The contemporary American’s dilemma last week: Deciding what is true or false, real or fake, and what to believe.

President Donald Trump, at a rally in Wilkes Barre, Pa., told the nation last week that what they read in the American press is “fake, fake disgusting news”  – or at least that’s what the media reported.

Should citizens believe Trump, who Thursday again called the Russia investigation “a hoax,” or his own national security administrators who said Russia continues to attempt to undermine American democracy?

In announcing a rollback of auto emissions and fuel efficiency standards – a move that state officials say would have pronounced negative effects in states like Connecticut and California — the federal administration said its action is based in part on the belief that less efficient cars will prompt people to drive less, resulting in fewer accidents.

The Trump administration does not believe that abortion should be considered a form of family planning, so it has proposed to stop providing Title X funds to any agency that includes abortion as part of its family planning services.  Attorneys general from 13 states, including Connecticut, have said the proposal is unconstitutional and would, in Gov. Dannel Malloy’s words, be “disastrous for the millions of women who will lose access to contraceptive services, cancer screenings, and other basic health necessities.”

Susan Hatfield accepting the GOP endorsement for attorney general.

Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen, at least one Republican candidate for his office, and a federal judge in Seattle all seemed to agree that releasing the downloadable plans for a 3D-printed plastic gun (undetectable by a metal detector) would be a bad idea. Earlier in the week, after a Trump administration settlement allowing the downloads was made public, several Democrats condemned the administration’s decision, among them gubernatorial contender Ned Lamont.

Susan Hatfield, the Republicans’ endorsed candidate for state attorney general, said her belief that 3-D printed firearms “will make our community less safe and put law-enforcement officers in harm’s way” cost her the support of the state’s largest gun owners’ group.

(Speaking of law-enforcement officers, as part of an annual crackdown, they began putting extra emphasis last week on enforcing Connecticut’s laws against distracted driving – particularly when using a hand-held mobile phone.)

From left, a 3D printer, Democrats Shawn Wooden, Ned Lamont and William Tong.

Connecticut gun-control advocates, meanwhile, worry that the proposed appointment of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court would scuttle Connecticut’s strictest gun regulations along with dozens of new guns laws across the nation approved since the mass shooting in Parkland, Fla., earlier this year.

Elsewhere in Connecticut, with primary elections fast approaching, several of the five Republican candidates running for governor said they have trouble believing fellow candidates Mark Boughton and Bob Stefanowski when they claim, with few details, that they can phase out the state income tax – which funds half the state budget — in eight to 10 years.

Challenged by his competitors about his party loyalty, Stefanowski wants voters to believe he ended his brief stint as a Democrat when “I quickly realized that my economic policy, my stand on the social issues is not going to go through on the Democratic side of this ticket.”

Meanwhile, Boughton said he believed the solution to paying for some 30,000 crumbling foundations throughout northern Connecticut should fall to the state’s insurance companies – something the legislature proposed and failed to accomplish earlier this year.

In the primary races for lieutenant governor, Republicans must decide whether they believe State Sen. Joe Markley, New Britain Mayor Erin Stewart or Darien First Selectman Jayme Stevenson would make the best opponent for Democrats Susan Bysiewicz or Eva Bermudez Zimmerman. In a debate Thursday, the Dems tried to convince voters that their qualifications are most appropriate for Connecticut’s future.

No candidate on either side of the aisle has said how he or she feels about increasing spending on the University of Connecticut’s Next Generation sci-tech initiative – something the UConn Board of Trustees says it must do to maintain the university’s development into an elite research institution.

Selectwoman Melissa Schlag kneeling during the Pledge of Allegiance. Alyssa Hurlbut /

There is, however, strong disagreement in Haddam and elsewhere as to whether Selectwoman Melissa Schlag is a patriot or an unpatriotic provocateur for taking a knee during the Pledge of Allegiance.

Consumers, apparently, are choosing to believe that the state’s economy is headed in the right direction, but it was hard for some state officials to know what the situation is regarding health care for inmates of Connecticut’s prisons, given the paucity of specifics from some of those testifying at a six-hour hearing last Monday.

Paul has more than 40 years of reporting and editing experience at newspapers in New Jersey, Florida and Connecticut. He worked 22 years at the Hartford Courant in various editing roles including as deputy state editor, assistant editor of Northeast Magazine, and as an associate editor at He earned his bachelor’s degree from Rutgers University. A trained chef, he and his wife own and operate a bed and breakfast in an historic home in Mansfield.

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