Letters to the editor
Support local businesses
Recently Fairfield has focused, quite wisely, on attempting to inspire its citizens to patronize our local merchants through signs and other campaigns. The absence of service and value for time spent at many national retailers make it a smart decision for a myriad of reasons.
I would like to provide one example of an experience our family recently had with a local merchant we feel should be singled out for both praise and patronage.
Due to a death in our family, my wife and I scrambled at the last minute to get a signet ring engraved for our daughter's 16th birthday. After approaching several national jewelry chains, we happened to be downtown and stopped in Fairfield Center Jewelers
With the ring I had purchased elsewhere for my wife years before.
After telling the owner our situation, he told us they could do it and to stop back after 4 p.m. later that day. My wife and I shared some jokes and concerns over how much this rush service was going to cost but were resolved to pay whatever it would cost.
When we went to retrieve the ring, the staff cheerfully handed it over, at no cost. After handshakes and hugs, we departed replete in the knowledge that we had a new jewelry store and that kindness and service are good for business in the long term. Please patronize local merchants when you can. It may just make your day.
Tom and Lara Linsenmeyer
Help during the storm
On Saturday, March 13, during a storm that at times reached biblical proportions, my wife, Karen Sussman, and I decided to go grocery shopping.
As we headed down Stillson, we noticed that a tree had fallen across the road, blocking a long line of cars that were heading north. When we drove past, my wife saw one lone, wet, Good Samaritan who was struggling to remove the fallen tree. She looked at me and said "You have to stop and help him."
Like a dutiful husband, I pulled over, looked out at the wind and the rain, looked back at my wife, grumbled, and got out of the car. I reached in the trunk to grab the gloves and saw that I happened to have, and headed for the tree.
As I walked, I wondered who was this man hunched over in the rain ... some modern-day Noah looking for the last few cubits of wood that he needed to help float Fairfield to safety? Or maybe just a local David willing to do battle against Mother Nature's Goliath?
Either way, when I got near, I yelled out "I'll help you." Only then did our waterlogged lumberjack raise his head. Startled, I said, "Ken?"
Yes, the Good Samaritan hunched over in the rain was none other than First Selectman Ken Flatto.
Flatto smiled and said, "Thanks for stopping," and, "Great, you've got a saw." And then, like the good manager that he is, he got back to work and said, "I think if you cut here and here and here, we can remove enough of the branches, so the cars can get around it."
With the help of Jeff Dean, a neighborhood homeowner, we completed our task and headed for shelter.
As I walked back to my car, I thought: if Ken Flatto is willing to get out, by himself, in the midst of one of the worst storms in recent memory, to try and remove a tree, what other good deeds has he been quietly doing to help our town without the need for publicity or thanks.
Come next election time, I hope the local voters remember Flatto and what he did during the great storm of 2010 ... I know that I will.
Steve Grathwohl (Registered Independent)
Fawcett needs to go
I have to admit to being somewhat amused at having seen that state Representatives Kim Fawcett and Tom Drew were signatories of a letter by so-called Democratic "moderates" urging their leadership that spending cuts were needed to tackle the current budget deficit.
First, it should be of great interest to all taxpayers that the consideration of spending cuts during this economy is such a break from the orthodoxy and dogma of the liberals running Hartford that a letter had to be written. It is also sad that out of 138 Democrats in the legislature only 15 are willing to look at spending cuts.
And while it is a pretty good act for Fawcett and Drew to make an effort to look like fiscal conservatives just as they coincidentally enter their political re-election phase, their record says something far different. Both legislators voted in favor of the massive Democratic budgets that have been offered over the past two years which proposed to increase taxes by $2.3 billion.
Fawcett also manages to have flip-flopped on the same Democratic budget having voted against it in committee and in favor of it on the floor of the House.
Neither of these legislators is "moderate" despite what they may say. Their words claim they want to reign in runaway government spending. Their votes show they are looking to raise taxes on the residents of their districts during a time when we can afford it least.
No one should be fooled by this charade.
As a co-founder of Right Principles, a grassroots organization focused on returning our government to the ideals of individual freedom and fiscal restraint, I'm proud to be endorsing Chris DeSanctis for the Republican nomination for District 132 State Representative on May 18.
DeSanctis is not just eminently experienced for the position; he's also not a professional politician. He'll bring a much needed focus and tenacity to our state government because he understands what most families already know: that Hartford politicians, like Tom Drew, have to stop spending more than they are taking in and borrowing more than they can pay back. Currently the state budget spends some 11 percent on debt service and the state's bond rating is among the lowest in the nation. DeSanctis knows this is simply unsustainable. Please join me in supporting Chris DeSanctis at the Republican primary on May 18. He is a man who can be trusted to stand on his principles.
Bob MacGuffie, Co-founder, Right Principles,
`Let's be honest brokers'
I have been following with interest the musings of several area citizens who opine frequently in the pages of your newspaper, particularly that of Ssg. Wynn Allen, who has taken it upon himself to become a one-man crusader against health care reform.
His latest effort in the March 12 Citizen is so far beyond the pale it requires a willingness to suspend factual belief in order to agree with his assertions. First of all Ssg. Allen, elections do matter. Rush Limbaugh chastised liberals and Democrats complaining about many of the tactics that Mr. Bush and the previous administration were using to advance their agenda when they were in power in this manner ... "Shut up and stop whining until you have won an election!" Well sir, the Democrats have won an election, actually the last three congressional elections and the presidency. I suspect that if health care reform is passed and it positively affects people's lives (contrary to the dire warnings of doom coming from the right) then they may not pay at the ballot box as much as you think. If it doesn't ... then they will, and rightly so.
Ssg. Allen, you assert that President Barack Obama is a "progressive dictator ruling from the extreme liberal left with his own agenda." As to the dictatorial charge, I would argue that unnecessary war-mongering, warrantless wiretapping of American citizens, mass firings of Justice Department prosecutors due to political allegiance, outing of CIA agents and torture by the Bush administration are far more grievous examples of dictatorial behavior than the current president attempting to push legislation he believes will be good for the country through Congress. I can also assure you sir, as a proud liberal, that with the absence of a strong public option, the delivery of millions of new customers to the same insurance companies that have gouged the American public for years, and compromise after compromise that have diluted a real health reform effort into its present state, Obama is certainly not catering to his progressive base with this present health care proposal.
Many people on the liberal side would argue that the bill does not go far enough. I agree but I support it because it saves lives, pure and simple -- thousands of people die each year because they do not have access to, or have lost, or cannot afford health insurance. The lives of these people are far more precious than any ideological divide. It is not a perfect bill, and it can certainly be argued that it is not politically expedient to support it, largely because of the millions of dollars spent by the insurance lobby spreading lies and clear falsehoods such as "death panels" duly parroted by Republican politicians and the right-wing media machine led by Fox News. Republicans have made the craven calculation that it is better politically to do nothing about an unsustainable situation that will eventually affect us all. "Politics, Power and Party" over policy is the mantra of the Party of No.
To all the newly minted fiscal hawks (since January 2009) who decry the cost of the proposal consider that it is estimated that an average family's health care costs will nearly double by 2020, health care costs will reach 21 percent of our GDP by 2020, and rapidly rising premiums like the 39 percent increase sought by Anthem Blue Cross this year in California will make it harder and harder for employers (particularly small business) to provide quality heath insurance for employees. Even those who have insurance today may be less secure and more likely to lose coverage if they switch or lose their job. The simple fact is that this bill prevents denial of coverage for preexisting conditions, will protect against arbitrary premium hikes, prohibits revoking coverage if you get sick or injured and caps unlimited out-of-pocket expenses. It will also insure millions of Americans who currently lack coverage. It will in the long run save money and reduce the deficit.
Conservatives rail against the intrusion of government into the lives of its citizens, (unless it is a matter of sexual preference or reproductive rights) but what higher responsibility can a government have than to help protect the health and lives of its citizenry? This is not, as the propagandists would have you believe, a government takeover of health care, it is government oversight of a for-profit industry that has made billions of dollars for its executives and shareholders. If you like your current doctor and plan, you can keep them, you will not be forced to change. There will not, as the propagandists would have you believe, be government bureaucrats between you and your doctor; there are already people that in many cases overrule your doctor, determine your treatment, tell you what level of care you may have and decide if you are viable -- they are called insurance company representatives.
Finally, a few words about the misinformation regarding the legislative process that Ssg. Allen passes on in his letter straight from the daily talking point memos from the Republican National Committee echoed by the Republican leadership in Congress and reinforced by its media wing, conservative talk radio and Fox News. The Senate has passed a health care bill with 60 votes. The House has passed a health care bill with a majority. Using the reconciliation process to pass a final bill with 51 votes in the Senate is hardly a gorilla legislative tactic, and Republican efforts to portray its use as such is a breathtaking hypocrisy given that since 1981 and 2009 the reconciliation process has been used 22 times, eight times by a Democratic-controlled Congress and 14 times by a Republican-controlled Congress to pass bills such as COBRA insurance, expanded Medicaid eligibility, increases in the earned income tax credit, welfare reform, the S-CHIP children's insurance program, student aid reform and two Bush tax cuts for the wealthy.
I would also wager that Ssg. Allen, as a person who obviously takes an interest in politics and current events, knows what the true meaning of the term "Nuclear Option" that he mentions twice in his letter really is. The "nuclear option" is an idea Republicans came up with in 2005, when the GOP controlled the White House, the House of Representatives and enjoyed a 55 vote majority in the Senate. Democrats were blocking consideration of some right-wing judicial nominees, and Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss), then chairman of the Senate Rules Committee and Sen. Bill First (R-TN), then the Majority Leader came up with something they called the "nuclear option". This was a scheme about finding a way around Senate Rule 22, which says 60 votes are needed to end debate (can anyone say filibuster?), and 67 votes are needed to change the Senate rules. The "nuclear option" was intended to change the rules with 50 votes instead of 67. Lately, the Fox News crowd has been using the phrase to describe passing the health care legislation through the reconciliation process, even though reconciliation has been used plenty of times, and has never been called that before.
Political debate in this country is a freedom to be cherished, and any ground-breaking legislation such as health care reform is bound to spur disagreements in fiscal and social policy and political philosophy. Many people on both sides of the argument have legitimate concerns that need to be addressed and debated, but let's be honest brokers. As the late Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan said, "You are entitled to your own opinion; you are not entitled to your own facts."
`Are you kidding me?'
Prolific ad hominen basher of President Barack Obama, and health care reform opponent, letter-writer Julie Criscuolo, covered a lot of territory in her recent letter (Fairfield Citizen, March 10) but her arguments were riddled with self-contradiction, mischaracterization, and outright silliness.
Take this self-contradiction for example: She writes, "the youth who surged to elect Obama, now known as the `Millennials,' reject the expansion of government because they believe the government's negligence helped cause this severe economic crisis." I think that's called an oxymoronic statement, because you can't have it both ways. You can't reject government expansion and also complain that they didn't do enough.
And her characterization of the Millennials (today's 18- to 29-year-olds) happens to be incorrect because, truth be told, if you are to believe the Pew Research Center, which is conducting extensive research on the Millennial generation, Millennials believe the government should be doing more to solve our problems.
Her railing about opposition to Obama's health care reform program, based on her criticism of Canada's health care system, is another mischaracterization because the current health care bill being considered by Congress is not for a Canadian-style, government-run, single-payer health care system. This is a fable made up by right-wing media outlets, to set up a straw man argument for health care reform opponents to use as a punching bag and to mis-lead.
She concludes her letter with her plan for bringing down health care costs, including a list of things that will not improve your health. Heading that list is "doctor visits." Are you kidding me? For the first time I'm at a loss for words. What can you say in response to that?