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Saturday, August 13, 2005

Too hot to blog

I'm outta here. Too hot to sit in front of a computer, I'm running for the air conditioner.

What's happening in CT?

Friday, August 12, 2005

Cindy Sheehan ad


Download the ad here (quicktime format)

From The Raw Story
The above ad, paid for by Gold Star Families for Peace, will air on Crawford cable channels near Bush's ranch. The total ad buy is currently $15,000. The group plans to air the ad throughout August and wherever Bush visits during his vacation.

Sheehan's son, Casey, was an Army mechanic who was killed just five days after arriving in Iraq.

Decency is not in them

Cindy SheehanI just read this beautiful post from a fellow blogger via dailykos and I thought I should share it with you. It sums up what is so disgusting with the right-winged smear machine which is currently in full attack mode over Cindy Sheehan.

From the Cunning Realist

Even when something really outrages me, usually that outrage gives way to a bit of calm, measured thinking. With the Cindy Sheehan story, that's not the case.

If one needed any further proof that this incarnation of "Republicans" and alleged conservatives includes a faction that has gone completely and tragically over the edge, the smear campaign against Cindy Sheehan is it. For those who might not be familiar with the details of this and are looking for an accurate, factual account, a good summary appears here.

The essence of the right-wing smear machine's "outing" of Cindy Sheehan is her supposed flip-flop from supporting President Bush in 2004 to disapproving of him in 2005. As details of this have become clearer, it's obvious the flip-flop is nothing more than a canard. But setting aside the Sheehan story for a moment, have any of the shameless smearsters seen the public opinion polls recently? Here's some breaking news for them: a whole lot of Americans who supported Bush a year ago---including an increasingly large part of his "base"---have turned against him. And that includes many millions of people who haven't lost a parent, child, or sibling in Iraq.

There are so many side issues of shamelessness and crass opportunism in this story it makes my head spin. Think about the gall of a political and media machine "accusing" a private citizen of changing her mind (imagine that!) about an elected and supposedly accountable public official. When did a private citizen supposedly changing her opinion about something rise to the same level as a flip-flop about firing anyone involved in the leaking a CIA agent's name? At what point did the ability to change one's mind about a politician become something to be ridiculed and accused of instead of cherished as a basic right? And it's not as if in the past year we haven't learned anything about the pre-war manipulation of intelligence, as well as the incompetent planning, that resulted in the death of Cindy Sheehan's son and thousands of others like him.

Something else about this story that infuriates me is the vision of feckless, smarmy smearsters and cowards hiding behind keyboards in cities like Washington and New York (and yes, Miami), punching out electronic missives in a pathetic and desperate attempt to impugn the integrity of a woman sitting in the dust and August heat of Texas---a woman who, along with her dead son, embodies everything that's right about this country. The growing division between the professional class of spinning punditry and the vast expanse of Middle America that actually does the working, the fighting and the dying so the pundits can spend their time chattering has never been more clear than with this story.
Bravo!

More bad news for Newton

I guess when it rain, it pours.

Seems like the feds are now investigating if State Senator Ernest Newton for mail fraud and racketeering from his 2004 re-election campaign.

From the Connecticut Post

A federal grand jury ordered Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz to turn over all hard copy and electronic records on the race, in which Newton, D-Bridgeport, handily beat Republican Jerry A. Blackwell, 14,628 votes to 4,509. The district includes Bridgeport's East Side and part of Stratford's South End.

The records detail tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions and the way Newton paid campaign workers last year. Possible violations of racketeering and mail fraud statutes could be part of the grand jury's purview, sources said.

[...]

A spokesman for Senate majority Democrats said that the caucus, which recently stripped Newton of a ceremonial title worth $1,000 a year, is maintaining a wait-and-see attitude on the veteran lawmaker's legal problems. The three-page federal order for Newton's election records, released by Bysiewicz under the state's Freedom of Information Act, represents an expansion of the federal investigation, which last week netted a guilty plea for bribery that did not name, but apparently implicated, Newton.



At this point, you have to ask how much longer can Newton be a effective senator for the people in his district in Bridgeport. If the democrats don't apply presure on him to resign, this Newton scandal will leave a black cloud over the party as a whole because voters will view the democrats no better than the republicans who sat back and did nothing while charges mounted on their leader disgraced ex-governor John Rowland.

The evidence against Newton is mounting with each passing day and he should do what's best for the party and the state and resign.

Pentagon's math doesn't add up

Connecticut raised the pressure on BRAC as they challenge the Pentagon's base closing estimates and now it seems that the members on the commission are concerned with the numbers also.

From the Hartford Courant

The estimate for the Naval Submarine Base in Groton - $23 million to clean up a 90-year-old base that houses nuclear submarines - became a symbol of the commissioners' skepticism and concern that the Pentagon's numbers are far too low. The Pentagon has estimated the cost of cleaning up all bases at $1 billion.

"It doesn't seem realistic to me," commission Chairman Anthony Principi said during a hearing Thursday, referring to the Groton estimate.

BRAC commissioners met in the Hart Senate Office Building to ask 11th-hour questions about two of the most contentious topics of the current round of base-closing recommendations: environmental cleanup costs and the homeland security ramifications of moving Air National Guard units.

Both issues are critical for Connecticut, which stands to lose both the Groton base and its A-10 fighter planes from the 103rd Fighter Wing at Bradley airport. Later this month, the commission will begin deliberations to finalize a list of bases to forward to President Bush. One of the chief rationales given for the Pentagon list are long-term cost savings that will accrue from closing dozens of bases and downsizing others.

Commissioner Harold W. Gehman Jr., a former admiral, said that although the Pentagon did not factor in total cleanup costs for the heavy metals, solvents, petroleum products, pesticides and unexploded ordnance found on these bases - believing those costs would be figured elsewhere in the federal budget - the commission has to. Ultimately, he said, the commission must recommend closures that would generate funds for a transformation of the military. To that end, he asked, "How can we reconcile your [Pentagon's]recommendations?"

Commissioner Phillip Coyle wanted to know if there was an equation for estimating how far off the estimates are. "We're looking for some way to get a ballpark figure," he said. "Otherwise, I don't see how we can have any confidence in [Department of Defense] estimates."

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Danbury IMC lives to see another day

Thanks to all who help out the Danbury Independent Media Center as they rasied enough funds to stay in their building on Main Street.

These guys work their tails off to put out their free paper so please take a second and check out their website, download their newspaper and support independent media in your area.

Is the Navy doc the smoking gun for base supporters?

Lets see how the military and BRAC are going to explain this.

Supporters of the Groton sub base have been saying for some time that the military underestimated the cost of closing the sub base and moving it down south and now it seems like they have the documentation to prove their case. The reporters over at The New London Day got their hands on a Navy document which outlines how badly the Pantagon underestimated the cost of moving the sub fleet to . What's disturbing is that the document was written weeks before Connecticut lawmakers met with BRAC in Boston and now the base supporters are furious.


From The New London Day

An internal Navy memorandum obtained by The Day reveals that the Pentagon's plan to move the Naval Submarine School to Kings Bay, Ga., seriously underestimated the costs.

Opponents of the move Wednesday called the memo a “white-hot smoking gun” that will “blow a hole” in the Pentagon's case to close Sub Base New London.

“Clearly the timing and content of this memo is startling,” said U.S. Sen. Christopher J. Dodd, D-Conn. “If this information is indeed deemed to be accurate and true, it would call into question all data used by the Navy to support its BRAC (base realignment and closure) proposals.

“In particular,” Dodd said, “it would blow a hole in the Navy's analysis recommending the transfer of the Submarine School from Sub Base New London to Kings Bay.”

The plan to move the school, part of the larger plan to close the Naval Submarine Base, calls for construction of 70 classrooms. But Capt. Arnold O. Lotring, the director of the Submarine Learning Center, which would oversee the move, said in the memo he needs 100.

The plan also calls for standard construction, but the memo said the classrooms require highly specialized air conditioning, heating, electrical and information technology improvements that will be much more expensive.

The memo said that to operate effectively at Kings Bay, the sub school must have specialized dormitories, including a wing for students who are being disciplined; a larger cafeteria, or galley; and a brig for at least six people. With as many as 2,200 students at peak periods, there are always a few in serious trouble.

[...]

Members of the team fighting to save the Groton base were fuming to learn that the Navy began assessing the cost of the move in June, almost three weeks after the Pentagon proposed the closure — and more than six months after all the data to support the move was supposed to have been certified by auditors.

“This memo is a disturbing revelation of how the Navy has miscalculated the costs of moving the Submarine School, and it seriously undermines their case to close Sub Base New London,” said Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman, D-Conn. “It shows that they neglected to conduct the necessary research and data certification before arriving at their conclusion on the base's fate.

“We will pursue this with the Navy and will provide all information to the BRAC commission for their deliberations. These flaws clearly provide even stronger evidence that Sub Base New London should remain open.”

Base supporters were furious to learn the memo was never released, even though it was written weeks before they traveled to Boston to argue against the Pentagon recommendation in a hearing before the base closure commission.

In addition, U.S. Rep. Rob Simmons, R-2nd District, noted the memo was written two weeks before his visit to Kings Bay in June. When he asked at that time whether the galley, the gymnasium and other facilities would be able to absorb up to 2,200 students at a time, he was assured they would.

That's a matter of great concern to me,” Simmons said. “They must have known about this memo by then. But when all these issues came up, nobody said anything about a memo. How many other important pieces of information are out there that we don't know about?

The military has not only caught lying abou the closure figures, they knowingly withheld evidence that poked holes in their claims.

Someone at the Pentagon has some serious explaining to do.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Please help!

The guys at The Danbury Independent Media Center (IMC) are in dire need for cash right now as they are about to be evicted from their main street office. The IMC publishes the Hat City Free Press which has provided Danbury area with news and information for free for the last four years.

The last thing you need during this election year is to lose your only source of independent, unfiltered media so please help them out and give what you can. Any amount of cash would be greatly appreciated so go to their website and help them out.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Energy bill helps business, hurts states

With the stroke of his pen, President Bush signs an energy bill which creates a headache for the people in Connecticut who oppose the cross-Sound natural gas pipeline and other proposals that are blocked by state courts becuase under the new law, businesses can now skip the state and take their case to the federal courts.

What ever happened to state rights?

From the Connecticut Post

But already stirring controversy in Connecticut is a provision allowing businesses to skip state courts and head directly to federal appeals courts in cases where state officials deny or stall energy projects. That could boost several projects that Connecticut authorities oppose, including Broadwater Energy LLC's proposed floating liquefied natural gas terminal on Long Island Sound, and a cross-Sound natural gas pipeline proposed by Islander East.

Hours after Bush signed the bill, Islander East petitioned the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York to direct the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection to approve the proposed pipeline from Branford to the eastern tip of Long Island.

Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal blasted what he called an "unconscionable energy policy."

"President Bush today has signed a blank check to the energy industry — stripping state authority over the siting of massive projects such as Islander East and Broadwater," Blumenthal said. "The stakes for Connecticut are huge — virtual emasculation of power over energy projects that impact our environment, economy and public health."

Blumenthal vowed to resist efforts to undermine state regulatory authority in federal court. "States still have rights and we will use them to fight this battle with every ounce of our legal energy," he said.

U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-3, criticized Islander East's federal lawsuit.

"The state of Connecticut has a responsibility to determine whether projects such as the Islander East pipeline meet state environmental standards," she said.

[...]

Statistics from the Center for Responsive Politics, a non-partisan research group that tracks the impact of money on politics, shows that during the 2004 election cycle, the oil and gas industries contributed $25.2 million nationwide, most of it to Republican candidates. While spending by the energy industry in 2004 was slightly up over 2002 contributions, it represented a large decline from its 2000 spending, when it raised $34.3 million for the candidates it supported.

Wonder how much money Rob Simmons (your late night "no" vote after youknew the Republicans had enough votes to pass the bill didn't fool me), Chris Shays and Nancy Johnson raked in by big oil.

Immigration Control president shows her true colors

I posted this entry on my other political site HATCITY blog (Danbury CT politics) but I feel that it's so important that I had to post it here also.

I'm in the process of doing an in-depth feature on the Connecticut Citizens for Immigration Control (CTCIC) but this letter to the editor from Danbury Chapter CTCIC President Elise Marciano proves my point about this hate group so well (and don't get confused, this IS a hate group) that I had to share it with everyone.

From today's Danbury News-Times.

I was very pleased to read the comments of the Rev. Laura Westby (letter, July 31).

I was not aware that the First Amendment relegated free speech only to ministers or left-leaning people who want to suppress the voices of taxpayers and voters. Now we know what DACORIM stands for.

You have to love how Marciano links Rev. Westby (minister for the First Congregation Church in Danbury), Danbury for Coalition Area the Rights of Immigrants (DACORIM), liberals, progressives, and anyone who doesn't believe in her lies with supression of speech (such a typical right-winged tactic).

So now all of the sudden Rev. Westby wants to supress the lies that members of the CTCIC say writing in their letters. Well, the editorial board of the News-Times has the final say in what gets published and they should be more responsible in what gets in the paper becasue a good portions of letters from the CTCIC (including this one from their president) are full of lies and half truths and only inflames public opinion against immigrants in the area.
The divisiveness she refers to was created by illegal aliens and immigrants who harbor, employ and encourage their people to come and break our laws on a daily basis.
Read what she says carefully, she said "illegal aliens and immigrants" which means ILLEGAL and LEGAL immigrants. The CTCIC has never made a distinction between illegal alien and illegal immigrant so don't let the terminolgy. Can Marciano, or anyone from your wackpack, give us a list of local laws that are being broken by immigrants (it's funny how the Danbury police department couldn't provide us with anything so how did you get your imformation)?

Don't let these jerks fool you, these people don't like ANY immigrants although they try to say they have no problem with legal immigrants in public. Her next paragraph provides more evidence to my point.

Apparently, the First Congregational Church encourages people to break America's laws in the name of mercy. Where will it end? Doesn't she care that Danbury citizens are being disturbed by volleyball games that are run as a business, selling food and liquor illegally and parking cars all over the streets?

I didn't know that all people who played volleyball were illegal immigrants. I didn't know that ALL volleybal games were selling food, alcohol and caused a traffic problem. Again, where did she or the CTCIC get their evidence to back up their claims?
I guess her "mercy" is not for Americans. We Americans are offended by these people.
Again Marciano never makes the seperation between illegal and legal immigrants because she and the CTCIC hates dislikes all immigrants becasue they don't share their "Danburian" values. They'll never come out in public and say this but we know of plenty of people who have attended these meetings and what they say in private is completely different from what they say in public.
The "complex problems" she refers to have a simple solution - close our borders. This problem is not solved with mercy.

We have always given refuge to political refugees. All the 15-20 million illegal aliens are not fleeing their country for this reason. They are here to make money, get on our welfare programs (called "anchor babies") and receive "free" medical care for the diseases they come with.

They get all this "free" medical and living welfare courtesy of the American taxpayer.

Again, I don't want to sound like a broken record but where is the evidence to back up your claims? If you're illegal, how can you receive welfare (you would think you'd need a social security number)? Do you think someone who is here illegally would risk being deported by trying to get federal assistance?

How does Marcianoor the CTCIC know that illegal immigrants bring diseases from their native country? Can the CTCIC name some diseases that are native to Central America that is suddenly popping up in Danbury or anywhere in Connecticut?

Where is the evidence to back up their claims? If this was a court case, the CTCIC claims would be considered hearsay at best. There is no evidence because these people dont care about the truth, just their cause which is to run all immigrants off of Main Street and out of Danbury in general.
I suggest the Rev. Laura Westby take her ministry to Cuba or China or even North Korea where she will get her wish to publish articles only for the "common good," and where citizens are not encouraged to defend themselves from lawbreakers and divisiveness is not allowed.

Will she and DACORIM and the ACLU defend the taxpayers who say "I'm not paying my taxes anymore." I am the proud president of the Greater Danbury Chapter of Connecticut Citizens for Immigration Control.
Ah, you just couldn't finish your rant without throwing a spitball at the ACLU. Priceless. If this crazy letter came from the president of this organization, you can imagine what the average member is like.

If you ever get a chance, I encourage you go to the Condordia Club in Danbury and sit in on one of these meetings and you'll see that the group are nothing more than a bunch of white "born and raised" people who are simply pissed off that their precious city is going through a radical change. They complain constantly about the changes on Main Street (before the creation of the Danbury Fair Mall, Main Street was the busiest part of the city where everyone shopped). They don't like the fact that the city they grew up in has changed to a multicultural magnet and they want to have their racist voce heard and the best way to do that is to latch onto the illegal immigration situation.

A majority of the people in Danbury don't support these jerks and are embarrassed to have them in the city. If any political candidate links themself up with this group, they can kiss their political career goodbye (even Mayor Boughton has the sense not to get linked with these jerks).

We'll post more on these a-holes in future posts.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Newton shows that political corruption is still alive and well

If there is anything good you can take from State Senator Ernest Newton's political scandal, it's that his case has put political corruption in Connecticut back on the front burner.

A year after the end of the Rowland era, people thought that corruption in Connecticut polics were a thing of the past but the Newton case reminds us that political corruption is still very much alive and well.

The Connecticut Post writes an excellent article on the Newton screwup and explains that the state has a long way to go when it comes to removing political crooks from office.
The FBI agent listening to the conversation must have been shaking his head. It was June 17, 2004. Already, the dark clouds of corruption were stationed over the state's Capitol, where then-Gov. John G. Rowland's impeachment hearings were taking place. In just four days he would resign in the midst of a federal probe that would later send him to prison.

That came just about a year after a federal judge sent former Bridgeport Mayor Joseph P. Ganim to prison for nine years on 16 federal corruption charges involving taking kickbacks and bribes.

Between those two cases, U.S. Attorney Kevin J. O'Connor and Michael Wolf, head of the FBI in Connecticut, repeatedly announced that public corruption was high on their hit list — particularly in Bridgeport.

Yet on June 17, 2004, the FBI agent listened as Warren Godbolt, executive director of Progressive Training Associates in Bridgeport, telephoned a member of the General Assembly. The agent heard Godbolt describe to the state legislator how and when he would pay the $5,000 bribe for pushing through a $100,000 state grant.

"It's amazing, isn't it?" John Orman, a professor of politics at Fairfield University, said of the timeline. "After Rowland stepped down it was touted as the beginning of a new era in our state political system. I guess a strong enough message hasn't been sent that you shouldn't have to pay to play."

While Assistant U.S. Attorney James J. Finnerty has not yet identified the General Assembly member, everything the prosecutor said during Godbolt's guilty plea to bribery and conspiracy charges last week points to state Sen. Ernest E. Newton II, D-Bridgeport, as the person on the other end of the telephone line.

"I don't know why some people aren't getting the message," U.S. Attorney Kevin J. O'Connor said, following Godbolt's guilty plea. "Obviously our work is not done." "It's Bridgeport," said H. James Pickerstein, who as the chief assistant U.S. attorney led an investigation into the late Mayor John C. Mandanici Jr.'s administration in the 1980s. "I think its part of the culture there."


I wouldn't say corruption is just a Bridgeport problem but a stgate wide disease which needs to be eliminated and every person running for political office should be asked how they would tackle this problem.

CPTV interviews for sale to the biggest donor

It's a sad day when a sponsor can pay off public television to do a story on your corporation. The lines of jouranlistic ethics is breached when this happens and not only should the viewer be VERY skeptical of what they are seeing, but demand that this type of pratice stop immediately.

Although it's clearly unethical, the top brass at CPTV are pressing on reporters to interview organizations that donate to the network. The Hartford Courant exposed the web of corporate influence at the network highlighting the hardball tactics of Jerry Franklin, the president and CEO of Connecticut Public Broadcasting Inc.

If corparations can pay to get their people quoted on the air, should we assume that large political organizations can pay off CPTV and get the same treatment?
Mead and the lead producer, Mary Ollie Newman, started work on the first show, on heart disease, by finding a woman being treated at Hartford Hospital for heart problems. They shot interviews in January with Dr. Paul Thompson and Dr. William Bowden, the director of cardiology at Hartford.
And then the trouble began.

Soon afterward, the producers got a call from Jay Whitsett, vice president of programming for CPTV. Whitsett told them that Jerry Franklin, the president and CEO of Connecticut Public Broadcasting Inc., was demanding that the producers shoot interviews with doctors from St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center instead.

St. Francis was a key financial sponsor of the women's health series.

"Jerry just called and read me the riot act. He told me jobs are at stake here [meaning me]," Whitsett wrote in a Jan. 13 e-mail to the producers. "All [I] can say is that Jerry wants ST Francis people in show #1 and I will be hung out to dry if it doesn't happen. I'm sorry for this but I'm getting hammered."

Facing a situation that they felt was forcing them to breach a basic rule of journalism ethics - that content decisions are kept inviolate from the desires of advertisers or sponsors - Newman and Mead quit the project in January. In March, former Fox 61 reporter Carolee Salerno also withdrew for similar reasons.

"To just point-blank say, `You're supposed to interview our doctors ...' There certainly may be a doctor at Hartford Hospital or some physician at Yale who's better qualified, so how can they dictate that?" said Newman, who won two Emmy awards during 25 years of work as a television producer and reporter. "That's our business, to find out the best and try to do the best story."

The demand by top management that journalists subjugate journalistic decisions to the financial needs of a sponsor was not isolated to the women's health series, current and former producers at CPTV said. They said it was just one example of a pattern in which the CPTV chief has ceded editorial control to sponsors, potentially undermining the credibility of the station's programming with viewers.

"I think these guys are for sale," said one angry CPTV producer, who asked for anonymity, saying he was afraid of retribution from Franklin. "It's a slippery slope. They haven't gotten to the point of where they are saying, `Tell us what you want and we'll do it,' but they are headed that way."

[...]

In particular, critics said, Franklin has forced out executives whom he views as potential rivals or threats. One chief financial officer who questioned what appeared to be personal expenses Franklin charged to CPBI several years ago found himself out of work shortly afterward.

Bob Douglas, who covered Connecticut politics and legislature as a reporter for CPTV in the 1980s and 1990s, said Franklin is "kind of a mean-spirited guy."

Even then, "there was a sense that Jerry took care of Jerry first, and then dealt with the institution," said Douglas, who left public broadcasting a decade ago. "In my days there, if there was an election for CEO, Jerry would have been impeached."
We should expect better from public television and Franklin should never be allowed to get away with this.