U.S. forces had one of their costliest days in Iraq on Saturday when 21 troops were killed, including 13 in a helicopter and five in a clash in a Shi'ite holy city the U.S. military said was triggered by militiamen.
The battle at a government building in Kerbala was the bloodiest for U.S. troops in the Shi'ite south in two years and occurred as President George W. Bush presses leaders of the Shi'ite majority to crack down on militias from their community.
Hours after reporting three deaths in separate incidents and the loss of all 13 passengers and crew aboard a Blackhawk transport helicopter, the U.S. military said five soldiers were killed and three wounded in the Kerbala clash.
It was the deadliest day for U.S. forces since Bush announced 10 days ago he was sending about 20,000 troops to Iraq to try to prevent sectarian civil war between Shi'ites and the once- dominant Sunni Arab minority. His plans have run into resistance from opposition Democrats who now control Congress.
Who? You! And as many freedom loving friends as you can bring!
What? The Free Kenny Legal Defense Fund Bash, featuring beer, wine, hors d'oerves, music and free speech.
Where? La Paloma Sabanera, 405 Capitol Ave., Hartford (which is the same place where the Blog Wars screening will take place on this Wednesday)
Why? Because lawyering up to defend free speech isn't cheap.
When? Friday, Jan. 19 from 6 to 9 p.m.
How much? $25 suggested donation, or whatever you can give will help defray Ken Krayeske's legal expenses, which arise from his arrest and detainment after photographing Gov. M. Jodi Rell's inaugural parade Jan. 3. If you can't attend, but still want to support the battle to protect civil liberties, click here for info on how to send a check.
For more information, email Steve Colangelo at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him at 860-508-4740. No RSVP needed.
Hours before the controversial arrest of political blogger Kenneth Krayeske at Gov. M. Jodi Rell's Jan. 3 inaugural parade, state police distributed copies of a full-color, two-page document describing Krayeske as an activist who had invited people to join him in a protest outside Rell's inaugural ball that night.
The document, containing color prints of Krayeske's current and past driver's license photos, made it seem as if "Ken Krayeske was public enemy No. 1," said Rep. Michael P. Lawlor, a state legislative leader whose committee now plans to investigate.
The security flier, Lawlor said, apparently led to an "overreaction" by Hartford police, who received the document at a pre-parade security briefing for police. Recognizing Krayeske from the photos, a Hartford officer arrested him at 1:20 p.m. as he photographed Rell along the parade route, said Lawlor, who was shown the flier by a police official. Both the state and Hartford police have refused requests by The Courant to see the two-page Krayeske profile and other documents concerning individuals identified as potential threats.
Police defend their procedures as reasonable to protect a chief executive from public threats. But civil liberties advocates, locally and nationally, agree with Lawlor that it was "inexcusable" to arrest Krayeske and hold him on $75,000 bail for more than 12 hours on charges of breach of peace and interfering with police.
Krayeske, a 34-year-old law student who runs a commentary website, The40yearplan.com, was finally released early Jan. 4 on a promise to appear in court Jan. 30. His lawyer has suggested that authorities kept him on ice until it was too late to get to Rell's inaugural ball.
Outrageous is the only word that comes to my mind.
The Governor and the goon squad that call themselves "the police" have a great deal of explaining to do.
Ken Krayeske is a well-known member of the journalistic/blogging community. He posed absolutely NO THREAT to the governor whatsoever and to holf the guy on 75,000 bond THEN release him on only a promise to appear in court AFTER the governor's ball was over reeks of foul play.
Just thinking about this case get me upset beause if it can happen to Ken, it can happen to ANY blogger including yours truly.
George Orwell was only off by 23 years.
For those who need to be brought up to speed in this extraordinary case, here's State Rep Mike Lawlor's press conference on the matter.
Republicans in the state Senate have a solution to the perennial legislative question of how to decrease the burden of the municipal property tax: Let municipalities scrap it altogether.
The proposal, announced Wednesday by Sen. David Cappiello of Danbury, the highest-ranking Republican on the Appropriations Committee, would allow cities and towns to implement new local taxes of their own design - on income, product sales, hotel rentals or other sources - in exchange for repealing their local property taxes.
You read this right folks. The Republicans are offering towns and cities to create new tax laws to collect revenue in exchange for scraping property taxes altogether. Well, maybe if you're a senator from an area like Danbury, you can try to peddle something like this due to the amount of commercial development in the area BUT if your from a small town and you lose the revenue from property taxes, you're basically screwed.
Cappiello knows this so what's the deal?
It's a provocative notion, Cappiello conceded in a telephone interview Wednesday from his office at the Capitol, one intended to stimulate debate on the state's tax system, if not necessarily to become law in the form he and his fellow Senate Republicans propose.
"It's a relatively simple concept, but I want to emphasize that it's really a concept," Cappiello said.
Even Stevie Wonder can see that this is JUST A CONCEPT and far from something to even be taken seriously simply because of the HUGE amount of problems axing the property tax would cause on smaller towns.
Again, Cappiello admits the obvious...
Danbury would likely consider such a move, Cappiello said, due to its substantial retail base and a surfeit of hotels — the better to generate municipal revenue with a local sales tax or levy on hotel fees.
But he conceded that other municipalities, those for whom taxing residents' income or spending would be distasteful or potentially harmful, would likely pass on the idea.
Word of the proposal, which has yet to be raised in the legislature's Planning and Development Committee, was greeted with guarded skepticism in the city government of New London, which has struggled for years with a limited amount of taxable property with which to fund its basic services.
Declining to comment in the abstract on a proposal he hadn't seen, City Manager Martin Berliner nonetheless said he believed allowing individual jurisdictions to write their own tax laws could lead to unintended consequences and a "mish-mash" of confusing or contradictory tax law.
Just what people need...more confusing tax laws. I thought Republicans wanted to get rid of taxes, not create new taxes.
Fox 61 did a great report last night detailed the various problems with the proposal Cappiello's offered yesterday.
Look, you just can't get rid of property taxes...period. Offering stuff like getting rid of the property tax might sound great but ultimately is totally unrealistic because of the enormous problems it would create for small towns and cities that rely on the revenue.
Think about it.
If a Republican mayor like Boughton sounded alarm bells over a Republican governor's proposal to eliminate the car tax, imagine the outcry if property taxes were wiped out.
You do the math.
Since cities and towns reply so much on property taxes to survive, at the very least, if you're someone who has a "plan," goes through the trouble to call a presser, look straight into the camera, and give the public your "plan" to wipe away something as critical as property taxes, you better have a serious plan make up for the loss in revenue, which is clearly non-existent in Cappiello's proposal.
"I think anything we can do to provide more flexibility to cities and towns would definitely be welcomed. This is a serious proposal and it warrants serious consideration," Boughton said.
Hmm...now lets go back in time and take a look at just a few of the problems Mayor Boughton and Newtown's Herb Rosenthal had with Governor Rell's proposal to scrap the car tax.
Now remember, these are just a few problems presented by the elimination of the car tax.
Property tax relief is critical, and Governor Rell deserves praise for putting it at the top of this year's legislative agenda.
In making her groundbreaking proposal to eliminate the car tax, the governor has gone where others have feared to tread.
The problem of Connecticut's motor vehicle property tax has long been a vexing one for both state and municipal officials. But the governor's proposal as drafted needs a major tuneup in order to ensure that it provides the intended relief to property taxpayers and does not undermine local government finances in the short term and long term.
And while the governor's proposal did not make it out of the General Assembly's Finance Committee, it is expected to resurface during upcoming state budget negotiations.
As the 2003 Blue Ribbon Commission on Property Tax Burdens and Smart Growth Incentives said: "... this particular property tax is viewed as especially unfair because residents in different communities pay vastly different taxes on the same property. This system encourages some Connecticut residents to register motor vehicles in other lower-tax municipalities or even out-of-state, causing significant local revenue losses and administrative difficulties."
The governor's proposal would eliminate, as of July 1, property taxes on most passenger cars and motorcycles; create a new $500 million "grant" called the Casino Assistance Revenue Grant (CAR), which is intended to reimburse each town for the municipal revenue lost as a result of the elimination of the car tax; and eliminate the $400 property tax credit on the state personal income tax to help pay for the elimination of the car tax.
According to the governor, the program would pay each municipality a grant equal to or greater than the amount it would lose in revenue in fiscal year 2006-07.
This is because, the governor says, towns and cities would be reimbursed for 100 percent of the property tax owed on all eligible vehicles, even if a municipality's tax collection rate is less than 100 percent.
But there are major problems with the governor's proposal as embodied in Senate Bill 50. These problems need to be corrected if the governor's proposal is to fulfill its promise to property taxpayers and their hometowns.
The bill should be changed so that the proposed payment schedule for municipal reimbursements avoids negative cash-flow impacts on towns and cities.
The proposal raises concerns among local officials that future reimbursements would disappear.
The state's track record on this front is dismal. There are numerous examples of things being taken off the property tax rolls, only to have promised state reimbursements shrink or disappear completely.
The proposal eliminates the property tax credit on the state personal income tax, thereby negating existing relief to residential property taxpayers. This would not be a proper tradeoff. One form of tax relief should not be sacrificed for another.
The governor's proposal should be changed so that the property tax credit on the state personal income tax is retained and increased to at least $400, as existing statute provides.
If these concerns are addressed in a modified car-tax proposal, then this initiative will be truly revenue neutral to towns and cities and will provide the promised property tax relief.
The irony is that unless municipal aid is significantly increased, as called for by the General Assembly's Appropriations and Finance committees, and the car tax proposal is significantly modified, the result will be statewide property tax hikes and local service cutbacks.
The governor's proposal to eliminate the car tax needs a major tuneup - before it moves down the legislative highway.
Now, if the mayor had so many concerns with Governor Rell's elimination of the car tax (and rightfully so), imagine the amount of problems there would be if the property tax was axed (which he didn't mention when interviewed by the News-Times).
The problem with these types of pie-in-the-sky ideas is simple. If your going to offer a radical proposal, at least have confidence in what your offering to the public or people will be left with the impression that you're just grandstanding for the media.
The 2003 Blue Ribbon Commission Report on Tax Reform concluded, "One of the methods to reduce over reliance on the property tax is to enable municipalities to generate revenue from other means."
But it felt the best way to get there was through regional cooperatives. The report concluded, "The commission believes that local-option taxes on a municipality-by-municipality basis in a small state like Connecticut are generally counterproductive--they tend to foster tax competition between communities and make high-tax towns that opt for additional taxes less competitive."
Heidi Green, president of 1,000 Friends of Connecticut, a group that advocates for smart growth said she applauds the Republicans for starting the conversation, but worries about the land use issues it may create. She said towns that rely on a local income tax may want to attract higher income people by building big houses and towns that rely on the sales tax will try to entice lots of retail business.
This is just a tip of the iceberg when it comes to something as radical as what Cappiello is proposing. Politicians are always offering proposals which ultimately get killed (e.g. Rell's car tax). It's one thing to offer something...it's another thing to offer something that is somewhat realistic.
The newest member of the ConnecticutBLOG team received her first series of shots today and she didn't like it one bit. Postings will be rather light today as the little girl is a little sore from all the needles.
And in Biden world, Marion Steinfels, ex-comm. dir for Joe Lieberman's Senate race and a former aide to Tom Vilsack, will handle press duties for Biden's expected presidential bid.
Oh man, Biden can kiss his presidential bid goodbye. Maybe he didn't know that Steinfels has a habit of not being straight with the press. In fact Marion lied her ass off throughtout the ENTIRE primary all the blogs which covered Lieberman's laughable primary campaign took great pleasure each time she open her mouth.
As many of you know, over the last few months I have been thinking hard about my plans for 2008. Running for the presidency is a profound decision - a decision no one should make on the basis of media hype or personal ambition alone - and so before I committed myself and my family to this race, I wanted to be sure that this was right for us and, more importantly, right for the country.
I certainly didn't expect to find myself in this position a year ago. But as I've spoken to many of you in my travels across the states these past months; as I've read your emails and read your letters; I've been struck by how hungry we all are for a different kind of politics.
So I've spent some time thinking about how I could best advance the cause of change and progress that we so desperately need.
The decisions that have been made in Washington these past six years, and the problems that have been ignored, have put our country in a precarious place. Our economy is changing rapidly, and that means profound changes for working people. Many of you have shared with me your stories about skyrocketing health care bills, the pensions you've lost and your struggles to pay for college for your kids. Our continued dependence on oil has put our security and our very planet at risk. And we're still mired in a tragic and costly war that should have never been waged.
But challenging as they are, it's not the magnitude of our problems that concerns me the most. It's the smallness of our politics. America's faced big problems before. But today, our leaders in Washington seem incapable of working together in a practical, common sense way. Politics has become so bitter and partisan, so gummed up by money and influence, that we can't tackle the big problems that demand solutions.
And that's what we have to change first.
We have to change our politics, and come together around our common interests and concerns as Americans.
This won't happen by itself. A change in our politics can only come from you; from people across our country who believe there's a better way and are willing to work for it.
Years ago, as a community organizer in Chicago, I learned that meaningful change always begins at the grassroots, and that engaged citizens working together can accomplish extraordinary things.
So even in the midst of the enormous challenges we face today, I have great faith and hope about the future - because I believe in you.
And that's why I wanted to tell you first that I'll be filing papers today to create a presidential exploratory committee. For the next several weeks, I am going to talk with people from around the country, listening and learning more about the challenges we face as a nation, the opportunities that lie before us, and the role that a presidential campaign might play in bringing our country together. And on February 10th, at the end of these decisions and in my home state of Illinois, I'll share my plans with my friends, neighbors and fellow Americans.
In the meantime, I want to thank all of you for your time, your suggestions, your encouragement and your prayers. And I look forward to continuing our conversation in the weeks and months to come.
Seems like Chuck Hagel's bitchslapping of Joe Lieberman on Meet the Press generated a lot of interest. With over 35,000 views in 48 hours, it seems like Lieberman struck a nerve with many who are upset with his delusional support of this President's Iraq policy (complete with the usual GOP talking points).
It's obvious that we're at a tipping point in this country over this god-awful war. No longer is this a Democrat versus Republican thing...it's a majority of the public from different political, religious, and social backgrounds standing together and screaming in unicon:
"ENOUGH IS ENOUGH! NO TO THE ESCALATION! BRING AN END TO THE WAR!"
I'm embarrassed to have a senator from my home state who outright refuses to listen to the voices of the people he is suppose to represent. His views on THE ISSUE OF OUR LIFETIME will scar his career for life...and he has no one to blame but himself.
Senator Hagel's breakdown of Holy Joe was so good, it's worth watching again.
The response to this clip is so over-the-top, that I wanted to share with you some video responses I've received from around the country.
I'll update this post as more video responses come in...
Keith Olbermann analyzes the latest neo-con antics of Holy Joe Lieberman on Countdown Friday night. He and Arianna Huffington tried to make sense of our junior senator...I could have told them to not waste their time.
Take a look and see why Olbermann's show is the best on cable.
#40 - Most Viewed (Today) #2 - Most Viewed (Today) - Directors #79 - Most Viewed (This Week) - Directors
This was based on a videoclip of Holy Joe Lieberman yesterday that's spreading across the blogs nationally right now. I'll honor list on my Youtube page will change throughout the day since the clip was posted almost 24 hours ago.
Wow, this is huge seeing that there is tens of thousands of video directors who use YouTube (I'm number two in the country? That's crazy!)
A great deal of work goes behind providing readers with video presentations so it's great whenever there is a big response and feedback to videoclip I post online.
Thanks to everyone who read ConnecticutBLOG as well as HatCityBLOG for this amazing honor. In the future, I hope to bring more of my clips to a wider audience as I'll expand the use of my posts, photographs and personal videos to a larger audinece at America Online.
Chuck Hagel bitchslaps Lieberman over scare comments
Finally someone calls out George Bush's favorite Democrat senator on his nonsense.
I almost threw a brick into my television this morning listening to the junior seantor as he puckered his lips and make Presidefnt Bush proud.
Good ol' Holy Joe went back to the "Dick Cheney well of scare tactics" by ONCE AGAIN linking 9/11 and Iraq (who's STILL buying that line), criticizing anyone who disagrees with the President (which would be a majority of the public), and claiming the other Iraq proposals "retreat" and "defeat" (a.k.a. cut and run).
Ironically, it took a Republican to do something that the Democrats should've done a long time ago...put the former DINOboy in his place.
The events surrounding the arrest of freelance journalist and Green Party candidate Cliff Throrton's former campaign manager Ken Krayeske at Governor Rell's inaugural parade is still generating interest (as well as concern) on the blogs as well as in the mainstream media.
I caught up with Krayeske in Hartford yesterday and hopefully, I'll be able to have an interview with Krayeske's attorney Norm Pattis very soon. In the meantine, on Fox 61, Beyond the Headlines, State Rep. Mike Lawlor, Attorney Pattis and AP "reporter" Sue Haigh had a roundtable discussion on the matter.
"License and registration, please?" The officer stands beside your car. Behind you, his cruiser lights are flashing. Other motorists slow down to gawk. Your heart pounds.
"What have I done?" you ask. The officer explains that you ran a stop sign several blocks back. You never saw the sign, but no matter. It will be a small fine and off you will go. Everyone makes simple mistakes from time to time.
The officer takes your license and registration to his car. He enters your name into a database linked to his car by computer. A message flashes across his screen:
WARNING - APPROACH WITH CAUTION
THIS INDIVIDUAL IS ASSOCIATED WITH TERRORISM ...
USE CAUTION AND IMMEDIATELY CONTACT THE TERRORIST SCREENING CENTER AT (866) 872-9001 FOR ADDITIONAL DIRECTION.
Your plans for the evening have changed. You are now on a federal radar, listed and tagged as a potential threat. Your name is part of the FBI's Violent Gang and Terrorist Organization File (VGTOF). Will you go home, or to a jail cell?
How did your name get on the list? You don't know. You may never know. Perhaps you were seen at an antiwar rally. Or perhaps you contributed money to a candidate or cause that some anonymous soul views as suspect. Like it or not, however, every law enforcement officer in the country now need only log onto his computer to learn that you are a suspect.
We saw how innocent acts become crimes at the inaugural parade for Gov. M. Jodi Rell this month. Ken Krayeske, a free-lance journalist, law student and former campaign director for Green Party gubernatorial candidate Cliff Thornton, was arrested there and charged with breach of peace and interfering with a police officer. Why? He was taking pictures of the parade.
Of course, that is no crime. But before the parade began, Hartford police officers were told by the Connecticut Intelligence Center and the Connecticut State Police Central Intelligence Unit that a number of political activists posed a threat to the governor.
These intelligence groups are part of the new state-federal security network that is sharing information about all manner of things that can go bump in the night. The state police had photographs of the activists listed as threats. Krayeske's picture was among them.
Ken Krayeske was not arrested for taking pictures. He was arrested because he was on a list of potential threats. His innocent conduct took on a sinister cast when viewed through the secret lens of suspicion.
The state police deny maintaining any such lists. I suspect the denials are a mere linguistic trick. The state may not maintain a list. The lists of who is naughty and who is nice are most likely in federal hands. State lawmakers can hold all the hearings they want in Hartford to find out about these lists and they will learn almost nothing. State law enforcement officials are merely participating in federally managed and funded programs designed, we are told, to protect the security of this, our blessed homeland.
These lists are dangerous and easily misused. Was Ken Krayeske arrested because he had threatened to attend the gubernatorial ball and protest? Or because he once questioned why Gov. Rell refused to demand that gubernatorial debates be open to all candidates?
I did not pledge allegiance to a national-security state. We proclaim in the federal Constitution's preamble that "we the people" created government for limited ends, to assure our life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
"Live free or die," read license plates in New Hampshire. These are words to live by. When did we yield the freedom to be let alone to bureaucrats who decide without meaningful review who is and is not a threat? More important, who regulates the men and women sitting up nights deciding who among us to include on lists that can transform innocent conduct into crimes?