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A lesson in local governance on Independence Day

Although the Declaration of Independence depicted him as a despot, the real conflict between England and her American colonies was not between King George III and Democracy but between the rights of the British people represented as they were by their own Parliament, and the rights of the American colonists represented as they were by their own colonial assemblies. In this conflict no one was a greater supporter of the rights and authority of the British Parliament than the King.

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Our differences are killing us — in spirit

How ironic that we vilify black men and Muslims for their violent tendencies, when between 54 and 63 percent of the mass shootings in the U.S. since 1982 have been committed by white men.  White men make up the majority of males in our country.  Some might say statistically that makes sense.  Some might say white men are the enemy. I say let’s stop exclaiming that all people who share the same ethnicity, race, sexual orientation, and religious beliefs are the same.  They are not, any more than all white men are the same.

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It is not more guards we need. It is more understanding.

It is shocking that our nation has just experienced the worst anti-semitic attack in our history. One would hope that by this point in time our nation would be so much better than this. Clearly, that is not the case. The Connecticut Council for Interreligious Understanding calls upon every leader and every person to face up to the meaning of the events in Pittsburgh. The murders at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh make it clear that our country is awash in hatred and primed for violence. This is not the country we want or expect.

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Full circle

I was a post-war baby, raised in the 1950s in a racist, homophobic, anti-immigrant, sexually repressed, theocratic America. Civil rights for people of color and “queers” were non-existent. Women’s rights were virtually unknown and women’s liberation was widely regarded as a plot to destroy the American family. Legal abortion was more than a decade away and even providing contraceptives to married couples was illegal until 1965 when, in the Griswold v. Connecticut decision, the U.S. Supreme Court declared this prohibition an unconstitutional invasion of privacy.

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On improving youth voter turnout: It starts with us.

Democracy functions best when all citizens lend their voice with their vote. Regardless of ideology, affiliation, or age, we better ourselves when all voices are heard. Other countries enjoy consistently high turnout rates (Norway, Sweden, and Belgium hover around 80 percent), incentivizing elected officials to represent all of their constituents. Here, turnout barely reaches 60 percent, and we need to do better.

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Trump’s instant injury to the Puerto Rican soul

I would like to stay calm but I can’t. I can stay silent, but I must not. In light of the predicted devastation that Hurricane Florence may bring to the Carolinas, President Donald Trump’s fingers have once again taken a life of their own on Twiyter.  He has attempted to create an alternative reality.  People who do not know the facts about Hurricane María and Puerto Rico may be ready to accept them.
I won´t.  He is a demagogue.

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Criticisms of the kneeling protest are ‘hollow, self-serving, gratuitous’

The continuous unfolding news accounts of Haddam Selectwoman Melissa Schlag and her exercise of free speech rights by taking a knee on July 16 and kneeling on both knees at (the July 30) Monday’s Board of Selectmen fortnightly meetings have drawn the attention of the state and nation, with a mix of ire and support by local residents and veterans as her actions were vilified loudly by political campaigners for statewide office, and later with an additional pile on by other candidates.

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Editing genes with care and confidence

A pair of scientific papers published recently revealed that editing the genome with the popular molecular tool called CRISPR may cause cancer. CRISPR involves making precise ‘cuts’ in the genetic code, which some cells may perceive as damage with the potential to result in harmful mutations. In its defense, the cell may activate anti-cancer pathways to combat the perceived attack and cause the cell to die – rendering the CRISPR edit useless. The papers published this week demonstrated that certain cells are able to survive editing by CRISPR but lack a functional anti-cancer pathway, leaving them vulnerable.

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Summit with Kim is boosting Trump’s confidence – that might not be a good thing

Moments after President Donald Trump shook North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s hand for the first time, Trump pronounced: “We will have a terrific relationship.” Trump’s snap judgment fulfilled his prediction before the June 12 summit that he would be able to evaluate Kim’s intentions “within the first minute” of meeting him. High-level politicians often think that they are experts at reading and influencing other leaders. They quickly come to believe that they are the world’s leading authority on any counterpart they meet in person. For example, President George W. Bush was so enamored with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki that senior advisers launched a concerted campaign to curb his enthusiasm.

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On Memorial Day, reverence and sadness

On this Memorial Day, a Connecticut writer remembers his great uncle who, like millions of others, made the ultimate sacrifice against tyranny and oppression.

Captain William George Gabain, my great uncle, died 100 years ago in the Great War, now known as World War I. He was killed in action in northern France, as he was trying to make sure that all of his men had heard the order to withdraw in the face of an overwhelming German advance. He and several other soldiers in The Rifle Brigade of the British Expeditionary Force were last seen surrounded by enemy troops.

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President Trump, Make America great again by uniting Palestine and Israel

Reliably unpredictable and defiantly unconventional, our President Donald Trump is known as a wily negotiator of real estate and trade deals, a creative manipulator of immigration and election laws as well as grandstander on domestic and foreign policy—tax cuts for the wealthy, reneging on international agreements and treaties (Paris Climate Accord, Iran Nuclear Deal). But now he’s outdone himself. He’s keeping his promise to make America great again by taking the first step to make Palestine/Israel one country again.

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A compassionate solution to the immigration problem

The immigrants gathered at the border waiting to get into the United States face an uphill battle.  They claim that they  are subjected to brutality by gangs and cannot live in that environment any longer.  Others claim that there is no credible proof (more than hearsay) that these conditions exist.  We also don’t know who, among these people are actually fleeing legitimate oppression and danger, those who want to gain access to America for the purpose of simply creating a better life for themselves, or, how many wish to gain access for illegal purposes.  Regardless of which camp they may fall into, here they are, and we’re a compassionate country. This proposal is simple, and, it can eliminate the need for a border wall.

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The goal in Korea should be peace and trade – not unification

Last week, the world witnessed a first tangible step toward a peaceful, prosperous Korean peninsula. On April 27, 2018, Kim Jong Un became the first North Korean leader to step foot in South Korea – where he was welcomed by South Korean President Moon Jae-in. A few days later, the South Korean government reported that Kim had promised to give up his nuclear arsenal under certain conditions.

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A voting system in which the majority rules

In 48 states, the winner of the state’s popular vote is awarded all of its electoral votes. This is called winner-take-all. According to four lawsuits in four states (two red, two blue), winner-take-all is unconstitutional. It violates the doctrine of one person, one vote, the suits allege. It also disenfranchises everyone who voted for a losing presidential candidate. Plaintiffs want states to adapt what’s called proportional voting. That’s when a state’s electoral votes are awarded according to a candidate’s percentage of its popular vote. But if the plaintiffs prevail, they may not achieve what they say they will.