Monthly Archives: July 2006

Land of Steady Habits?

We have this image of ourselves as “The Land of Steady Habits,” a state that changes only reluctantly and is sort of permanently mired in the past.

But, in fact, Connecticut is one of the most radical states outside crazy Louisiana in terms of its politics.

The best evidence is that incumbent senators everywhere in America don’t lose unless they’re so crooked that John Rowland would admire their criminal skills. It’s a job for life for almost everyone, if they want to keep it.

But in Connecticut primaries we bounced an incumbent senator — Thomas Dodd — not so long ago and probably will toss out another one this year.

We tossed Lowell Weicker aside as a senator in 1988 to put Joe Lieberman in office and then turned around two years later and made Weicker governor — as an independent!

Then, in one of the most true blue states in the nation, we elected Rowland, a Republican, as governor not once, not twice, but three times — and then we forced him out of office for being crooked.

While all that was going on, we elected Thomas Dodd’s son, Chris, as senator and kept him in the seat all these years since. I guess we wanted to make amends to the family.

Really, the only steady habit in this land is Dick Blumenthal as attorney general scrambling to find a tv camera. I’m sure he’s pretty frustrated, come to think of it, at having no luck at all lately in getting any air time.

And come November, we’re going to elect as our next senator either a now unaffiliated Lieberman — oh, all right, a Connecticut for Lieberman Party candidate — or a multi-millionaire Greenwich businessman who never stopped to think why his Fairfield County country club didn’t have blacks or Jews in it until he started running as a Democrat this year.

There’s nothing steady about our habits.

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I don’t really like Ned Lamont

Okay, I finally met the man.

I expected to be wowed. I thought I’d walk away thinking he was half rock star, half JFK. Instead, I left with the distinct impression that Lamont is an arrogant asshole.

Now I recognize that he might be much better than he came across to me. First impressions aren’t everything. He could be the swell fellow that most bloggers seem to think.

But what struck me was a certain distance, a kind of coldness, a bit of patrician haughtiness — the kind of thing I’m used to seeing among lawyers, politicians and school administrators (and a few ministers, come to think of it).

Now I realize some people think Joe Lieberman is also a condescending jerk. But in my experience, he’s been friendly, reasonable and willing to go out of his way for meaningless but nice things for people. I like him.

Unfortunately, I don’t much like Lieberman’s politics. I always had problems with some of his agenda and lately it seems like I can’t stomach most of what he’s doing. Maybe I’m less tolerant than I used to be. In Bush’s America, tolerance is not much valued anyway. In any case, I wish Lieberman would try harder to represent Connecticut.

I still think I’ll vote for Lamont, to protest the war mostly. But I won’t feel too bad if Lieberman wins. He’s a good man, despite what you read.

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At least Malloy didn’t attack Slifka

But, then, what could he say?

“Slifka’s town has more Starbucks per capita than anyplace outside California!”

“Slifka’s town has more cops than crime!”

“Slifka’s town has so much money that it’s planning to build a public mini-golf course!”

“Slifka’s town has more overdue library books than any Connecticut city!”

It just wouldn’t work.

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Malloy turns vicious

A mailer from Dan Malloy, gubernatorial hopeful, rips into challenger John DeStefano the way you’d expect, well, the Republicans to do it.

First it trumpts the question: “DOES THIS LOOK LIKE THE RECORD OF SOMEONE WHO CAN MAKE CONNECTICUT BETTER?” and then it tells us that as mayor New Haven, DeStefano “proposed a 9 percent increase in property taxes this year” and is leader of “one of the most dangerous cities in Connecticut” (DeStefano must be glad for Hartford!) and that New Haven has “one of the worst bond ratings in the state” as well as possessing a “weak record of economic development” and having to pay thousands of dollars in election fines.

“That’s the real DeStefano record. No wonder all John DeStefano can do is throw mud at Dan Mally,” it continues.

My oh my.

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John Larson is blowing it

John Larson

In a story in The Hill, a pretty good paper covering Congress, there’s some harsh criticism of our very own congressman, party boy John Larson.

According to the July 27th story, which is about fundraising by Democratic leaders, “some Democratic sources faulted the fundraising of Rep. John Larson (D-Conn.) during his first six months as caucus vice chairman, criticizing him for not using his newfound clout to step up fundraising. Many House Democrats expect their leaders to be exemplars of robust fundraising.”

“Larson’s leadership political action committee, Synergy PAC, did step up its contributions shortly after the Jan. 31 election, making 20 contributions in March totaling $42,500. But in April, activity tapered off. In the entire second quarter, Synergy made only $7,000 in donations,” the story said.

But don’t worry. Even if fellow Democrats weren’t getting any money from Larson, a poverty-stricken Indian tribe in Connecticut got some: “On May 31, Synergy paid the Mohegan Indian tribe in Uncasville, Conn., $17,175 for ‘“PAC fundraiser, catering and entertainment.'”

Larson is also one of the few Democras to contribute to the legal defense fund of Rep. William Jefferson of Lousiana, who is accused of taking bribes. I can’t think of more deserving recipient of Larson’s largesse.

The story goes on: 

“Larson’s campaign committee fared even worse than his leadership PAC. Aside from DCCC dues, the committee made only two contributions in the first half of the year, $2,000 each to Reps. Jim Marshall (D-Ga.) and Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.), according to campaign-finance disclosures.

“On dues, however, Larson has kept ahead of his colleagues. He has donated $325,000 of the $400,000 he owes, putting him well ahead of the 50 percent threshold.

“The DCCC also indicates that he has been active raising money. He raised $316,000 so far this cycle for the committee.

“Larson was the weakest fundraiser among the candidates for vice chairman, but he prevailed on other strengths. Many members cited his popularity as a key factor. He also received a pivotal behind-the-scenes endorsement from Pelosi, multiple Democratic sources said.”

Well, thank goodness he’s keeping Pelosi happy.

But if he can’t do better by his party, he’ll be as much of a Rising Star on Capitol Hill as Hartford is among New England cities.

I find the whole thing distasteful, but if the man wants to play the game, he damn well ought to play it better than he is. 
 

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Remembering why Joe Lieberman is a nice guy

LiebermanAndTrooper 

There’s a good piece by a state trooper in The Village Soup, some tiny Maine paper, about guarding Sen. Lieberman for an afternoon back in 2002. What does it matter? Because it shows — or reminds us — that Joe is a real person, a nice one, and not just the cardboard character he sometimes seems on blogs across America.

Take a minute and read the piece: Real Life Stories from a Main State Trooper

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A beaming Scott Slifka

Slifka-DeStefano

The political mail pouring into Democratic homes in West Hartford is astounding each day. A lot of trees died thanks to these primaries.

But I especially enjoyed this one from the DeStefano-Slifka team that arrived yesterday. Scott looks so young and happy standing beside New Haven’s more veteran politician. In fact, he looks something like a college intern hanging out with some grizzled old pol as they tour factories and shake hands with bedazzled constituents.

We’re supposed to say to ourselves, “Hey, look at that. There’s our boy Scott with that DeStefano fella & since I like Scott, I really ought to vote for those guys.”

Look at that advertising slogan: “Together with John DeStefano, West Hartford’s Scott Slifka is ready to move Connecticut forward.”

That’s great, even if we know darn well that if DeStefano somehow wins, Scott will spend the next four years wandering the state, going to an endless series of insipid little events aimed at bolstering the Democratic base without getting in DeStefano’s way. That’s okay, though. I like Scott. I do wish him well. 

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