or tolls.

Regarding the booze, I worry a bit for the mom & pop liquor stores that would be greatly inconvenienced if they had to work an extra day each week. I've lived under our state's liquor sales policy all my life, and honestly, I don't think it's that big a deal to take one day off a week from buying booze.

I somehow still manage to sufficiently punish my liver with a mere six days of shopping; I can easily live without a seventh.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Kucinich changes vote to Yes

Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), a man I greatly respect, has held out for a better health care reform bill for a long time now. He's one of the strongest supporters of government sponsored health care, which in a nation as wealthy as the USA, should have been enacted decades ago.

So the bill is now at a point where he feels, even though it isn't perfect, it's still a big step in the right direct. And Dennis has chosen to support it.

The vote for the final House version of the bill will likely take place this weekend. All our Congressmen NEED to hear from you regarding how you feel about health care reform. Their vote will depend on who they hear from in their districts. Contact them at these numbers and let them know that you support health care reform legislation:
Congressman John Larson (CT-1) Hartford (860) 278-8888 Washington (202) 225-2265

Congressman Joe Courtney (CT-2) Norwich (860) 886-0139 Washington (202) 225-2076 Enfield (860) 741-6011

Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (CT-3) New Haven (203)562-3718 Washington (202) 225-3661 Derby (203) 735-5005 Middletown (860) 344-1159 Naugatuck (203) 729-0204 Stratford (203) 378-9005

Congressman Jim Himes (CT-4) Bridgeport/Stamford (866) 453-0028 Washington (202) 225-5541

Congressman Chris Murphy (CT-5) New Britain (860) 223-8412 Washington (202) 225-4476 Meriden (203) 630-0815 Danbury (203) 798-2072

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Special Edition: Sunday Night Music Club XII

Welcome to a Tuesday edition of the Sunday Night Music Club, from Monday night in Hartford! I guess that makes this a very special "Tuesday Edition of the Sunday/Monday Night Music Club"!

Every Monday night, Tapas Downtown Hartford welcomes The Shinolas delivering Americana and roots to set the mood as you chow down on the restaurant's big, bold options. (Tapas information here)

The Shinolas features Jim Chapdelaine on guitars, Lorne Entress on drums, Paul Kochanski on bass and Ed Iarusso on pedal steel.

Mike & Tessa (pictured) have been after me for ages to see this band, and I'd heard about them elsewhere, like in Ed McKeon's blog Caterwauled; Ed has a great write-up about the band, so click on the link and check it out.

So CT Joyce & I joined them for the trek up to Hartford for an evening of tasty music and equally tasty food. We're glad we did! Enjoy this video I camera'd last night.

(...and I can't believe I got through an entire post without resorting to an obvious "Shinola" joke...)

Monday, March 15, 2010

Hearst article on candidate wealth

Yesterday's papers carried a story (today online via the CT Post) titled "The running of the rich: Is wealth changing Connecticut politics?", which examines the relative wealth of the candidates vying for election here in Connecticut.

The story's authors submitted a 16-question survey to each of the candidates and asked to take a picture in their living rooms.

Merrick Alpert declined to answer the survey, basically citing the frivolity of asking silly questions (my words, not his) like, what is your favorite restaurant and how much you pay for a haircut, while tens of thousands are unemployed in the state and 47 million Americans don't have health insurance.

As a result they left Alpert out of the story altogether. But the story DID cover Ned Lamont, who also declined to answer the questionnaire, so I wonder if the editors just didn't like Merrick's answer? Interesting.

The results of the questionnaire aren't necessarily earth shaking, as we're fairly well acquainted with the realities of the political landscape. But there are a few things that caught my attention.

Specifically, the question about boats and other recreational vehicles intrigued me. Did you know that Linda McMahon owns a 48-foot sport fisherman named "Sexy Bitch"?

Really, Linda? "Sexy Bitch"? Well, I guess you can forget about winning the "Betty Friedan Award for Feminism" any time soon.

(...I don't even know if that's a real award, but probably...)

Or that Tom Foley is listed as the owner of a 100-foot yacht named "Odalisque"?

Have you ever seen what you get when you do a Google image search of the word "odalisque" with SafeSearch turned off?

And why doesn't Foley register the boat in a US port rather than what sounds like some kind of offshore tax shelter?

(BTW, that's not a picture of the real "Odalisque" above, just what I imagine it to look like)

Rob Simmons owns a J/22 sailboat, which is a great daysailor/racing boat. J-Boats are built in Rhode Island and are very popular with people who enjoy being out on the water.

Peter Schiff owns a Beneteau 33 sailboat, which is nice enough, but of course it's made in Europe, just like his luxury automobiles. Did I ever mention that his company is called "Euro Pacific Capital"?

Dan Malloy owns a 28-foot power boat, which makes sense seeing as Stamford has a busy harbor and is located on the Sound.

I know Ned Lamont is a sailor, but since he chose not to participate in the survey, they didn't have specifics on any boat he might own.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Anyway, enough about the boats. I feel it's only fair if people who report on this story are held to the same standard as the candidates, so just like my pal Authentic Connecticut Republican did, I'm going to answer the questionnaire. My replies to the original questions are in italics:

1) How many residences do you own? What is the size of each house (including lot size)? How many rooms? What is the assessed value? Would you agree to have a photograph taken in your living room?

One, a modest 2 bedroom affair, maybe 1100 sq. feet, on a minuscule lot (which is great when it's time to cut the grass!) The last time I looked the tax assessment was $127K. But we own it outright, thank god.

2) Would you provide us a photocopy of the front sheet of your most recent IRS tax filing, including income, tax deductions and taxes paid?

Um, no? Let’s just say I’m very non-wealthy and leave it at that.

3) What are the years, makes and models of the personal vehicles owned or leased by you/for you and your immediate family members?

1994 Chevy Cavalier wagon, 1998 Jeep Cherokee. Both paid for, thank god.

My wife and I have only owned American cars, which we’ve always felt is the patriotic thing to do.

4) Are any boats, planes or recreational vehicles owned by you or leased by you or for you? If so, please provide the particulars.

We own a thirty year old J/30 sailboat, also made in the USA, which is fully paid off, thank god. The current value is maybe $18K. Upkeep is a big expense, our only indulgence.

5) What kind of watch do you wear?

Timex waterproof digital for sailing, otherwise I just look at my cell phone or find a sundial.

Oh, I do have a dressy-looking Seiko analog watch, but the battery died years ago and I only wear it to weddings and funerals. It’s kind of embarrassing if someone actually asks me what time it is.

6) Where was your most recent family vacation? Where did you stay?

On our boat, Long Island Sound, various anchorages. We always drop the hook rather than pay for a slip, which can be a bit pricey.

7) Where do you buy your business attire?

Um, what’s “business attire”?

8) Where do your children attend school?

None kids, but if we had any rugrats they’d go to public schools.

9) Are you a member of any private clubs – country clubs, dinner clubs, etc.?

No. We do belong to a paper yacht-racing club, but dues are only $100 per year and we’re expected to pitch in and help run the races and events.

10) How much do you pay for a haircut/hairstyling? Where do you go?

Nothing. CT Joyce cuts my hair. Can’t you tell?

11) What is your favorite alcoholic beverage?

What isn’t? (LOL)

12) Do you have any hobbies?

See #6, also cross-country skiing, hiking, and bicycling. Anything healthy, and inexpensive or free. Free especially. Free is good. is a great resource for hiking/biking trails. And Google Maps has just started showing bicycling trails as one of the “More” options. It’s really awesome.

13) What restaurant do you most frequently patronize?

Currently Incas Peruvian Restaurant, located steps from our house. Every day I can smell those delicious meals being prepared. It’s just not fair when I’m on a diet. Like now.

14) With what insurance company do you have family health coverage? Is it employer-provided? What are your own monthly premiums? Deductibles and co-pays?

US Healthcare, company provided with a monthly premium, at least until I get laid off soon. After that, who knows? Maybe I’ll just show up at the Emergency Room and demand treatment, like what all those Tea Baggers insist is a good health care solution for the unemployed.

15) Do you employ any household staff? If so, please detail.


Oh wait, you were serious?

16) How much did you donate to charity last year? What charity is the principal recipient of your donations?

Cash-wise, probably under $500; but many in-kind labor and material donations. I usually don’t keep track, but so far this year I’ve contributed over 60 hours of my spare time for the city’s government access cable channel.

And all this was after the GOP-dominated Board of Alderman voted me off the Committee for blatantly partisan reasons.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

So, that's the questionnaire. However, they forgot a few important (some might say cynical) questions they should have included.

Of course, I'm more than willing to include them here:

"Which megalithic corporate entity are you planning to sell us out to?"

"Have you ever not paid your taxes/professional fees/Christmas Club deposits?"

"Do you employ a nanny of undocumented alien status?"

...and finally,

"Can we have a photo of the mistress that will eventually cause you to resign from office?"

Lee Whitnum joins senate race

Posted without comment, from her website
Today, March 10, 2010, Lee Whitnum announced her candidacy for the United States Senate for the State of Connecticut. Whitnum, shown center with Senator Dodd during the J-Street lobbying effort in October, 2009. "Our meeting with Dodd was so disappointing, it was instrumental in my decision to run." J-Street is committed to peace in the Middle East. "Israel's decision yesterday, to build 1,600 more settlement homes, in defiance of our President, was also crucial to my decision. Our president will need Senators who are willing to stand next to him as he faces the greatest challenge of his presidency."

In 2008, Whitnum ran for congress in the fourth Congressional District in Connecticut.

Lee's latest book (due out in May, 2010): Anti-AIPAC not Anti-Semitic: A Patriot’s Guide to Breaking the Israel Lobby’s Control.

She is the author of two novels: Hedge Fund Mistress, a mainstream novel. And, What About the Dead? A young adult novel.

Harvard University – a Master’s degree (edm.) in Administration, Planning and Social Policy
University of Maryland, BS – Computer Science

Whitnum lives in Greenwich, CT is a never-married, single woman.
Okay I lied, I will comment. Her announcement doesn't specify any party, but in 2008 Whitnum ran as a Democrat against Jim Himes, losing the Democratic primary to him by a humongous margin.

(...and that's the first time I've used the word "humongous" in a blog post. Thank god for spell check!)

Friday, March 12, 2010

National Coffee Party Day

Saturday March 13th is the date to kick off a brand new movement, the "National Coffee Party".

Over the last year or so, the mainstream media has been trumpeting the "Tea Party Movement" and giving their extremist views with racist undertones ridiculous amounts of publicity; while providing little or no coverage of the Left's views on the national debate.

So a few forward-thinking activists decided to inject some common sense and reasoning into the dialog with this new movement. And the National Coffee Party was born!

The simple mission statement (from their website) is this:
The Coffee Party Movement gives voice to Americans who want to see cooperation in government. We recognize that the federal government is not the enemy of the people, but the expression of our collective will, and that we must participate in the democratic process in order to address the challenges that we face as Americans. As voters and grassroots volunteers, we will support leaders who work toward positive solutions, and hold accountable those who obstruct them.
In other words, be part of the solution, not part of the problem!

Having come up with the concept, it was a simple matter of spreading the word, and networking with like-minded individuals via Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, and of course, their website

Imagine how refreshing it will be for a group of involved citizens to meet up and calmly discuss the issues and possible solutions, without nutjob extremists screaming nonsense and making it resemble a rally from a Leni Reifenstal movie! (can you guess to whom I'm referring?)

I'm looking forward to seeing the results of the many Coffee Parties scheduled around the nation. Take a look at their map to see what's scheduled for Saturday. A brief look at their Google map of Coffee Parties around the nation only turns up one that's happening in Connecticut on Saturday, a gathering in Sandy Hook with details viewable here.

I'm thinking that if this thing catches on, there's a really great coffee shop here in Milford with free wifi and lots of yummy treats, and I'm sure they'd love to have a group of constructive and intelligent people enjoy an evening of discussion and fun there! If you think this is a good idea, email me or leave a comment and if I get a good response, I'll organize it for later this month.

PS - Notice how I got through an entire post without saying "Tea Baggers" even once? I'm so proud of myself. It makes me wonder what the wingnuts are gonna call us. I'll bet they're working overtime right now trying to think of something clever, like "Coffee beaners", or "Java garglers", or even "CappucciNuts"...

...Nah, I don't think they're that clever!

Conn. protesters storm insurance lobbiests in DC

Sharon Bass reported on a protest against insurance lobbyists in Washington DC earlier this week for CT News Junkie:
A handful of Connecticut activists joined thousands of like-minded souls in Washington, D.C., Tuesday to get in the face of the health-insurance lobby during its annual policy conference at the swanky Ritz-Carlton Hotel.
Bass did a wonderful job covering the event, with detailed descriptions that captured the mood very effectively. Reading her account made me feel as if I witnessed the actual protest.

Tom Swan from the Connecticut Citizen's Action Group (CCAG) was part of the protest.

For a very detailed account of a well-organized political protest, I highly recommend you read the entire article, which includes video and more photos, over at CT News Junkie.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

A chat with Sec. State candidate Gerry Garcia

The other night I was invited to a local pub to chat with former New Haven alderman Gerry Garcia about his run for Secretary of State.

I found Gerry to be very engaging and earnest about the office, and optimistic about his chances. With at least a three-way race for the Democratic nomination looming (against House Majority Leader Denise Merrill, and State Senator and former West Hartford mayor Jonathan Harris) Garcia feels he'll have the widest appeal throughout the state.

Garcia spoke about the issues facing our state and ways to increase voter participation, especially after a disappointingly low turnout during the 2009 elections. "We need to get more people voting," Garcia said. "I'm in favor of early voting similar to the system in use in California." California allows registered voters to opt to vote by mail rather than by going to the polls to vote.

He also suggested same day voter registration to encourage increased voter participation. Other states have successfully implemented the same-day scheme to good effect.

As a way to help distribute and disseminate election information, Garcia thinks the voting results should be made available on the Secretary of State's website within a day or two after the results are known, categorized down to individual precincts. Personally, I feel this would be a useful way of knowing how involved various communities are, and help locate areas that need assistance either with registrations or voter turnout.

Gerry Garcia has signed on to participate in the Citizen's Election Program, and is currently gathering the necessary contributions to reach the threshold for the program. Each candidate for Secretary of State needs to raise a minimum of $75,000 in individual amounts no more than $100 each. His website, which has a way to contribute along with info on the candidate, is

The New Haven Independent has a good write up and video of New Haven Mayor John DeStefano giving his endorsement to Garcia and pledging to deliver most, if not all of New Haven's 81 votes at the State Democratic Convention in May.

The video below is from Gerry's recent talk with the Milford Democrats:

Besides my video, here's another DTC visit by Garcia, this time to Windsor, in a Facebook video.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Malloy makes it official

(photo by Christine Stuart/CT News Junkie)

Dan Malloy announced he is definitely running for governor today. Malloy, former long time mayor of Stamford, said in his speech:
“Connecticut is still a great state, but the fact is we’ve fallen behind,” said Malloy. “Our problem isn’t that we can’t do better, it’s that we don’t demand better. I’m running for Governor because I’m tired of watching Hartford from the outside and seeing it mired in mediocrity. I want to lead the charge in demanding a better, more vibrant Connecticut.”

Continued Malloy, “Connecticut has become a place where being dead last in job growth doesn’t raise an eyebrow. Having the worst achievement gap in the country gets yawned at. Having more debt per capita than any state in the nation gets accepted as a way of life. Getting shut out of federal funding gets a shrug of the shoulders. Enough’s enough – it’s time to demand better.”
Ned Lamont commented today on Dan's announcement saying, "I welcome Dan to the race. Connecticut is facing significant challenges, and I look forward to a serious discussion of the best way to bring jobs back our towns and cities and get our state back on track."

I'm sure a lot of politics junkies in the state are looking forward to seeing these two candidates face off in a debate, which I'm hoping will occur well before the state convention in three months.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Schiff says to invest in offshore gold

Republican senate candidate and financial pitchman Peter Schiff once again is encouraging Americans to invest in overseas funds rather than work to bolster the US economy.

At a gathering of Tea Party supporters in North Haven (as reported in the CT Mirror) Schiff extolled the virtues of buying gold offshore and burying it in your backyard. Coincidentally, Schiff also announced that he's close to launching a company named "Euro Pacific Precious Metals".

Guess what you can buy from them?

Schiff is somewhat famous in the financial community, sometimes called "Dr. Doom" for his negative forecasts regarding the US economy. His cynical prognostications are somewhat self-serving, considering he is the owner of "Euro Pacific Capital", a brokerage firm that lists TWO major continents in its name that don't include the one where the United States is located!

"Do you expect me to talk?"
"No Mr. Bond, I expect the US economy to die!"

In nearly every single news story about this guy, they refer to how he brilliantly predicted the economic crisis a few years before it happened. Let me tell you something; all Schiff did was look at the numbers and make some projections. I have a friend who was telling me the exact same thing way back in early 2006, only he wasn't on CNBC saying it. At the time, I was very busy covering the 2006 senate campaign and essentially brushed his concerns aside.

And that's exactly what the financial community did back then. Many people absolutely knew the market wasn't sustainable and a crash was inevitable. Instead of trying to fix it, all they did was figure out ways to cash in before the bubble burst!

By the way, I now firmly believe that my friend is the reincarnation of Nostradamus, and I insist he only speak to me in quatrains!
Schiff sees the U.S. economy unraveling. The debt is unsustainable, made tolerable for the moment only by interest rates kept artificially low by a meddling central bank, the Federal Reserve.

He likens the government's fiscal and monetary policies to a Ponzi scheme, destined to collapse when when China and other foreign lenders finally cut off credit.

"At some point, they are going to look at the U.S. and decide we can't pay it back," he said.

The dollar will crash. Interest rates will rise, fueling inflation that could leave currency worthless. And that's where the gold comes in.

"You have to have real money, gold and silver," Schiff said. (emphasis mine)
Schiff also compared the future US economy to the runaway inflation of the post-WWI German Weimar Republic.

Now here is Peter Schiff, and instead of suggesting long-term solutions and a workable plan to economic recovery, he tells the gullible crowd at the gathering (and let's face it; these people don't set the bar very high when it comes to skepticism) that the best solution is to buy gold from Australia and bury in their backyards.

"I love gooooooold!"

Schiff may have a long way to go to convince these people he's the one they should support. The Tea Partiers try to wrap themselves in a veneer of Libertarianism, but all too often their own words betray them as far-right Republicans:
It was unclear if Schiff found the right demographic at the Holiday Inn for his pitch about gold or his candidacy. Organizers had to pass the hat to offset the $650 cost of the conference room, and not even Tea Party leaders like predicting where the movement's activists will show up on election day.

Tanya Bachand, one of the organizers, said she likes Schiff's economic message, but a significant portion of the movement are opposed to abortion.

"He's pro-choice, and that's difficult," she said. (emphasis mine)
That, coupled with Schiff's reluctance to commit to tightening the borders against illegal immigrants, may make his candidacy a tough sell to the TPers.

Me, I'm gonna get a list of the dupes who attended the event, and buy myself a metal detector and a shovel!

Sunday, March 07, 2010

A clueless Republican in 4th CD race

CTBob: Dan Debicella may be trying to capitalize on some Tea Bagger-esque anti-Congress feelings, but that doesn't hide the fact that the guy is absolutely clueless when it comes to the facts! He even contradicts his OWN Governor.

Judging from his fundamental comprehension problems, the 4th CD is in DEEP trouble if this guy somehow manages to slither into office!

(reposted from the New Canaan Democrats)

Debicella vs. Rell
by David Kostek

Last week, the New Canaan Republican Town Committee endorsed Dan Debicella of Shelton in the race to challenge Congressman Jim Himes. Debicella responded to the news of receiving New Canaan GOP support, and took the opportunity to demonstrate how little he knows about the work of Congress:
“Every family should ask themselves, ‘What have I gotten from the stimulus?’ and the answer from almost everyone is nothing,” Debicella said.
That comment is amazing. Let’s contrast it with the comments of Governor Rell, who has to actually govern:
Quarterly review of federal stimulus funds and the initiatives they support show gains in jobs created and retained as well as a dramatic increase in spending for assistance programs, health and welfare services, the environment and crime prevention, Governor M. Jodi Rell said today.

“We have been able to keep thousands of people working, particularly in education, and provide safety nets for those who have lost their jobs in this unstable economy,” Governor Rell said.
Crime prevention. Keeping your neighbors in jobs. Keeping your schools staffed properly. Extending unemployment benefits. Oh, and providing a $275 BILLION income tax cut to 95% of American tax payers. In the face of these documentable facts, Debicella claims that families in Fairfield county got “nothing.”

Let’s do some REAL numbers for Dan (again, all reported to the governor by state agencies in her Republican administration):
* Jobs created/retained – 6,184 (up from 6,110 in October)
* Unemployment benefits – $1.1 billion
* Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program – $59 million
* General Assistance – More than 7,400 home-delivered meals to Connecticut senior citizens
* Health – 5,000 additional rotavirus vaccinations administered to children
* Public Safety – 130 Internet Crimes against Children cases have been opened, more than doubling the number (54) in October; 10 full-time forensic officers have been hired; 6,369 DNA profiles have been processed, compared to 39 in October
* Energy and the Environment – 90 more Department of Transportation trucks have been retrofitted to reduce diesel emissions (bringing the total to 140); 700 more housing units have received energy audits through the Weatherization Program and 180 units have been weatherized
Debicella offers nothing more that GOP talking points. Congressional Democrats offer real solutions to real problems. If you can’t even SEE the problems people face, Dan, you don’t deserve to represent them.

Found Art: Domolition

Milford. March 6, 2010.
Beware Domo.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Larry Kirwan and Black 47

Musician and author Larry Kirwan will be doing a reading from his new novel, "Rockin' The Bronx", at the Labyrinth Bookstore (Google map) 290 York St. in New Haven at 6PM Thursday March 11th and then playing with Black 47 at Toads later in the evening for an 8:30PM show.

Here's a video I shot back in 2007 with a crappy Fuji digital camera. Notice the extremely clever way I spliced in a second angle during the chorus to make it look like a fancy two-camera shoot. Yes, I'm that good! Hell, I won't be surprised if you can't hear the music over the thundering sound of my overwhelming awesomeness!

Friday, March 05, 2010

AG candidates at the Milford DTC

Last week at our monthly DTC meeting (the one where we allowed you-know-who to speak) two candidates for Attorney General spoke.

Susan Bysiewicz ( discussed her many accomplishments from her years as Secretary of State, and what she would do if elected Attorney General.

Former state senate Majority Leader George Jepsen ( also spoke and discussed why he is seeking the office.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Chris Shays discusses deep doo-doo

Former Congressman Chris Shays helpfully crawled out from under his rock in Maryland and, because he saw his shadow, we're now faced with six more weeks of his bullshit.

In an email to Lennie Grimaldi's Only in Bridgeport and Tom Dudchek's CT Capitol Report, Shays used some uncharacteristically scatological language to describe the state's financial situation.

Hmm...Shays is using naughty language? Just who does he think he is...a blogger?!?

From Capitol Report:
'Betsi and I wrestled with the fact I would relish the challenge of leading our state; felt a moral obligation to step forward; and believed I could effectively move our state government in a different direction.

The fact is "the state is in deep shit." I say it that way because folks in Hartford (press included) and the public seem to have no clue how bad things are.
Never mind what he and Betsi wrestled with, Shays doesn't mention anything new nor helpful, and his comments can simply be seen as his typical self-serving quest for attention. Everybody's gonna be all like, "Gee, he used a naughty word! This fella' must mean business!"

That thing about "the folks in Hartford and the public" not having a clue how bad things are is something of an insult. Apparently we're all saddled with the intellectual capacity of pre-schoolers, because we're simply too stupid to realize that there's a budget crisis going on!

Well thank god that Chris is here to fix everything! I'm sure he'll leap into the governor's race and run a great campaign and win and take care of that mess in Hartford:
That's a challenge I could have sunk my teeth in. But for the present I have a different role.
Oh. Okay, fine. Well, thanks for all the help, Chris.

There goes a guy who really knows his shit!

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Photo exhibit displays Connecticut politicians

Connecticut photographer Tim Coffey currently has an exhibit of his unique portraits of 55 past and present Connecticut politicians at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford.

When I'd asked her if she'd seen it yet, Christine Stuart from CT News Junkie raved about the exhibit, so I decided to help publicize it. Click the image above to enlarge it and get an idea of the portraits exhibited.

From a press release:
Stamford Photographer Tim Coffey has photographed 55 of the state’s leading politicians for a photography exhibit that will open Monday, March 1st at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford . The title of the exhibit is "The Art of Politics". Included in the exhibit is Connecticut’s full Congressional delegation and many of the state’s leaders from both political parties.

Dodd, Fedele, Lieberman, McKinney , Blumenthal, Cafero, Bysiewicz, McMahon, Malloy, Weicker, and Lamont are just some of the politicians Coffey photographed. (See below for the full list of those who participated.)

Over a three month span, Coffey made repeated trips to Hartford and traveled to various towns and cities throughout the state to take the portraits. Each politician is dramatically lit against a black background. Unique to this exhibit, Coffey asked each politician questions about today’s political landscape. A quote from each is included with each portrait.
The exhibit runs from now through March 12th. The LOB is open weekdays 8 am to 5 pm. (It is not open on weekends this time of year.) The exhibit is hung in the Upper Concourse, the long corridor which connects the LOB to the Capitol building.

There is a stand alone website for the exhibit: This is a way for more people to see the exhibit who might have a tough time traveling to Hartford.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

More on the debate

This morning there's a lot of analysis of the Senate debate last night featuring Attorney General Dick Blumenthal and Mystic businessman Merrick Alpert.

Christine Stuart has a great write up over at CT News Junkie. I sat next to Christine in the press section, which was in the last two rows in the side section even though the theater was roughly half empty. We mostly resorted to taking handwritten notes because we didn't know they allowed laptops into the theater. They banned all cameras from the theater as if the dissemination of a photo or two of the debate would have brought about the end of the free world.

Another reporter commented that she was jealous that I was taking notes with a black fine-point Bic Grip-Roller pen, which made my notes very readable in the darkened theater while she thoughtlessly brought only a pencil. Rookie. She often had to use her Blackberry to illuminate her work. She also coughed several times during the debate, and I gave a thought to loudly "shushing" her, but decided against it.

(I learned in journalism school that using minor details like these often help illustrate a story while simultaneously boring the living shit out of the reader)

CT Blogger posted videos from the debate over at My Left Nutmeg, and Jon Kantrowitz also discussed the debate there.

Aldon Hynes has his take over at Orient Lodge.

The crowd in the theater was well behaved as there were no Tea Baggers present. Outside, there were roughly 15 members of a carpenter's union showing their support for Blumenthal, while maybe a half-dozen Alpert boosters held signs and answered questions.

After the event members of the media were somewhat annoyed that the attorney general left immediately. From what I'd heard, there was an understanding that Mr. Blumenthal would be available for the Q&A backstage right after the debate. Mr. Alpert presented himself for questions, and I have the entire Q&A video below.

Note: I just bought a mono-pod to hold the camera more steady, but I didn't realize how much I was swinging the camera side to side. I promise on my next video to hold it much steadier. You have to agree that even working journalists like myself have a bit of a learning curve when it comes to new equipment.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Some DTCs not allowing Alpert to speak

According to an opinion piece written by Merrick Alpert in the Hartford Courant, Alpert claims he was denied the opportunity to speak at several Democratic Town Committee meetings in the state:
"...I have been locked out of Democratic town committee meetings out of fear that the rank and file members of the party might hear my message."
Following tonight's Senate debate in Hartford with Richard Blumenthal (I'll have more tomorrow) Alpert answered questions. I brought up the Courant piece, as I'm a member of the Milford Democratic Town Committee.

As a Democrat, if this is true I find it reprehensible that any DTC would deny the opportunity for a declared Democratic candidate for national office to speak to their members. Alpert appeared at the Milford DTC recently and was welcomed even by those who are firmly in favor of Richard Blumenthal. Because our party is supposed to be big enough to hear all voices.

Tonight on the 11:00 News on WFSB-3, they mentioned the issue which I brought up. It felt good that one of my questions prompted coverage by the local news. Like I'm a real journalist that brought up a valid question or something!

Alpert answered my question below: