Monday, July 30, 2007

To me, dropping the bomb was personal

I hope everyone had a nice weekend, despite the weather.

The two stories we last week promised to cover are still developing. The large area banks haven't yet made up their minds whether to honor the New Haven identification cards. Details on the work on the cemeteries after the vandalism last April are still gelling. Stay tuned.

Today (July 30, 2007), I want to talk about the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, an event that occurred more than 60 years ago, but is still being debated, especially now when the anniversary (August 6)is close.

Many if not most of the people who debate the decision by President Truman to drop the atomic bomb "Little Boy" on the city, resulting in 70,000 immediate deaths, were not born when the bomb was dropped. In fact, the parents of many of these people were not born or were little children at the time.

For me, this isn't a debate about ethics or strategy. For me, it's way too personal.

Let's let our minds drift back to 1945.

A ship crammed with American soldiers and their gear steams in the sweltering steam bath that is the South Pacific in summer. On deck stands a soldier, a technical corporal, the veteran of battles for New Britain island, the Philippines and a dozen other dots on the map.

The ship, which had been steam purposefully is now steaming slowly in circles, barely making steerage way.

The soldier, like many of his companions in the Amphibious Engineers, knows the sound and smell and fear of battle. He also knows he is about to embark on a battle that would make the others seem like a child's game.

His wife and young son wait for him in Brooklyn, N.Y., and he hopes that his prayers have resulted in orders that mean life, not death. He hopes, but knows the hopes are probably in vain. He knows that he will be sent to invade Japan, and knows the odds of survival are bleak.

Suddenly, he's aware of a change on the ship, like clouds parting and revealing the sun. Smiles start to appear on officers' faces. Rumors start circulating: Something significant has happened.

Then the word comes down -- two super bombs have been dropped on Japan and the Japanese have quit. The invasion is off. The death sentences have been commuted.

After a few hours, after the official announcement, the soldier joins the other officers, both commissioned and non-commissioned, and persuades the company commander to open the now-superseded orders. The death warrants had been signed and sealed, but they, the soldiers, had been delivered from them.

They said the corporal's regiment would lead the invasion of such a place on the home islands of Japan. They said the regiment could expect approximately 100 percent casualties.

The soldier was my father.

Were it not for the atomic bombs being dropped on Japan, he would have never returned, as he did in 1946 after serving in the occupation forces in Japan. My mother and I could not have met him at the railroad. I could not have told him to take off those boots and put on shoes like all the other daddies.

He could not have guided me and my sister and later my step-brothers and sisters, my wife and still later his grandchildren. Thousands of veterans in Connecticut could not have benefited from his volunteer work that led to his induction into the first class at the Connecticut Veterans Hall of Fame.

My father died in 1999, but we had him for 54 years before his burial with full military honors.

Don't talk to me about the atomic bomb and ethics or philosophy. You'll never convince me dropping the bomb was anything other than the right act at the right time.

To me, this is way too personal.

Until next time....

Friday, July 27, 2007

A quickie before the weekend

Sorry for writing so late, but the day just gets away from one.

I read in the New Haven Independent that Sovereign Bank has said it would take the new New Haven city identity card with a passport to allow an illegal alien to open a checking account.

Hmmmm. Methinks that someone might be able to open an account with just a passport.

The main question, however, is: How many of the illegals have valid passports? They are undocumented. I wonder if a Mexican citizen with a valid passport can enter the U.S. without a visa, just as a U.S. citizen could enter Mexico, before the Bushies decided to make things difficult for travelers.

So far, Len'sLens survey found one major bank saying "No Way" and others saying they are still thinking about it.

We will report our findings when the banks make up their minds.

Until, then, have a great weekend and for those in the Tribe: Have a great Shabbos.

Until next time...

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Who says you can't go home again? Me

Before we get to the headlined essay, I have two things on which I'm working and want to alert you faithful readers that they are coming.

The first has to do with the New Haven mayor's identity card initiative.

I happened to be doing some bank business yesterday at a branch of one of the many big banks in the area and asked the officer to whom I was talking about how his bank is gearing up for illegal residents, clutching their newly minted New Haven identity cards, who may want to open savings and checking accounts.

He said his bank wouldn't accept them because "they aren't real." According to this person, whom I won't name because the bank official wasn't aware that his comment would be used in a story, every bank has a list of approved identification for doing business at the bank. The New Haven card isn't on it, he said.

He said he didn't know of any large bank that would accept them. I'm going to check this out and get back to you all with that.

Secondly, you all remember the sad incidents at East Haven cemeteries last spring.
I've heard that due to a local businessman and the local electric utility, lights and new signs are about to go up at the cemeteries. When I get all the details, I'll be thrilled to pass them on.

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Thomas Wolfe said "You can't go home again."

Ain't it the truth?

I had to transact some business in Moodus, a section of the pretty Connecticut River town of East Haddam today (July 26, 2007), so it gave me a chance to visit my first real post-marriage home.

A couple of years after my wife and I wed, we moved to a family cottage in Moodus, where we lived for the better part of seven years, had our first two children and became adults.

Our place was an A-frame on a country lane in a private beach association, less than a five-minute walk from a lovely lake. The house had a porch fully a third the length of the house, a fully glass front, dark brown wooden sides, small windows and a crawl basement. Because of well and septic tank requirements, the house clung to the left-hand quarter of the lot, which comprised a block across which any six- year-old could throw a ball.

I was a couple of miles away, so I had to drive over and see what had become of the house my late father and I helped build and my wife and I finished. There were many great memories, such as the laying of the rubber pipe hundreds of feet down a hole less than six inches across, helped only by a plumber who had had a few too many. I don't think I've laughed as hard since.

We lived in bucolic splendor, with one child coming less than two years after we moved in and the second three years later. We learned many lessons, most from Steven and Ann Sulavik, our neighbors across the street, both of whom have long since died. They were decades older than us, but full of solutions to problems such as water in the crawl space, how to grow a garden in a shaded lot and how to catch dinner in the lake with a fishing pole and 30-minutes time.

I mention their names only because Steve was a caretaker at Yale for many years and some may remember him.

Today, most of those memories receeded. The ramshackle houses of this summer colony have been replaced by real homes, many quite large. The lumber yard where one could take what one needed on weekends when it was closed and settle up Monday was replaced by a fuel-oil dealership. The pharmacy and pizza place in Moodus center are still there, but McMansions have replaced many of the humble dwellings along the country roads.

I walked around the beach (I still own a small lot in the association, so it was even legal for me to park by the beach) and over to the boat launch area.

There if found John boat (a square bowed rowboat) that looked just like the one I left nearly 29 years ago. But the families seemed much more affluent than the factory workers and other lower-middle class people who scrimped and saved to buy or build their summer places. New and newer cars and trucks inhabited the driveways where older cars and out-and-out wrecks had haunched down before.

My old house looked happy. The side door had been moved and the porch screened in, playgear populated the lawn (something I was never able to get to grow), so the house still sheltered a growing family.

But I was sad as I left. There were some for-sale signs on lots and affluent houses in the area.

I didn't take any of it down. Like Wolfe, I know you can't go home again. But unlike Wolfe, I know that home really is where the heart is, and for me, that was transferred to New Haven many years ago.

Until next time...

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Causeless hatred in the streets

Yesterday was a fast day for observant Jews, not a good day to try to think about how to spell words or make sense.

There was a group or two of people yesterday who didn't make sense and they didn't even have the excuse of lack of food or water.

I hate to preach, but the day Jews marked yesterday, the ninth day of the month of Av, was a day in which many bad things happened throughout history. The cause, according to scholars, was causeless hatred among Jews.

I'm sure Christians have the same type of teaching. Jesus preached love for your neighbor, and I'm sure Buddhists and Muslims and Hindus and Taoists and Shintoists and every other organized religion have the same teaching.

So what were groups of people, including the John Birch Society for cryin' out loud (I thought they crawled back under their Commie-littered ashtrays years ago), hooting and hollering because people wanted to get city identifications to allow them to open bank accounts.

The faithful readers of this blog know I'm not all for the ID cards.
I think the whole idea is a screw-up waiting to happen. What happens if some park employee or librarian refuses to serve a New Haven resident who decided not to purchase the identification because he or she already has enough government-issued ID?

What happens the first time some boneheaded store clerk or city employee messes up and exposes someone to identity theft due to the debit-card provision? And please tell the folks at City Hall this: You don't want to make this card mandatory.

But that's not the reason so many are against the cards. It's due to causeless hatred -- according to them, these people are here illegally and they should not be given any services.

I don't know this for a fact, but odds are someone in my extended family died because he or she could not enter some country during World War II due to causeless hatred for Jews. There's the St. Louis incident, in which the U.S. refused to accept a ship full of Jewish refugees, many of whom ultimately returned to Germany and ended up in the ovens.

That's why I am for allowing this card to be given to folks so they can have an identification card with which to start bank accounts and can have a card to show cops if they are stopped. I think that also helps the cops, who seem lately to need all the help they can get.

The best way to halt poverty is education, so a library card is the best thing to give out. Let these folks learn about our customs and learn our language. Some of the older folks may not want to do that, but I'll bet the ranch the kids want to learn English and learn how to be a "real" American.

On another subject, let's get off Paul Bass' back.

I've said times without number: If it quacks like a duck and walks like a duck, it's a duck."

Paul Bass has never, never quacked and walked like an objective reporter.

I've known Paul since he walked into the New Haven Journal-Courier newsroom as an intern many grey hairs ago. Even then, he never got it that his opinions had no place in a daily, mainstream newspaper.

So Paul, being the smart guy that he is, went to find a place where he didn't have to be objective. He found it at the New Haven Advocate, then at the print Independent, then again at the Advocate when the owner closed the print Independent.

Now he's running the nonprofit that publishes the Independent and has never pretended to be an objective chronicler of events.

That doesn't mean he doesn't get, or at least try as hard as he can to get, all sides of a story. He does that and does it well. He just finds way of letting you know how he feels. He's always done that.

So, let's get off the soap box, folks.

Speaking of the soap box, it looks like the Taurus Cafe business isn't going away so fast.

For previous remarks, please see:

We'll discuss as this goes along, or sooner if someone wants to start the discussion in the comment section of this blog.

Until next time...

Monday, July 23, 2007

Another ending; perhaps a beginning

Happy Monday, even if it's a rainy, windy one.

I was saddened, although hardly surprised, to read that Tweed-New Haven Airport is down, again, to one airline, going to one place.

The latest casualty, Pan Am Clipper Connection, flew 19-passenger puddle-jumpers from New Haven to such garden spots as Trenton, N.J., and Elmira, N.Y. It got close to Washington, D.C. at BWI (Baltimore-Washington International) Airport, about a 40-minute train ride from the district, but Larry DeNardis, the former congressman and college president who now heads the airport authority, said that wasn't good enough. But the airline pulled out because there wasn't enough business going to Trenton and Bedford, Mass.

What we're doing here in New Haven is making the airport a self-fulfilling prophecy of not being worth the subsidy that the city pays to run it. That's like the youngster who kills his parents and then asks for mercy because he's an orphan.

People bought houses near the airport because they cost less than in other place in town and then were shocked, shocked you hear, to learn that there are airplanes taking off and landing.

According to them, it's bad enough to have privately owned single-engine and small twin-engine airplanes operating out of Tweed. We just can't have (gasp) jets that go to places like Chicago (we did once but managed to kill that, too) and Florida and Charlotte, N.C. and Pittsburgh.

H. Richter Elser, the latest Republican sacrificial lamb to run for mayor, says we need aim Tweed flights toward Martha's Vineyard and Cape Cod, not toward Atlanta.

Mr. Elser, you are dead wrong. We need to aim the flights where people want to go. A regional jet is quiet, can safely operate from Tweed and can reach the airline hubs or go nonstop to places like Florida.

Those who read this post regularly (bless you) read about my recent trip to Florida.

We flew out of Westchester County Airport nonstop on Air Tran to Orlando. It's a great flight on new airplanes (Boeing 717-the latest grandson of the DC-9). The only problem is that Westchester charges $21 a day for parking.

We need air routes, Mr. DeNardis, that go somewhere people want to go. Actions have consequences. People who buy houses near airports have to be willing to put up with a little noise. That doesn't mean we don't work as hard as possible to make the place safe, but we don't work to kill relationships with airlines that go to places to which people want to travel and then say the airport isn't worth the subsidy.

Page 2

Speaking of subsidy, the city will proudly roll out its identification card Tuesday (July 24, 2007) in a 9 a.m. ceremony. This card will allow every resident, for a fee, to have a city-issued identification to allow them to open bank accounts.

I say subsidy because although some charity that the city never dealt with before is paying a quarter of a million dollars to run the program for the first year, it hasn't committed to run it for the second or third or fourth year. Sounds familiar for New Haven, doesn't it?

Well, the city hasn't done its homework.

Of all the days to roll out this new venture, it picks Tuesday, which just happens to be the blackest day of the year on the Jewish calendar.

It's Tisha B'Av, the ninth day of the month of Av. On this day in history, the first Jewish Temple was destroyed, the second Jewish Temple was destroyed, the Jews were kicked out of Spain, World War I started, which led to World War II and the Holocaust, and lots more.

One thing you don't do on Tisha B'Av, besides eat and drink and hold any kind of celebration, is start any ventures. You don't do any business deals, although one is not forbidden to work as one is on the Sabbath and Yom Kippur, the other 25-hour fast.

So, good luck to the city on its new venture. I just wish they would have picked a better day to start it.

Until next time...

Friday, July 20, 2007

Kudos to Channel 3, not the Red Sox

Wethr: That's the worst spell of weather I've seen in a long time.

OK, OK, don't shoot. It's in a way of apology for failing to write yesterday. It's complicated and you don't care anyway. Just sorry about that for the loyal readers. Actually, this post has readers in about 20 states and four foreign nations.

We've also been picked up by Web sites and blogs from one about airport parking to a William Shatner Web site to a music buzz site. It's nice to know one isn't howling into the wind unheard.

Page 2

Kudos to WFSB Channel 3, the CBS affiliate in Hartford, Conn. When severe thunderstorms with indications that they could be spawning tornadoes struck Connecticut yesterday afternoon (July 19, 2007), Channel 3 stayed on the air with detailed weather reports for more than two hours.

The reports included close-in reports on what appeared to be possible tornado activity in western Connecticut and followed the severe storm as it approached and passed through the Hartford area.

I'm a weather freak anyway, so this was Must See TV for me. It also allowed me to call my wife in Hartford and get her out of harm's way by leaving work early. She was well south of the storm's fury when it hit Hartford.

Of course, nothing is perfect. The National Weather Service today determined that the storm did not spawn a tornado anywhere in Connecticut, despite reports by police that a funnel cloud was spotted on the ground.

Also, some idiot sent in a photo of a tornado and said the photo was taken yesterday in Connecticut. In hindsight, which is always 20/20, editors should have picked up on the fact that the weather reporters were talking about rain-shielded tornadoes and the picture had the tornado in the clear, coming out of what seemed to be a blue sky.

But that type of analysis is impossible when you up to your neck in alligators and the weather reporters did catch it before the special was over. The fact that they kept patting themselves on the back should take nothing away from their work. Kudos to the reporters and to the bean counters who let them stay on the air with few commercial breaks, losing ad revenue that shows like Oprah bring to the station. Good job, guys.

Page 3

What's going on with the Boston Red Sox? Yes, they're still 7 games in front of the New York Yankees, but no longer have the best record in baseball. They're below .600. They were beaten by the pathetic Kansas City Royals two games and now by the Chicago White Sox two games.

Daisuke Matsuzaka pitched six innings of good baseball, holding the White Sox to one run and two hits. He suddenly could not find the plate, walking two guys, then a third hitter.

Manny Delcarmen was warming up, or rather drinking water, in the bullpen when this was going on. Manager Terry Francona sat there and didn't replace Matsuzaka until the obviously tired pitcher had given up a single and two runs.

Skip to the last of the ninth inning. There's a guy on first and Dustin Pedroia is up. David Ortiz is next. There are two outs. The White Sox pitcher has problems finding the plate. I think it was three balls and one strike. Does Pedroia stand there taking, with the odds that the next pitch would be a ball? (it was)

Those were good odds, since the ump's strike zone was really small. No, he swings, pops up, and good-bye Charlie. Did anyone tell him to swing, or was that his inexperience? I just hope it was the latter, but we really need some hitting.

I worked in corporations for many, many years and I know that bosses have to make the kind of two-for-one deals that brought J.D. Drew to the Red Sox -- they had to take him to get Matsuzaka. But we really need a right-fielder who can field and hit. Drew certainly isn't it and neither is Wily Mo Pena.

Page 4

Another week comes to an end, the first full week of life for granddaughter Elianna and the week of grandson Rafi's birthday.
You know, it really doesn't get any better than that.
Have a great weekend and for those in the Tribe, a great Shabbos.

Until next time...

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Consequences for Gazans and Iraqis

It seems that President Bush may be right on one thing about the Middle East: Palestinians and Iraqis may have something in common.

Oh, it's not the cause-and-effect that he thinks an Israeli-Palestinian peace will have on Iraq. There won't be any real effect except to take away one excuse from the so-called moderate Arab states for not solving their sectarian disputes.

What they have in common is the lack of reality, the lack of sense and most of all the lack of insight that actions have consequences.

Tom Friedman, the Pulitzer-prize winning reporter and columnist of the New York Times, has finally had enough. The man who earlier in his career had been an apoligist for Arabs, now is struck by the stupidity of the Iraqi parliament. These are the guys we put into power and the guys our troops are dying every day to protect.

Remember the 300 Spartans? I don't mean the dumb movies, but the actual rear-guard action by the bodyguard of King Leonidas of Sparta, which bottled up the mountain pass at Thermopylae in 480 BCE. That allowed the Spartan-Athenian armies and navy time to mount a defense and beat the Persians under Xerxes I in the Battle of Salamis.

Now imagine this: A messenger makes his way back to Athens to tell the Athenian parliament about the battle. He mounts the Acropolis, and with his last bit of strength gets to the door, only to find a "Gone Fishin'" sign.

That's what our troops are doing in Iraq. While our soldiers and Marines are dying in their twos and threes and dozens, the Iraqi parliament has decided to go on vacation for the month of August.

And what does Bush, that incredible idiot, say to that? Well, you know, it's really hot in Baghdad in August.

As Friedman said in his column today (July 18, 2007), maybe its time to buy these American soldiers a ticket home.

Actions have consequences. If Iraqis want to take a vacation from their air-conditioned parliament building while American troops are dying in their streets to protect them and give them a chance to build a state in which to live, maybe it's time they did some of the heavy lifting.

At the same time, some fool at the United Nations has said that the Gazan economy will collapse if the Hamas is not allowed to open the main Karni crossing between Gaza and Israel proper.

The U.N. genius didn't say anything about why the crossing is closed: that the terrorists in Hamas rode into town with guns blazing and tossed out the legitimate Palestinian soldiers and bureaucrats who were running the crossing.

The U.N. didn't say how quickly they high-tailed it when the Hamas shot up Gaza, leaving the Gazans they now are so interested in protecting in the lurch. They also don't say anything about the fact that the Israelis left Gaza, left the Palestinians in charge, Palestinians who did so good a job of running Gaza that 1.1 million of the 1.5 million residents are on U.N. aid.

Dear Gazans: Sorry about that, but you voted Hamas in after that idiot Bush pushed for elections long before you were ready to have them. But still, after the elections, when you saw Hamas was not going to be any better than the former Fatah government, you did nothing. You cheered when Hamas set off rockets to kill innocent civilians in Israeli towns. You cheered Hamas.

Actions have consequences. Deal with it.

Until next time...

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Imus may be back; Arab summit may not

Well, there is justice out there in showbiz land after all.

According to Radar via the daily newsfeed at, Don Imus is due back on WFAN in New York in September and Al Sharpton is OK with it.

Radar takes its clue from a radio broadcast over the weekend in which Imus pal Bo Dietl all but said the I-Man will be back, but details are a little sketchy. It's also unclear which of his staff, including Barnyard McJerk, who led Imus down the path to his firing, would be back if Imus returns to his gig.

The Radar piece also has a list of the Imus regulars who would return to the show as guests, another list of those who would not and yet a third of fence-sitters.

When the incident in which Imus made an ugly, wrong, racist and sexist remark about the Rutgers University women's basketball team, which had just lost a national championship, this post said Imus should be punished, but not so severely.

I still say the punishment was too much for the crime and apparently even Sharpton agrees, when he said he wanted Imus to be punished, but not lose his job for good.

I just hope J. Donald Imus has learned to think about what he's saying and that no matter how many stooges you have around you, it's still your deal if you are the boss.

Page 2

Just in time to take some of the heat away from the Iraq mess, there is a new white paper that says the guys who bombed Ground Zero still have it in for the U.S. and are again planning to attack us.

My only question is: When did they stop? This is just another transparent try by the Bushies to focus attention away from Congress as it tries to find something it can do to keep this snowball from rolling all the way down hill.

Page 3

Speaking of trying to push that rock uphill, Bush has now decided to convene a Mideast summit like Madrid and has invited the heads of the so-called moderate Arab states to show up.

Moderate Arab states are those who don't throw bombs at Israelis themselves, but pay others to do it for them.

Dennis Ross, the former Mideast negotiator for the first President Bush and the first President Clinton, said last night (July 16, 2007) on Charlie Rose's PBS show that our president was just a year or two late in this move. The time to convene such a meeting was when Abu Mazen, the Palestinian leader, took over after Yasser Arafat finally died.

Ross also said that despite what Bush and Stooge of State Condoleezza Rice say, peace between Palestinians and Israelis was not a panacea for general Mideast tranquility and certainly not for Iraq.

He also said Bush's Mideast policies have so weakened the U.S. standing in the region and indeed in the whole world that Arab leaders could tell Bush to put his conference where the sun doesn't shine, something they would have never dared to do under presidents from Teddy Roosevelt through the first Clinton.

So now that our president has got us into a box, he's asking the Arabs to pleeeeeze show up at this summit and behave as Egypt and Jordan have done: Try to live with the Israelis. This is also an attempt to isolate the terror group Hamas, which because of Bush's meddling now has an election mandate under its belt and which now controls Gaza.

The one ray of light is that Bush has told the Arabs to stop pretending that Israel doesn't exist and start acting like responsible governments. That's really going to happen with a group of 14th century despots with 21st century weapons and money. Nothing was said about Syria's attendance.

Kudos to Ross, who stuck to his guns despite Charlie Rose's trying to push him into blaming Israel for all the problems in the Middle East. Good for you, Dennis. I have to go out and buy his latest book, "Statecraft: And How to Restore America's Standing in the World."

Page 4

New Haven, a place with no other problems, is wrestling with whether to ban plastic bags in supermarkets and pharmacies. Forget it. People don't want their frozen foods melting through the cheap paper bags you get in most markets (Trader Joe's excepted), so they'll continue to agitate for plastic bags.

Instead of making this a big political thing, why not just bring the plastic bags back to the store on the next trip, put them into the containers the stores will have set up (Stop&Shop already has them and others may as well). Stop&Shop already said it recycles the bags. Let the stores handle the bags.

After the city solves the crime problem, can educate all its children, can feed, clothe and house all its residents without impoverishing and driving out those who are paying for all this, then worry about plastic bags, for cryin' out loud.

Until next time....

Monday, July 16, 2007

And the children shall lead them...

Happy Monday.

Yes, that's supposed to be an oxymoron -- two mutually exclusive terms. But, as the headline implies, this is about children and leadership, something that some say also is an oxymoron.

Children leading anything may be hard to fathom, especially around New Haven, where hundreds if not thousands of children are not prepared for school. Their parents, or in the case of many of them, their mother, is just now starting to think about preparing their children for learning and wants to know what the city and the school system are going to do about it.

We'll have to discuss that, but not now.

Learning can come anywhere. I learned a lot by watching children playing in or near the water in both rural and an urban settings.

As you know if you read this blog regularly, my wife and I became grandparents for the sixth time last week. We were visiting the new parents to do whatever we could to help.

As you also know if you have spent a lot of time with in close quarters with anyone close to you, no matter how much you love them, you need some time away. So my wife and I took a few hours off one day last week and went to a nearby beach.

It was a wonderful day, warm, sunny, a little breeze blowing and just enough clouds to make the sky heavenlike.

Both my wife and I are writers and we soon started to look around at the scene.

Two things quickly became apparent. First, nothing is as it seems.

Here is this wonderful lake out in the country with a number of houses along one shore. One resident had brought out a book and was sitting on his deck overlooking this lake and reading. We both had the same thought: Wouldn't it be great to own one of those houses?

Just then, a loud train whistle interrupted our reverie and an Amtrak passenger train whooshed by, not a truck's length from the houses' front doors. Pop! went that illusion.

At the same time, we were watching the children, swimming, building in the sand and getting along nicely. The bigger ones were watching out for the smaller kids and everyone was getting along famously.

My thoughts drifted back to Memorial Day weekend at Lighthouse Point Park in New Haven. It was warm but too raw a day for swimming in Long Island Sound, but the wonderful water park was operating.

I noticed the same thing -- the bigger kids, some teens and others on the cusp, were playing around, rough-housing as kids do. But when a little kid came close, or when their play sent them near the little kids, the teens began to watch out for the little ones. They made sure the little ones weren't hurt by their play or even by the little ones' own actions.

This is a far cry from the mental image of teens on bicycles wilding around cars near downtown, beating and robbing the occupant. This is a far cry from others shooting at random, putting 9-year-olds in their own living rooms at risk.

What makes kids at the park solicitous of others' safety and the others apparently unconcerned? I wish I knew. But after seeing the city kids and the country kids both behaving in the best way to look after youngsters, it seems as if heredity has less to do with it than environment.

In both instances, the kids were white, African-American, South Asian, Hispanic and what have you. Their race never seems to matter.

I remember when my oldest child, the one who just gave birth, was in high school at The Sound School in New Haven, she was part of a rowing team that was the best in the region. Some of those rowers were blonde girls and others were tough-looking young men who seemed to be out of Central Casting for delinquent lookalikes.

These kids, however, were polite, dedicated, driven to succeed and on one cold day many years ago on Cape Ann, Mass., tought university teams that New Haven kids could outrow them even if they didn't have fancy uniforms and computer-designed boats.

It does seem that kids want to do the right thing. It's up to us as adults to make sure they know what the right thing is. That starts in the home, long before the child is ready for the first day of school.

Until next time...

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Back to business, New Haven style

After a day of being in babyland and another in the thrall and thrill of being with Elianna Yehudit and her sisters (and parents), it's back to business as usual.

There's plenty to talk about. The headlines are a hoot. "Singer critical after shooting himself," the headline says. I'd be pretty ticked off under those circumstances, too.

But seriously, folks, the news in New Haven is typical. Things don't change much, but it's good to see that our mayor is stuck with problems that began, or at least were made worse during a past administration with which he had a lot to do.

I'm talking, of course, about the late Biagio (Ben) DiLieto, whom Mayor John DeStefano served in at least one capacity.

The problems of which I speak are the Shartenberg site at Chapel and Orange streets and the Tweed-New Haven Airport.

The Shartenberg site has been a parking lot since Ben DiLieto gave it to Hartford developer David Chase as part of the deal that resulted in the renovation of City Hall and the building of the Connecticut Financial Center next door. The Chase building was built with a number of city tax incentives and the Shartenberg site given with the promise of a Chase building a parking garage there within two years. That was in the 1980s.

We're still waiting, but like his mentor, DeStefano seems to be willing to give incentives in order to get a downtown project whose need is in dispute, at the least.

The airport is another issue, and perhaps a more serious one.

At one time, Tweed was a going concern, with flights taking off for and landing from airports all over the East, if not the nation. Then people who had bought houses cheaper because they were near the airport started agitating for the airport to be used more sparingly.

Their champion was Ben DiLieto, and the East Shore was his political base. Under Ben's leadership, the neighbors hectored the airport to a point where only puddle-jumpers were used commercially and they only went to Newark, Philadelphia and near Washington, D.C.

There are now plans for a renaissance of the airport and they should be allowed to succeed.

New Haven Independent readers have chimed in on the subject, and only one of them made half a lick of sense. This person said the airport was important to the city's economic growth as much as downtown development. The others complained about the high cost of flying out of Tweed.
Well, duh -- if the airport were being used up to its potential, there wouldn't be the need for as much subsidy and the cost of flying out of Tweed would be less.

The airport deserves our support.

Page 2

We must pause for a moment to remember Lady Bird Johnson, the wife of Lyndon Johnson, the man who really got laws passed that led to whatever racial fairness we have today. She was not a person who took the limelight, but for her time, she worked for the greening of America, urging the planting of gardens and other greenery. She also had the good sense to keep her opinions to herself after her husband left office.

Some former presidents, such as Jimmy Carter, would do well to follow her example.

Until next time...

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Something new and wonderful -- again

I'm sorry about not having written anything yesterday (July 10, 2007) but I have a good excuse.

Actually, I have the best excuse. My eldest daughter gave birth to a healthy 7-pound, 10 ounce girl. My wife and I are grandparents for the sixth time. That's three kids from each of two daughters. Our youngest daughter is still in graduate school, so this might not be the end.

Great reason for not writing, isn't it?

So, because I'm so happy that my daughter and son-in-law (the one who knows about baseball) did such a marvelous thing, eveybody gets a break. No carping or complaining this time, not about important things, anyway. Nothing about how much Bush is messing up in Iraq and lying about why the Army can't find enough cannon fodder.

This post also will be mercifully short.

Page 2

There was some time to watch the All-Star baseball game last night. Home births have an advantage in that you don't have to spend time in the hospital (if all goes well, that is, but that's another subject). So my son-in-law and I shared a mixed Guinness Stout and Rolling Rock beer. Sounds awful, doesn't it...but it's really good.

The game was so stimulating I fell asleep before the National League got its two last runs.

The game was typical. A-Rod (Alex Rodrigues of the Yankees) had only one bone-head play, messing up what looked like an easy grounder to third. He seemed to be avoiding the chance. If you don't touch the ball, you don't risk an error. He played like a man who knew his team didn't stand a chance to make the post-season. Hmmmm.

On the other side, the Boston Red Sox aquitted themselves admirably, of course. Josh Beckett was the winning pitcher, Jon Papelbon pitched a scoreless inning and Mike Lowell, a nice guy and underappreciated player, had a run.

So, the American League gets the home-field advantage should there be a real contest in the World Series.

All's well at this end.

Until next time....

Monday, July 9, 2007

Bush to Senate: None of your business

I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend. I did, and one of the reasons why is deeper in this post.

But first, our president is at it again, although this one was expected.

This morning (July 9, 2007), W announced he is invoking executive privilege. It's to keep former counsel and failed Supreme Court pick Harriet Miers and political hack and former political adviser Sara Taylor from having to testify in front of the Senate committee investigating his attorney general fiasco.

Of course, they can speak to the committee off the record and not under oath, Bush said. Yeah, right. Like they'd tell the truth if not facing perjury sanctions.

This is all part of the dance meant to keep Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez in office and screwing up until Bush's term is up next year. That's when Bush will leave the mess he created in the USA and around the world to his lucky successor.

It'll also be the time he pardons I. Lewis (Scooter) Libby, the fall guy in the spy-outing scandal. And, by the way, note this in your future files: Will Scooter Libby ask for the return of the $250,400 he paid or someone else paid for him in fines for his federal conviction?

Page 2

One of the reasons I had a great weekend was that I celebrated a significant birthday for a wonderful guy.

Martin Glassner, Ph.D., turned 75 over the weekend and his family and friends gave him a significant bash at his Hamden home.

Marty has led a remarkable life. Born in New Jersey, he was an early ecologist, hiking in the woods, agitating for the environment and meeting and marrying Renee, a Holocaust survivor to whom he's been wed for 52 years.

After graduating from Syracuse, Marty served in the Army, then went to graduate school and because a Foreign Service officer for the State Department, serving in spots all over the globe.

After government service, Marty taught geography at Southern Connecticut State University, rising to department head. He has also served as a consultant to the United Nations on such things as water rights and the law of the sea and had a lot to do with the nitty-gritty on agreements between Israel and Jordan.

Marty and Renee have three children and close to a dozen grandchildren, as well as a great-grandchild. They still travel all over the world, from Nepal to South America to the Middle East. Marty has written many, many books, including recently editing "And Life Has Changed Forever: Holocaust Childhoods Remembered."

On top of all that, he's a great guy, serving on all kinds of board and committees and being an affable friend. Happy birthday, Marty.

Page 3

Paul Bass took some heat for his latest edition of From the Compost Heap, his weekly videoblog.
Some viewers took exception with his off-handish comments on the proliferation of flags on July 4, set against a mention of a New Haven soldier who was killed in Iraq.

Permit me to pile on.

I had a bit of a problem with that, too, but I know Paul and know he really is a true patriot.

My problem was with his off-handed comment about a person who was surrounded by youths on bicycles while driving on a major New Haven street. This person was beaten and robbed by the circling youths, who knew he wouldn't use the car as a battering ram to escape because he didn't want to kill anyone.

Bass said he tried to get an answer from the police chief, who left the meeting where the question came up, and the underling whom Bass asked about this said each incident is different.

Then Bass tossed it off, saying he didn't know the answer.

He then talked about a kid who was shot while sitting and watching television at home.

I'm not trying to equate the two. It's 20 kinds of wrong that a kid shouldn't be safe in her home. Thankfully, the kid's OK.

But it's also wrong that a person shouldn't be able to drive on a street without being accosted by kids on bikes. Neither should be tossed off with a shrug.

The taxpayers and other citizens of New Haven deserve the full-time attention of our police and top office-holders to our safety. That should be the top priority, above all else. If there isn't enough time and aren't enough people to keep the citizens safe and do identity cards or downtown development as well, then maybe the cards and the development need to wait. If we need help from the State Police, then we need to get it.

Until next time...

Friday, July 6, 2007

PC gets carried away

Friday is my day to do errands. Sabbath-observant Jews don't have Saturday to run errands -- it's a day of prayer and reflection. Those who observe Sabbath commandments don't work, ride in a car, use the telephone or write, among other things.

Tonight, they also don't get to watch fireworks. If the fireworks were postponed to Saturday night, then everyone would get to watch them. But I digress.

Because Friday is an errand day, I usually spend a lot of time in the car, going from one store to the other.

I was listening to National Public Radio. Some politically correct person -- happened to be a woman -- was interviewing former Attorney General Janet Reno. Reno helped organize and produce a set of CDs on American music called "Song of America". It's a recorded history of the U.S. in song and it's due out in Septemeber.

The music comprises folks songs and American songs, many with modern treatment. Paul Simon's son does "Yankee Doodle." It includes folk songs like "Sweet Betsy from Pike", such tunes as "How Ya Gonna Keep 'Em Down on the Farm After They've Seen Paris" and everything in between.

So, this politically correct interviewer asked Reno about the conversation the producers held on whether to include "Dixie." This is the marching song of the South in the Civil War. In the record's treatment, it sounds sad.

Reno made the proper short shrift of the question, saying that "Dixie" belongs in any history of the U.S. because it's a part of our history.

I wonder if this same questioner would ask the pope if he thought Latin was a proper language for prayer because Rome was one of the most brutal empires in human history.

Or maybe she should ask the Gruccis of Long Island, the famous fireworks artists, if they might be in the wrong business because fireworks were invented in China, which has been a repressive regime.

That question is dumb, just as the question about "Dixie" is dumb. Every nation has skeletons in its closet.

Slavery was a stain on American history, but it is as much a part of it as the Revolution or the industrialization.

Let's keep the dumb questions to a minimum, PC friends at National Public Radio.

Have a great weekend and those in the tribe, a good Shabbos.

Until next time...

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Nature wins on July 4

Mother Nature took home the prize for the best fireworks display on July 4, unless you live in New York City.

Just to let you know who's boss, the big mama sent in fog to the few Connecticut communities that ignored the weather yesterday, July 4, 2007, and still held fireworks displays.

In one community in the northern half of the state, a bystander told TV reporters that he was glad his town put on the display, but was a little disappointed he couldn't see anything because of the fog. Well, who wants to put down his or her town on television.

New Haven postponed the fireworks until Friday night and it looks as if they may have been right, as more rain is forecast later today.

My wife and I joined friends to see "Ratatouille" at the Showcase Cinemas in Orange, Conn. For those over 60, it's the bargain of the age -- $3.50 all day Wednesday at a theater that charges a general admission of $10 a pop.

The picture was just delightful. It's a story of a ne'er-do-well who works as a garbage boy in a famous Parisian restaurant and his friend, a rat, who is a gourmet chef.

Pixar and Walt Disney Studios have outdone themselves, in my eyes. I really didn't like Toy Story or Monsters, Inc., but this was just a joy. Get out to see it, if you can. It's rated G, but there's some noise and dark moments, so I'm not sure it's for the really little ones.

Page 2

Back on June 12, Murray Chass of The New York Times said he didn't see why the New York Yankees couldn't catch up with the Boston Red Sox by July 4 and be in first place by the All-Star break.

Well, Murray, the reason is that the Yankees don't have it this year. The Red Sox, despite a month where they couldn't hit a basketball with an oar, still sit about a dozen games ahead of the third-place Yankees because of their pitching.

It's also because of their heart. As I've said many times, Red Sox fans just don't give up. Few leave Fenway Park even if the Sox look like they're going to take a beating, unlike New York fans who head for the exits.

Case in point: Julio Lugo. This guy couldn't buy a hit, made mistake after mistake in the field as well as in running the bases. So, do the fans give up on the guy and start booing? Nah.

Earlier this week, Lugo got up with the bases loaded and made an out. The next day, he got up again with men on base. Did the fans boo? Heck, no, they cheered for him and this time, he hit a two-run single. And then they gave him a standing ovation.

I must admit that I had screamed at the television, asking why Tito (Red Sox Manager Terry Francona) doesn't send him to Pawtucket or Portland, both Red Sox minor league teams.

That was as much a mystery to me as much as why Tito has people swing at balls thrown by pitchers who couldn't find home plate with a map. But, as my son-in-law patiently explains, that's why I'm sitting at home screaming at the television and Tito is in the dugout eating seeds.

Page 3

I am so glad to read (New York Times Page 1 today) that somebody is delving into the true extent of air-travel delays.

Because the government and the airlines report delays of flights and not passengers, it's possible for a person to be delayed many hours or even days and the delay be reported as only a few minutes.

It works like this: The first leg of your flight is 45 minutes late. Because of this, you miss your connection and have to wait 12 hours for the next flight with an available seat going to your destination. The second flight is on time.

You've wasted half a day, but your flight is only listed as 45 minutes late. The lost hotel reservations and cruise connections, missed family events and lost business opportunities are never reported.

Now, a group of advocates and academics are trying to amend the reporting to trace a flyer's experience. If the same scenario takes place, the person would then be 13 hours late, not 45 minutes.

It's about time.

Page 4

I'm glad BBC reporter Alan Johnston was freed by his captors, a Gaza clan of thugs of whom even Hamas, the terrorist organization holding Gaza hostage, is sick and tired.

Hamas operatives kidnapped four members of the clan, also known as the Army of Islam, and said they would be held until the journalist was freed. That happened the next day.

Now, Hamas expects to be treated as heroes. Don't hold your breath.

My only question is why didn't Hamas do this 113 days ago and really show it is part of the solution, not the problem.

That's because if it walks like a terrorist and quacks like a terrorist, it's a terrorist.

I hope the folks at BBC learn their lesson about dealing with the likes of Hamas. But I don't hold out much hope. This is Britain, the home of the rolling boycott of Israel.

If it looks like fool and quacks like a fool...

Until next time....

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

The tale of Scooter and Jon

One of this blog's readers once said you'll never go broke betting against the logic of our president's actions.

So, as Dutch Reagan said, here he goes again.

George W. Bush, the hero of Iraq, decided Lewis (Scooter) Libby, the convicted liar whom many have called a traitor to this nation, shouldn't have to go to jail like a common criminal.

So, instead of having the guts to pardon the former Washington insider outright, he just squashes Libby's jail sentence. That keeps Libby as a convicted felon, which means he'll probably lose his law license. Libby will have to pay $250,000 in fines.

The odds-on betting is that Bush will pardon Scooter outright at the end of the president's term late next year.

Talk about playing to your audience.

The decision makes nobody happy, except David Brooks of the New York Times. The neocons and right-wingers of all religious stripes say Libby should have gone free. Liberals and centrists say the decision flies in the fact of us all being equal under the law.

And just before July 4 to boot, although the founding fathers would have laughed about women, slaves, Jews, Catholics and anybody who didn't own property being equal under the law.

Just to make it perfect, Bush now says he's not ruling out pardoning Libby later.

This was all done because Bush said Libby's sentence was excessive.

There is a man whose sentence really is excessive who has been languishing in federal prisons for more than 20 years. His name in Jonathan Pollard.

While Libby lied when he said he didn't out an undercover CIA operative who just happened to be the wife of a Bush enemy, Pollard, pictured at left, pleaded guilty to spying for Israel. He wasn't spying for Russia or China or Vietnam or even Iran. He was spying for Israel, one of the nation's most ardent friends in the world.

Pollard came clean about what he did. He pleaded guilty in a deal that was supposed to mean a reasonable sentence. The trial judge, however, threw the book at Pollard -- life without parole.

Pollard has been a Jewish cause since the 1986 travesty. The first President Bush was supposed to pardon him at the end of his term, but because of supposedly damning information brought up by Casper (Cap the Knife) Weinberger, the former defense secretary, he stayed in jail.

President Clinton was supposed to pardon Pollard as part of a Middle East peace deal. No dice.

George W. Bush, whose pardoning skills are now honed to a razor point, has been talking about pardoning Pollard, or at least springing him from jail. So far, nothing.

It's time to let this guy out.

To everyone who made it this far, have a wonderful Independence Day.

Until next time...

Monday, July 2, 2007

Thanks to Paul and to you, readers

Quite a few people have spent time reading about Sam Dimenstein, a friend who died last week. Some of you were introduced to Sam through the New Haven Independent's key to my piece on Sam Wednesday, June 27. If you haven't read it, please go down to that posting. It's worth the time.

Thanks to all who stopped to spend a few minutes finding out about a good man and the community he loved so much. Thanks, as well, to Paul Bass, the editor and publisher of the Independent, for featuring Sam on his main page.

Page 2

If you are a New Haven homeowner, first of all, you are a minority in the city. According to people who should know, the majority of New Haven residents are renters, while only around 35 percent of New Haven homes are owner-occupied.

Second of all, you know your assessment has gone up and probably your taxes. Your taxes may have gone up a lot. You are anxious to find out.

About half of the homeowners in the city already know their fate. Others do not.

I found this out because last week, it suddenly occurred to me that I hadn't gotten by home tax bill. I'd gotten the bill on my car taxes, including one for a car I no longer owned (my fault), but no house tax bill.

So I called the tax office and was told that only about half the tax bills were mailed out in early and mid-June. The others were mailed the last week in June. I should have gotten it by now, but if I don't get the bill by the middle of this week, call back and see about it. Bank on it.
Wouldn't it be fair for those of us who are in the last half of the mailing to get the same amount of time to pay our taxes as the others. If the taxes aren't paid by July 31, the city starts charging interest. The next day.

Wouldn't it be fair for those who didn't get their tax bills until later to have until the middle of August to pay their bills?

Page 3

The day after tomorrow is July 4, a day that should be celebrated, especially now that the nation is in such irons (that's a sailing term meaning unable to move because of certain wind actions).

So, I went on the Web to find out about any New Haven celebration, and soon found one scheduled at Long Wharf park along Long Wharf Drive. It starts at 6 p.m. and the fireworks start a bit after 9.

What wasn't apparent was where parking was available. I went to the city's Web site, followed the prompt to ...still nothing. I followed the parking prompt. I found out about valet parking, where to pay a ticket, where to buy a parking card. Nothing about parking for the July 4 festival, so I called. Three calls later, I found the information I sought.
Because you have read all the way down to here, you are rewarded by not having to go through all that.

Parking is available at the New Haven Register -- Gateway Community College lots. The entrance to both is at Long Wharf and Sergeant drives. Signs are supposed to be there to direct you to the parking lots. Parking is probably not going to be available at Ikea, a city worker said.

Have fun. See you there.

Page 4

Lots to talk about today.

I received an e-mail from a group called HonestReporting, an organization that wants to put some fairness back in the coverage of the Middle East.

They put together a short film about the residents of Sderot, the Israeli town unlucky enough to be close to Gaza and the recipient of hundreds of rocket attacks since Israel gave up that unhappy strip.

Here's the address:

Spend a minute or two watching this and some more time thinking about that. Thanks.

Back Page

Hats off to Mika Brezinski.

Brezinski, who worked years ago at WFSB Channel 3 in Hartford, now is an anchor as MSNBC
She has been shown shocking her co-anchors by first ripping up and then shredding the script of the network's fawning over Paris Hilton after that waste was released from jail.

Mika kept insisting the network, which wanted to lead that segment with a Hilton story, would not have any Paris Hilton coverage. She balled up one script, shredded another and kept saying no to the coverage.

Many thanks to Mika and people like her who want to put coverage of people like Hilton to the end of the news segment, if at all. That's where they belong.

We need more Mika Brezinskis and fewer Larry Kings in the news business these days, I say. Larry King had the first interview after Hilton was let out of the klink and tossed nothing but puffball questions.

Until next time....