Saturday, November 25, 2006

Connecticut's GOP; Hypocrisy in a One-Party State

News reports from the Connecticut political scene this past week were full of denunciations from Republican party leaders toward a Republican member of the state House of Representatives who switched parties two weeks after winning reelection.

The newly converted Democrat, Rep. Diana Urban of North Stonington, represents the district that previously was represented by former Republican US Congressman Rob Simmons when he was a state representative. Simmons lost his Congressional seat in the recent election by such a narrow margin that party chicanery has to be considered as much a culprit as the efforts by his Democratic opponent.

Urban's switch widened the state House Democrats' lead over Republicans to 107-44, which when combined with the state Senate Dems also exceeding the two-thirds margin needed to override vetoes from the Governor's office, relegates Gov. Jodi Rell to figurehead status, while ensuring that anything the Dems want, they get.

What was especially stunning, and outright hypocritical of the GOP leadership, was the argument that Urban accepted campaign money from the Republican party, but knew all along that she was going to switch. That her decision to switch was made long before the election may or may not have been the case. News reports focused on her close friendships with leading Democrats and voting patterns that were closer to the Dems' than her own party.

But the key factor is the money issue. All across Connecticut, throughout the campaign, viable candidates for the state House and Senate were pleading for financial help from party central in Hartford. But the reaction from party leaders ranged from ignoring the candidates, to cold shoulders, to in the case of the 19th Senate District, outright sabotage.

Pleas for financial help were rebuffed, with the explanation that there simply were no funds available. Yet the party found money to help Urban, who was considered a shoo-in.



How do you, as a party leader, justify leaving viable candidates withering on the vine with no means to distribute their message and positions, while simultaneously giving precious funding to a questionable candidate who has no opposition?

The answer may well be as simple as it appears - that the GOP leadership in Hartford is so out of touch with the electorate and reality that they think we all are too stupid to see what they are up to. Apparently, outside the grounds of the Capitol we aren't smart enough to see that only certain candidates get help, and if someone who doesn't fit their secret criteria comes along with a campaign plan that just might upset their apple cart, the party insiders go out of their way to ensure that the upstarts don't get elected.

Party wise guys make the claim that they are experts at predicting the outcome of state elections. I don't believe they make accurate predictions. I believe they work behind the scenes to make sure their little piece of turf stays intact no matter who is in power.

This is a self-fulfilling prophecy, not a prediction.

There also is the possibility that the party has been infiltrated over the last decade or so by RINOs (Republicans In Name Only) or for that matter, Democratic insurgents, who have succeeded in usurping real Republicans and are deliberately destroying the party from within.

I use the decade time measurement because until the mid-1990s the GOP had a majority in Hartford, and even when the Dems had good years the Republicans were still in the game, which has not been the case since before the turn of the century.

We also may consider that the system is so corrupt that Democrats and Republicans have been cooperating to maintain the status quo, meaning that some players will always get elected, while outsiders will either get no help or will be sabotaged.

If you think this scenario is too far fetched, consider that nearly a year ago the Connecticut Law Journal reported that Rell was raking in huge donations from liberal Democrats in the monied western section of the state. This as she eschewed donations from PACs and lobbyists, and called on other Republican candidates to do the same.

The Connecticut media ignored the revelation about Rell's new-found friends, and focused instead on what appeared to be a major gaff from Rell's chief of staff who distributed invitations to a Rell fund-raiser to her department heads on state time in state offices.

Rell gave back the $50,000 or so that she received from that event, but at the same time was more than making up for it at other, more private events that received scant media attention. How can you take money from your opponent's party to ensure your election, and at the same time bad-mouth someone else who did essentially the same thing by a different route?

Although the Democrats' campaign for governor was spirited at times, Rell was always at least twenty-five percentage points ahead of her challenger, New Haven mayor John DeStefano, whose sphere of influence didn't extend past the boundaries of Yale University, and was never able to overcome the name recognition issue.

Nonetheless, even candidates on Rell's underticket were complaining that they were ignored during the campaign, and not one of them was elected.

But Rell was, even though she will have no real job for the next two years at least, other than to cut ribbons and attend groundbreakings. Maybe she can watch videos of Queen Elizabeth waving at crowds from inside her royal carriage. Then at least she'll have the benign monarchy thing down.

All in all, the positions taken by the GOP leadership in the past week add up to hypocrisy. The GOP has been slipping in party enrollment for years, but the Dems aren't the majority player. Independents own that status, meaning most voters aren't enamored with the Dems' penchant for taxing everything and unchecked bureaucracies, they just don't trust the GOP to represent them anymore.

So the posturing for the media can run its course, but nothing is really going to change. And out where true Republicans live, the party faithful who at their core believe in limited government and taxation only to the level necessary to maintain limited government, have to be wondering at what point do they stop working inside the system and start planning on revolution?
Thursday, November 23, 2006

Thanksgiving Wishes For All Who Serve and Served; WWII; Korea; Vietnam; Beirut; Kuwait; Somalia; Afghanistan; Iraq; on land, sea and air.

Please take a moment to join with me and say a special thanks to all who serve and all who have served, to keep our world free.

Today, many who deserve our thanks the most will be the least likely to have the time or opportunity to celebrate this ever so special and ever so American holiday.

For them, for all who guard our freedoms, in every clime and place, my heartfelt thanks, and prayers for your safe return to your homes and families.

Semper Fidelis
Ron Winter
Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Remembering Quang Tri, Vietnam, and Fallen Marines on Thanksgiving

This originally was written for my agent Andy Zack's blog on Thanksgiving Day 2005. It is updated for today in this column. The message is still relevant. It has been 38 years, but the memory is as fresh as if it was yesterday.

Although I frequently lecture and write about the Vietnam War, and my book Masters of the Art is based on my service there, I don't have a repository of dates locked in my mind that steadily surfaces like a mental file folder reminding me of long ago battles and death.

But on Thanksgiving Day every year I make it a point to stop for a moment and remember one day, and one comrade. On that special day in 1968 I volunteered to fly gunner as helicopters from my squadron, HMM-161, delivered hot turkey dinners to our Marine infantry in outposts and firebases all over northern I Corps.

There was little action to speak of that day, and I was not involved in any firefights, so no flights were classified as combat missions. Just a long, long day delivering canisters of turkey, potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce and even cases of beer, to give the grunts a brief respite from the war.

I held no animosity about spending my entire day in a series of flights under leaden monsoon season skies. I knew what the grunts faced every day of that war and anything we could do to give them even the slightest break was fine by me.

After a day of seeing and smelling all that food, I was truly ready for a meal of my own by the time we returned to the air strip at Quang Tri. But a Thanksgiving dinner was not to be, at least not one prepared in a mess hall.

There had been a dinner. But it was consumed in its entirety by the troops who stayed back on the base that day. Little more than crumbs were left for those who had been flying. I returned to my hooch totally dejected, ready to curse out any and all who crossed my path and not at all looking forward to a meal of C-rations.

Enter a new guy, Billy Bazemore, only recently arrived from the states, who like me was a helicopter electrician, and like me volunteered to fly gunner. New guys had little to no status in Vietnam, and usually deferred to the veterans on virtually all matters. But seeing the look on my face prompted Billy to question its origin, and then to offer a solution.

Reaching triumphantly under his cot, Billy dragged out a box that had arrived in the mail from home, containing a canned turkey, potatoes, carrots, stuffing, and cranberry sauce. To add to my amazement, I also had received a package, bearing a Sara Lee chocolate cake that had survived the voyage from The World intact.

Billy could have kept his stash secret. He could have squirreled it away and hoarded it for himself. But he was a Marine and believed in the Marine code of sharing the contents of food packages from home. We spread the food out on boxes and proceeded to divvy it up among several other crewmen who also had returned to Quang Tri to discover there would be no dinner for them that day.

In short order, the dismal grayness of a monsoon day was forgotten, and probably for the first time in my life I completely understood the meaning of Thanksgiving.

Billy Bazemore's life ended a few short months later, in a vicious firefight with the North Vietnamese. I know the exact date, but I would rather celebrate his life than his death.

So this Thanksgiving, as our troops are once again fighting what has become yet another 'unpopular' war, I will remember where they are and what they are enduring for those of us back home who will be warm, and secure and well fed because of their sacrifices.

I'll offer a toast to my fellow Americans and all other freedom-loving troops who are fighting the terrorists in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere. Because I know that out there somewhere, it is very likely that two Marines will straggle back to their base from a long day that held only harshness and death, only to find that there will be no traditional meal waiting for them.

But they will pull together, as we did 38 years ago, and will find a way to salvage their day. And a bond of brotherhood that can not be duplicated under any other circumstances will be forged, and it will endure. I will say a silent prayer for them, and ask that this time they both make it back home, safe and sound, to enjoy other Thanksgiving Days in the warmth and comfort of their homes, with families that may even make an effort to understand why this day has such meaning for their returned warriors.

And although I won't share it with my family and friends because it is just too personal and private, I will find a moment to remember Thanksgiving Day, 1968, Quang Tri, Vietnam, and I'll raise my glass to toast Billy Bazemore, a new guy who long ago taught a lesson in Marine brotherhood to a veteran.
Sunday, November 19, 2006

Kissinger Calls For Mid-East Slaughter! Sets Stage For Millions to Die - Again! Kerry Finally Apologizes

Former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, whose unmatched negotiation skills in 1972 and 1973 set the stage for the fall of South Vietnam after both the US and the South Vietnamese had pushed the communists to the brink of surrender, now says we can't win in Iraq either.

For those who were born after 1975, Henry Alfred Kissinger was the 56th Secretary of State from 1973 to 1977, under presidents Nixon and Ford, and prior to assuming that role was charged with creating and implementing the US concessions at the Paris Peace Talks.

Quoted often on matters of international intrigue, the most important of Kissinger's comments back before the south fell, that if the US could work with a communist government on mainland China there was no reason why we couldn't do so in Vietnam also, was buried by the World Terrorist Media, but has lately resurfaced. That one quote says everything about the true intent of the man America trusted to give us the real scoop on the war in Vietnam and how to win it.

Before becoming Secretary of State, Kissinger was named by Nixon in 1969 to be Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, a position he continued to hold until 1975.

If there is any one individual left alive and functioning who can be fingered for creating the conditions that led directly to the deaths of 3 million Cambodians at the hands of the communist Khmer Rouge, an estimated half-million South Vietnamese in prison camps and as boat people fleeing the Vietnamese communists on the South China Sea, as well as an unknown number of Laotians, it is Kissinger. He also is the quintessential villain who trivialized the deaths of more than 58,000 Americans and a million South Vietnamese who stood their ground against communism.

In an interview on British television Sunday, Kissinger threw in the towel on our efforts in Iraq, saying the U.S. government must enter into "dialogue" with Iraq's regional neighbors - including Iran - if any progress is to be made in the region.

I've said it a million times before, and I'll say it again until it sticks somewhere that matters: The only dialogue you can have with terrorists is on the terms for your surrender. Otherwise, it is not a dialogue it is just a delaying tactic on their part until they find another way to hit you.

If you are sincerely talking with terrorists, it is because you are a spineless excuse of a human who has fooled himself into believing that betraying the rest of humanity is an acceptable price for cutting a deal for yourself. You, then, are not only despicable you are truly in denial and as much as I would like to cause it myself, the last thing I want to be around to see is the look of comprehension as it slowly spreads over your vapid visage when you realize there are no deals with terrorists. It will come in the seconds before they slowly separate your head from the rest of your body.

But by then it will be too late for Henry Kissinger and all the rest of us if we let that brain-dead, elitist charlatan have any meaningful input on the world stage and the War on Terror.

Kissinger's views also have been sought out by the Iraqi Study Group, led by former Secretary of State James Baker III, which is all the reason I need to reject just about anything that comes from that bunch. If they are so inept that they need Kissinger to give them advice, we are truly screwed if we take them seriously.

For the record, the US and South Vietnamese annihilated 1.4 million communist troops in the Vietnam War and pushed them twice to a point of military collapse, once in 1969 when most of the fighting was done by US troops, and again during the Easter invasion in 1972 when the communist north invaded the south. The communists lost more than 50 percent of their invading forces, including armor and artillery, through the combined efforts of the South Vietnamese ground forces and American air power.

In both cases, American politicians squandered the military victories, first in early 1969 when Nixon prematurely announced that he was going to begin withdrawing US forces, and the second when Kissinger handed the communists virtually everything they wanted in Paris in '72. The Peace Accords were signed in early '73, supposedly allowing both the free south and the communist north to remain viable governments.

But then the leftists in the US Congress, such as John Murtha and Ted Kennedy, cut off all aid to South Vietnam through measures such as the Church-Case Amendment. In 1975, after a series of speeches by then-President Gerald Ford, who had succeeded Nixon, that he considered Vietnam a non-issue for the US, the north again invaded the south and this time was victorious when the southern government and armed forces collapsed.

If you want to know what is going to happen in the Middle East if we listen to Kissinger and anyone who really thinks this guy is talking out of anything other than his butt, just study the recent history of Southeast Asia. You may also want to research the origins of the War on Terror because another ramification of the US duplicity in Vietnam was to encourage the terrorists to take shots at us, all of which began during the mid-1970s.

I don't make this up. It is all there for anyone to see if you are serious enough and objective enough to look it up.


After repeatedly bringing him back to his reprehensible comments just before the recent elections on the intellectual capabilities of American troops, Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace finally wrung an apology out of Massachusetts Senator John Kerry.

Kerry kept trying to duck Wallace's interrogatories on the issue, and kept blaming it all on George Bush and the "GOP Attack Machine" (gee, can I get one to use as a home security system??).

But Wallace ultimately aired an email copy of a letter to Kerry from the mother of a deceased Marine who was killed in May in Iraq by a roadside bomb. The Marine had left his college studies in computer engineering to defend his country. His mother's outrage was complete, unwavering, and totally understandable, but even though her letter was delivered to Kerry immediately after his comments, he still didn't apologize until cornered by Wallace.

But even then, in virtually the same sentence, Kerry again tried to blame it all on George Bush! I have seen the tapes of Kerry's statement a hundred times and not once did I see George Bush on the stage. So what are we to believe? George Bush is a long-distance ventriloquist? Wow!

Does anyone remember the Flip Wilson character, Geraldine, who used the line "The devil made me do it?" Is that Kerry or what? This guy still wants to be president but his mind hasn't moved on since the third grade.

Wallace also asked Kerry if he really thought he could make another run for the presidency. Kerry said the voters will decide.

Hey Kerry! Yo! Genius-man! The voters already decided. They told you to hit the bricks. Haven't heard a thing since 2004 that would change that. Keep walking buddy. Head on down the road counting your change. We're done doing business with you.

Too bad Wallace didn't have time to ask Kerry if he has learned where plutonium comes from since Kerry appeared on the same show a month ago.

Note to Fox News: On the subtitles you post when Kerry appears. He served in the US Navy from '66 to '72, not '70. That is the basis for some of the Swift Boat veterans' accusations against him -- that he was still in the Naval Reserve when he lied before Congress under oath about US troop activities in Vietnam, and when he secretly conspired with the communists in Paris.

Get it right will you? It matters.
Friday, November 17, 2006

Goodbye John Bolton; Hello Term Limits?

One of the first things we can expect to see from the newly elected Democratic Congress is the political demise of John Bolton, America's ambassador to the Untied Nations. This isn't news. Everyone knows it, and everyone who voted in the recent election knew that his removal would be one result of the Democrats taking over Congress.

By virtually all accounts, Bolton, who is exactly the type of no-nonsense, no appeasement, no pulled-punches representative we have needed in that farce of an international culture club for a generation, does not have the votes in the new Congress to keep his temporary appointment. It also isn't likely that the new leadership of the House and Senate will have some sort of epiphany when they take a hard look at what is going on in that sewage treatment plant off the East River, so as with the current flood of evacuees from the Pentagon, we can expect to see him go too.

I have no doubt that his replacement will be a soft-spoken, hand wringing, forever smiling, forever spineless antithesis of Bolton. He or she will be of the mindset that the United States has no business being the United States, even though from the time of its formation to the present it has been peopled and advanced by outcast and downtrodden masses from Europe, Africa and Asia's dictatorships and monarchies, who have given the world a look at what really happens when we all are equal under the law.

No, we will get a politically correct apologist who lies awake at night torn into psychological shreds over the unfairness of a nation of immigrants proving the value of democracy while so many aristocrats and thugs are being hounded from their comfortable, overbearing, often murderous lifestyles and forced to fend for themselves.

Just look at "Old" Europe with its remnants of governments and ideologies gone by. It is personified by everlasting cocktail parties and soirees attended by contingents of champagne-sipping elitists wearing uniforms from long-vanquished armies, and jewelry stolen from the national treasuries of countries that ceased to exist as political entities generations ago.

American elitists believe these poor folks have been hounded and oppressed long enough. It is time for them to reacquire their rightful places of honor. After all, the Divine Right of Kings has not been repealed or disproven in their minds, and they believe it is obviously time to reassert the only true political ideology the world has seen.

They will, however, have to make room for the nouveau riche from the oil producing countries of the world. And they'll have to acknowledge the newly religiously powerful, as well as the resurgent communists, all of whom believe in their divine rights to rule the masses much as the old aristocrats did.

To accommodate all these born-again monarchs our new ambassador will be tied up twenty-four/seven appeasing and attempting to manipulate their conflicting aggressions and power grabs. No room in that mix for looking out for the interests of the United States.

Once again, the elitists from this country will be able to mix with elitists from European countries without having to apologize for our crudeness and lack of good manners and upbringing. The brie will be warm and pliable, the wine will linger on the palate with the most pleasant of aftertastes and the world order will be restored.

And the United States will again be viewed across the globe as an oaf, a sap, a dupe, a prime target for international muggings -- but no one will come out and say it so our aristocrats can look the other way in an orgy of denial. The citizenry of this once-great country will again watch its collective blood pressure increase exponentially and wonder how in hell this happened. Hey, you get what you vote for.

Which brings me to term limits. If you read previous posts at this site you know I am a supporter of Connecticut Congressman Rob Simmons who lost his bid for re-election by 90 votes. So it many seem to be somewhat of a contradiction when I say this is a classic example of why we need term limits, but it is not.

Simmons, like every other Congressman in the country, served two-year terms, meaning he faced re-election every other year. Political campaigns being what they are these days, that meant we got one year of his undivided attention working on issues that concerned our district, state and country before he had to divide his attention to spend the second year of each term running for office.

That meant out of a six-year term of service we got three years of real work and three years of campaigning. This happens to every Congressman out there.

The Senate on the other hand, serves six-year terms, so Senators give us five years of work, well maybe, for every one year of campaigning.

Thus the House is far more susceptible to the shifting winds of American political opinion, and good Congressmen like Simmons are far more likely to be ousted over dissatisfaction with issues that have nothing to do with them.

The voter registration in Simmons's district is weighted so heavily in favor of the Democrats that we can easily conclude that a Republican congressman serving three terms is living proof that district voters aren't all that happy with Democratic policies at the national level.

The fact that Simmons lost by only 90 votes further illustrates this point, and that his opponent didn't win because of overwhelming popularity or for that matter dissatisfaction with Simmons. Simmons may have lost support due to national and international matters but he didn't lose the election because his opponent was overwhelmingly seen as a better prospect. Simmons lost because local politicians played fast and loose with the electorate and he paid the price. (See post from Nov. 15.)

So why terms limits? Well, first I believe we should change the terms so Congressmen serve four years and Senators serve four years. Their terms should be staggered so a state isn't faced with reelecting its entire Congressional delegation at once.

Everyone else including governors and presidents gets four-year terms, so why not the Congress?

Service in each house should be limited to two terms. That means if you are a Congressman you can serve only eight years if the voters send you back after your first term. Same for the Senators. But out of eight years you get seven years of real work, instead of the 50-50 version we have now.

Under my plan you can serve eight years as both senator and congressman if the voters like you that much, so in total you could serve 16 years. But that would be it. And if the voters weren't happy with you, they'd have a shot at ousting you every four years.

This would put a real crimp on the need for lobbyists in Washington, who really are running the country, and would make all our congressional representatives far more responsive to the voters, while at the same time buffering them somewhat from whims and fleeting distractions.

Senators would be far more responsive than they are now, Representatives would have a little breathing room, which they desperately need, and the public still would be adequately served.

Best of all, we would be spared those news clips of dinosaurs roaming the halls of Congress. You know who they are. They are returned time and time again because everyone who is anyone in their state party structure owes their jobs to them, and because all the lobbyists on K Street in Washington are only too happy to pour an unending supply of greenbacks into the reelection machines.

Then there would be things we could count on, like responsiveness in government, far greater public input, reduction of bought-and-paid-for Senators, and reasonable assurance that people who really are doing the work of the American people, like John Bolton, will stay on the job long enough to have some positive results.

The only downside I see to this is that a bunch of elitists who are totally out of touch with reality will have to face up to the fact that they really aren't smarter or better than the rest of us. That won't be a pretty sight to be sure, but what the heck, it will keep the American psychiatric community in business for at least another generation.
Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Rob Simmons Lost, Courtney Won; Blame It On Voting Machine #2 At Hebron Elementary School

The recount in Connecticut's 2nd Congressional District gives Democrat Joe Courtney a win by less than 100 votes out of nearly a quarter million cast.

For those like me who are sorely disappointed at the outcome you can blame voting machine #2 at the Hebron Elementary School in Hebron, CT. That is the machine I voted on and like every other one of the eight machines in use on Election Day, it registered about 100 votes less for Rob Simmons than for Republican Governor Jodi Rell who was separated from Simmons' slot on the ballot by only one space.

That means that for some reason about 50 of my friends and neighbors voted for the Republican Governor, but then switched and voted for a Democratic Congressional candidate. Or, 100 of my friends and neighbors voted for the governor, but simply did not vote for Simmons. Either way, that cost Simmons the election. We'll go into that in a minute.

The same thing happened on the other seven machines and they are up for grabs as scapegoats. But I voted on Machine #2 and that one is mine.

Pundits have been rehashing the election results for a week now and it is unlikely that they'll delve deeply into this race what with things pretty much settled out in Washington D.C.

But several months ago I sent a note to an acquaintance in Washington, making the point that what happens in Hebron is indeed important to the overall scheme of things on the national level and it would not be a good thing for the national Republican Party to ignore events out here. Obviously, the national Republican Party didn't agree with me. Obviously, they were wrong!

Although the closeness of the final vote, not uncommon in this district, which has a much higher Democratic voter registration than Republican, with independents holding the trump card, may have reflected voters' mood on national matters, the real issue behind those 50 switched votes on Machine #2 has little to do with Rob Simmons.

Rather it has everything to do with a Republican candidate for the state's 19th Senate District, an 11-town island smack in the middle of the 2nd Congressional District, made up of 10 rural or suburban towns, and the small city of Norwich. The candidate, Matthew M. Daly, announced his intent to run for the 19th District seat in January 2005, two months after the previous Republican candidate, Catherine Marx, was trounced by the incumbent Democrat, octogenarian Edith Prague, by 27 percentage points.

Daly's announcement apparently upset some well-crafted plans by local and state Republicans on who was to next face off against Prague, and his candidacy was not embraced either on the local or state levels. For starters, Marx maintained well into 2006 that she was still considering a second run against Prague, hoping that two years as the just-designated Eastern Connecticut representative for Gov. Rell, with an office in Norwich, would give her the needed name recognition to do a better job the second time.

But Daly forged ahead with his campaign. When the convention date arrived Daly stood alone and received the unanimous endorsement. That is key here. If Daly wasn't considered an optimum candidate by the party hierarchy in Hartford, then they damn well should have put someone up to challenge him.

They didn't, which makes what followed even more reprehensible.

At that point in his campaign Daly had assumed one of two things would happen. Either the state party would finally jump on the bandwagon, or he would go it alone, albeit with enough financial backing to do a full-court PR job. It was widely assumed he would need from $80,000 to $100,000 to do an adequate job of getting his message across.

But a third possibility arose, one that had not been fully considered in the pre-convention planning. The state and local party structures began an all-out campaign against their own candidate, with Republican State Central Committee members bad-mouthing him at every turn or ignoring him when it suited their needs, town chairman (the equivalent of city ward bosses) refusing to help out even with updated voter registration lists, and the money handlers at party central closing the tap completely.

One group of state-level operatives even rewrote a TV commercial a PR firm had prepared for Daly, substituting it with a wordy, badly produced version that showed Daly perpetually scowling (he was faced INTO the sun, a no-no if you want a pleasant appearance) that surely would have cost him even more votes if it had run.

One State Central Committee member from Norwich had vowed that Daly would win the nomination "over my dead body." That didn't happen, but the Norwich Republican Town Chairman twice scheduled appearances for Daly before the full Town Committee and twice cancelled the meetings by telephone without notifying Daly or his staff.

To be sure, Daly brought on some problems himself. He is plain spoken, blunt some would say, doesn't hesitate to call out centrists in his own party, and has burned some bridges locally in his short political life. But he obviously thought that either the party would close ranks behind him, or he would be able to go it alone as long as he had the financial means.

Marx had raised about $60,000 in her campaign, and Daly counted on a similar amount. That much, judiciously applied to an effective PR campaign, was considered enough to do the job. In the end, he raised less than half that amount, with only $1,000 coming from the state party very late in the game, and $500 from his own local town committee, a quarter of the amount that same body had donated to the Marx campaign two years earlier.

Did I mention that Marx was by now the acting chairman of the Hebron Republican Town Committee? Or that the immediate past-chairman of that committee is one of Daly's biggest detractors? Those are important pieces of the puzzle.

But even with the level of opposition aligned against him Daly felt he had an untapped source of votes with area Catholics, especially since a diocese is headquartered in Norwich, area veterans sided with him, and the NRA gave him an A rating while his opponent got an F.

But then the boom was lowered. While campaigning in Norwich Daly found that he had been labeled through a widespread and highly effective whisper campaign as a former member of the Ku Klux Klan. (Please see my post from Oct. 30)

Initially Daly thought this was a Democratic dirty trick, and believed he could offset it by publicizing his long-term support for minority causes.

But then he discovered that the story was being spread throughout Republican households in Norwich as well as among Democratic and independent voters. His own party was falsely labeling him a bigot in the one town in the district with a sizeable minority population.

In the end it worked. Daly pulled only 30 percent of the vote, although many in his opponent's camp thought he wouldn't get more than 10 percent. With his own party so actively engaged against him, Democratic insiders saw Daly not as a Republican, although he bore the label, but as an independent candidate who, like most independents, would poll single digits at best.

But Daly's detractors in his own party apparently didn't think through the residual effects of their blind and overzealous mission to keep him from being elected. They didn't think two moves down the chess board, as in "If I play this piece and I take that piece, how vulnerable do I then become?"

Because if they had thought two moves down the chess board they may well have thought about the concept of guilt by association. "If Matt Daly is a bigoted radical, in an election where things in Washington are already turning off the base, why should I vote for any Republican, other than the governor who is everyone's favorite grandmother?"

It was obvious on election night, as party bosses from Hebron listened to the vote tallies that they were truly pleased at Daly's numbers falling far short of Prague's. It was equally obvious that they were oblivious to the precipitous drop-off from Gov. Rell's numbers to Rob Simmons'.

In the end the Connecticut Republican Party was successful in killing Matt Daly's campaign, and simultaneously killed Rob Simmons' campaign. When the dust settled, power had shifted in the nation's capitol, and Jodi Rell was elected as a lame-duck governor presiding over a state legislature that has such lopsided Democratic majorities that we are in effect a one-party state and both houses can override any veto Rell may attempt to levy on bills she doesn't like.

But one of the most effective, knowledgeable members of the state Congressional delegation is packing his office and moving home.

All because of the bitterness and manipulations of a few myopic gamesmen and women, who probably don't realize it yet, but they have killed their own political careers too. And it all happened in the Hebron Elementary School on voting machine #2.
Sunday, November 05, 2006

Of Mice (Ned Lamont) And Men (Rob Simmons)

The above headline is not intended as a Steinbeck rip-off, but it sure does fit when you compare the campaign styles and personal characters of two major figures on the Connecticut, and thus the national political scene.

Back in September I wrote how Democratic US Senate candidate Ned Lamont showed disdain and disrespect for veterans when he turned his back on several, including registered Democrats, who were waiting to meet him at the American Legion hamburger booth at the Hebron (CT) Harvest Fair, and then ran away when boos erupted.

I noted that Republican US Congressman Rob Simmons came along shortly afterward with a different take on being booed. Simmons is a decorated US Army Vietnam Veteran who has extraordinarily strong support among veterans because, among other things, he is one of the members of Congress who doesn't embellish his war record.

Simmons shook hands and chatted with the vets at the burger booth, and noted that during infantry officer training he was schooled to "face into the ambush and return fire."

I bring this all up again because last week it was Simmons' turn to face into the ambush and I was there to see it. The way it was handled, once again, says all we need to know about the character of the man.

I was invited to a news conference prior to the last debate between Simmons and his opponent, Democrat Joe Courtney, where it was to be announced that Simmons has received the National Veterans of Foreign Wars Political Action Committee endorsement. I am a past commander of my local Veterans of Foreign Wars post, and while I can't make an endorsement as a VFW member, nor can my post, my state VFW, nor the national, it was acceptable for me and other VFW and American Legion members to do a short reading of the VFW PAC's endorsement and answer media questions.

But first we had to get inside the venue, which in this case was a public high school in Enfield Connecticut. The reason that getting inside was an issue was that outside were about 75 members of various labor unions from the area who had been brought in by the Joe Courtney campaign(Simmons' Democratic opponent) to demonstrate against Simmons.

The union guys were outside nearly two hours ahead of the scheduled debate, with organizers running them through drills of the chants they would use as debate time drew near and the public began arriving. It was an intimidating scene to be sure, even though, as many at the debate pointed out, the union guys were paid to be there, which stands to reason. If a union member is going to organize for better wages and benefits then he should at least get paid scale for union organized events.

Since I was a union man years ago when I first was discharged from the Marines I also figured that a lot of the demonstrators are vets themselves and are probably aware in private that Simmons has done far more for organized labor than his opponent.

All of this was secondary, however, to the fact that Simmons had to walk right through this gathering to get to the entry door. When he arrived for the news conference I joined a contingent of about 10 veterans to meet him outside and provide an honor escort. We started through the union ranks, and were met with total respect, for which I offer a thank-you to the unions.

They did, however, begin their chants as Simmons passed, and here is where I took the measure of the man. I was in the lead, initially with Simmons right behind me, but I looked over my shoulder when we were halfway to the entry, only to discover that Simmons had stopped and walked right over to the demonstrators.

He didn't get very far with them, in terms of meaningful dialogue, but he did do exactly what he had said he would do when we talked at the Harvest Fair burger booth two months earlier.

He faced into the ambush and he returned fire. There were several younger members of his volunteer staff with him and I could see that the shouts and chants made them uncomfortable, which the Congressman could clearly see also. He lingered for as long as it took to establish that he was willing to talk, then resumed his walk inside.

Had there been an opportunity for true discourse I'm sure Simmons could have more than held his own on his stance on labor issues that have come to Congress during his tenure. This obviously wasn't going to happen, since the labor forces were not being paid to have conversations, they were paid to demonstrate.

But what was really important was that Simmons demonstrated once again that he doesn't just talk, he follows his words with appropriate actions. He didn't try to find an alternate means of entering the debate, like a side or back door, he walked right in the front door, right past the demonstrators, and on to the press conference.

I'm not sure just what the Courtney campaign was hoping to accomplish by bringing in hired labor demonstrators. I was told that some of them don't even live in Connecticut, residing instead in nearby Massachusetts where the taxes are much lower and their paychecks go much further.

In previous debates along the Connecticut shoreline some demonstrators were said to have come in from Rhode Island. Obviously Courtney wants to give an impression of support that may not be there, and as usual the Connecticut media has made no attempt to inform the public that not all the pro-Courtney people it interviews are on hand for reasons of political philosophy.

You can't help contrasting Simmons' actions last week with Lamont's actions in September. I read the other day that Lamont has now poured about $16 million of his own money into his campaign against Sen. Joe Lieberman, who still is holding a double digit lead over Lamont in the latest polls, no matter who did them, how small or large the polling sample, or how skewed the questions.

Lieberman is so far ahead of Lamont that there doesn't appear to be a margin of error involved, just a margin of victory.

You have to wonder, what can we learn from a guy who says that his status as a self-made millionaire businessman justifies his desire to go to Congress to manage our money? Yet he has invested $16 million of his personal income for a failed campaign to get a job that pays $165,200 per year. That means he would have to be a Senator for a century just to break even!

Far more important, however, is the character issue. Lamont showed his in September, and since then has showed that he honestly believes you can buy the American voter with slick commercials and advertisements rather than character and performance.

For my money, there is a reason why guys like Rob Simmons don't have to pay demonstrators to give false impressions of their support. Guys like him, who have character in abundance, get their support the old-fashioned way. They work for it.


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