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If You Ask Me

‘Whatabouts’ in the age of Putin and Trump

During the Cold War, Russians often responded to criticism of some Soviet policy or another by asking about a questionable or heinous practice of the critic’s nation, whether real or imagined, new or ancient.

For example, an American reporter’s question about Soviet slave labor camps in Siberia would be answered by a bureaucrat asking, “What about Negroes being lynched in Alabama?”

North and South: Winsted’s Union statue has Confederate brothers-in-zinc

There’s a statue on the Winsted Green, in East End Park, of a Civil War soldier who looks exactly like statues of Union soldiers in dozens of other northern towns. He also looks exactly like statues of Confederate soldiers guarding the town squares and courthouses in dozens of southern towns.

President Trump’s worst week, except for most of the others

After six months of telling literally hundreds of lies, our president decided to become the fact-checker-in-chief, but that hasn’t worked out too well either.

Maybe, as President Trump insists to this day, there were “many very fine people” among the Charlottesville torchlight paraders chanting Nazi slogans like “blood and soil” (blut und boden) and “Jews will not replace us.” 

Congressmen financially unopposed

Seventeen years ago, this column offered congratulations to four of Connecticut’s six members of Congress for their “splendid victories” months before Election Day. This was possible because the four were financially unopposed by relative unknowns, and their reelection was certain. 

Should we use tax dollars to help this guy campaign?

Of the 20 or more candidates being mentioned in the open race for governor of Connecticut next year, it can be argued that one of the most experienced is the occasionally Hon. Joseph Ganim, the mayor of Bridgeport.

His experience has been, shall we say, mixed. He is running for governor for the second time, having unsuccessfully sought the Democratic nomination in 1994, during the second of what would be nearly six consecutive terms as mayor.

Trump right on Lincoln, wrong on the other 43

Donald Trump is right. He couldn’t be more presidential than the man who spoke of “malice toward none, charity for all” in a nation divided by civil war. But the 45th president humbly declares that, with the exception of Lincoln, he could be more presidential than all the rest.

He said it last week in one of his favorite venues — a campaign rally, this one before cheering true believers in Youngstown, Ohio. 

Nation’s most unpopular governors: Malloy, Christie, Brownback

During Dannel Malloy’s first term, when he was popular enough to run for and win a second and his neighboring governors to the south, Chris Christie of New Jersey and Andrew Cuomo of New York, were also riding high, this column jokingly referred to him as “the Tri-state area’s third most popular governor.”

How Donald Jr. is like, and not like, Mama Rose

The fascinating events of last week involving President Trump’s, son, son-in-law, then-campaign manager and various Russian operatives brings to mind Stephen Sondheim’s lyric from the 1959 Broadway musical, “Gypsy.”

“Have an Eggroll, Mr. Goldstone,” is sung to a gentleman caller interested in the talents of one of stage mother Rose’s children. Her enthusiasm for this Mr. Goldstone is not unlike the gratitude expressed to Rob Goldstone, the Kremlin messenger, by Donald Trump Jr. on being told he had dirt on Hillary Clinton.

Tired legislators vacation too soon

In the 50-odd years I have been writing about Connecticut’s legislature — and some of them have been odd, indeed — the lawmakers have habitually postponed action on the budget and other major issues until the final days, hours and, sometimes, minutes of the legislative session. 

On more than one occasion, with time running out, legislators literally turned back the chamber’s clock in order to remain in session.

The long war we don’t want to talk about

With the nation about to send a few thousand more troops to Afghanistan, the nearly 16-year-old war on terror there and elsewhere has become the longest in American history, surpassing a war nobody talks about and few know about. 

There are historical lists and accounts of America’s wars that cite this second-longest war, which began in 1898 and ended 15 years later, in 1913, as the Philippine-American War, but the official government list of American wars, published by the Veterans Administration, doesn’t mention it at all.