Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Interview with Alan Schlesinger

Genghis Conn and CGG coauthored this piece

U.S. Senate candidate Alan Schlesinger (R) has burst onto the political scene in a way that no one expected or thought possible just a few short weeks ago. His lively, funny and interesting performance at the recent senatorial debates has sparked a lot of interest in his once-moribund campaign, and the hope among Lamont supporters that a resurgent Schlesinger will be able to take enough votes away from Sen. Joe Lieberman to cost him a victory on November 7th.

CGG and I sat down with Schlesinger last Saturday over coffee in Middletown.

The Gambling Scandal

Here's what Schlesinger had to say about the gambling scandal that essentially knocked him out of the race for most of the election season:
Number one, I never broke a rule, regulation or law. When I was asked to get a wampum card it was for their marketing program only, there was no ID required whatsoever. If I wrote down 'please give me Daffy Duck', they would have brought back a card that said 'Daffy Duck'. It was a meaningless thing for a marketing program.

You do not have identification when you play in the casino, only if you want to be part of their marketing program. You can go up there today. Go and play, and if you just want to say no I don't want to be what they call rated you can play all day long under any name you want or no name. There is no law, there is no reg that says you have to.

The second issue that they brought up for me, which was a low ball hit by the Courant was two disputes I had with the casinos almost twenty years ago, about the fact that I'm a skilled player. That's why I, they were harassing me at those casinos. [...] They would reshuffle constantly, so I would lead. So when they did that to me it was embarassing me because everyone where I was playing said: 'why are you doing this?' So I said: "Oh yeah? See if I pay you back your marker!" I was in a dispute to show them that I was fighting back because I was very antagonistic to them violating the law. There was a lawsuit in Atlantic City that said you cannot discriminate against skilled players. So I wanted to show them that you cannot skirt the law by playing games like this.

So I made my stance. I was young, I was brash, and I was wanting to show them who I was. There never was any legal pleedings or anything. I never spoke to an attorney. I just had the dispute, I settled it, and by the way the numbers they put in the paper? Total fabrication. Those where what they were going to sue me for I guess in their company complaint when they threw in the kitchen sink with all this other stuff.

And there was never... they made it sound like I had gambling debts that I couldn't pay. It was a dispute between the casino and me about them saying they would treat me a certain way, and I said 'no you won't'. I was making a point, and I paid it.

Social Security

Schlesinger, first and foremost, wants to get Congress's fiscal house in order. “I’ve always prided myself on being responsible," he said. "I always felt that I was the fiscal conscience of the [state] legislature when I was there.” His major problem with the current system revolves around Social Security:
AS: As bad as the state legislature is, it’s a microcosm of congress, and they’re so out of touch with what is right and what we need to do, that it’s actually scary, especially For your generation, because you’re going to be left holding such a big bag that it’s going to be unsustainable. So something’s gotta give. Will it be: out generation--my generation working until they’re 90? That’s possible—but they haven’t been told that. Will it be that your generation is going to have to pay taxes that they never dreamt of, and it’s going to be so hard to make ends meet because of what they’re going to be oppressed with? And what’s so bad is that you won’t be benefiting from it. It’s truly a pyramid scheme, what has happened. … I really don’t care why, it is what it is. Lamont is stuck on the ‘why’. I’m stuck on ‘where do we go from here?’ which is where people are.

GC: Now when you say that Congress is out of touch, Congress is dominated by your party, by the Republican Party. Do you think the Republican leadership is out of touch?

AS: Yes. Yes! I am not going to be a real popular member of the caucus. I don’t care if I get re-elected. I want to send a message down to these guys in Washington that enough is enough. Cut the baloney. Start telling people the truth. And this is not something new to me. I was the most unpopular member of the caucus in Hartford—why do you think I have so much trouble with my party?

To hear Lieberman get up there and say again in this last debate [the debate that aired on Thursday, Oct 18th] ‘Social Security is all set, it’s all funded until 2040’... Now, either his staff is also drinking the kool-aid, or he’s being disingenuous, he’s being deceptive. He says we have a disagreement. You can disagree about policy. You can’t disagree with the facts.

First thing I want to do is what everyone thinks is being done already: immediately segregate FICA taxes, payroll taxes from the general fund.

Social Security can be taken care of. That’s the one I can take care of. If I go down to Wash and accomplish just that, put Social Security on a sound funding basis, I will have accomplished everything I wanted to do in my life. More, it’s a bonus. But if I can do just that one thing, I will be so happy for the people of America.
I want everyone is this state to know that what [Sen. Lieberman] said in the debates was an out-and-out lie. Period. […] when he said we’re all set till 2040, that was not true.

What they do is they take every dime that comes in on Social Security, FICA taxes, they pay the current recipients, a pay as you go system, then there’s a nice surplus. This year it’s running at $170 billion. They put it and offset part of the deficit of the general fund. […] Then, they take out a pad of paper and they write it down as if it’s still there.
The problem is—this pad of paper is what Joe Lieberman is telling you we can rely on to pay checks through 2040. Can anyone explain how we get money out of a pad of paper with numbers on it and no cash? How do you spend money and say it’s still there?”

Schlesinger wants to separate FICA from the general fund, then put the surplus from FICA into a “mortgage pool” and have it earn interest, while keeping mortgage rates low. This money would go back into the Social Security trust fund, meaning, he said, “...you have the Social Security trust fund invested in the people of the U.S.”

National Security and Immigration

We asked Schlesinger about the balance between liberty and security. He believes that we have, in the past, gone too far in the direction of security, to liberty's detriment (he cited the Japanese internment camps as an example).
AS: I have to believe that if we have to err we have to err on the side of safety. Now, some people’s rights are going to be trampled on. They always are, this is not a perfect world. […] And I have grave concerns about what the Congress just passed about giving the insurgent camps unlimited control over their prisoners.

GC: Would you have voted for it?

AS: I probably would have voted for it only if it contained a sunset provision so that it would be revisited every two years. I’d also make sure there was habeas corpus available for military tribunals.

Schlesinger also favors a much stricter policy towards illegal immigration, and advocates the construction of a wall on the border. He also proposes a seasonal work visa program, which will have no road to citizenship and no road to permanent residency. "They get in line with everyone else," Schlesinger said. However, he hopes his plan will encourage workers to use this program to come to the United States legally--and then go home again. “What I’m trying to accomplish here is telling these workers, there’s no need to slip over the fence.” He also wants workers to be proficient in English in five years, and to concentrate enforcement efforts on employers.

Switching to Schlesinger: Courting the "What the Hell?" Vote

Alan Schlesinger believes the race is still winnable, and is skeptical of the poll numbers. "We're not at 8%. I don't know who they're polling but they must be polling illegal immigrints waiting in line for Joe Lieberman's amnesty." He also cites ballot placement as a factor in his favor. "Remember where I am on that ballot, next to Jodi Rell. Lieberman's on row six or seven."

Schlesinger is counting on a last minute rush of support from voters who are skeptical of Lamont and Lieberman, estimating that he could gain as much as 10 points from last minute voters. "I think I'm gonna get the 'what the hell vote'.... They prefer me to Lieberman, they're worried about Lamont. But I think they're going to say 'what the hell.'"

He was also skeptical of the notion that a vote for Schlesinger was a vote for Lamont saying, "Just look at the last poll. If you believe any of it. Interestingly they say I've taken more from Lamont than Lieberman."

The debates have breathed new life into Schlesinger's campaign, and he couldn't be happier about that. Now when he campaigns people know him from TV. It's also forced the press to pay attention to his candidacy. "It's because the press is giving me, not an extra shot, a fair shot. They chose to make this a two way race. If they had made this a three way race on October 1st I'd probably be in the lead right now."

Schlesinger plans to air television commercials starting later this week.


Colbert's Eagle said...

I am still not sure if I am going to vote for Schlesinger, but he is a great example of what can happen when you speak principled truth. Debates and campaigns should be about policies, not lies and smear. Schlesinger did that.

He made the Senate debates a lot more interesting and showed he was the most powerful one on the stage last night when he got the protester to shut up.

I love his cocky line at the end, too. Washington needs some new blood. Too bad our country is not ready for it.

Anonymous said...

The Schlesinger Jugernaut. It's all quite amazing...and a poor reflection on both Lieberman and Lamont.

Although Alan will not get my vote, he has earned my respect.

Most of all, I would like to thank Ned because this has been the most fun campaign to watch in years.

The biggest loser I'm afraid will be John DeStefano...he just hasn't been able to break through the 'clutter' of the Senate race.


LiebermanForLieberman said...

Alan will be getting my vote and my respect.

And as of an hour ago, a lot of my money.

Schlesinger is a great candidate, much better than I had previously thought possible. He is the anti-Lieberman, and a breath of fresh air for our state.

I wish him the very best on November 7th.

Anonymous said...

another dick foley, chris healy, ben proto success story....

Just a Resident said...

Alan has my vote. He was the only "real person" on the stage at the debates.

Conservative Democrat said...

While I thought I had been set on voting for Lieberman, recent events have certainly changed my mind.

I have no trouble now saying that I'll be supporting Schlesinger.

R2K said...

: )

Bob, Berlin CT said...

It's no bandwagon-- it's the real deal... Alan is a good candidate and a good choice for the people of Connecticut.

The Caretaker said...

another dick foley, chris healy, ben proto success story....

I am a Lamont supporter but I happen to think this is an unnecessary and low blow. People who gamble have a right to gamble and, assuming they aren't wholly addicted, cheating, or stealing, there is no reason to assume they will.

Alan's explanation of the gambling story is true - lots of people use aliases when gambling for all kinds of privacy reasons. HOWEVER, when you collect winnings the tax man demands proof of true identity.

Unless Alan has a criminal record he is clean by that metric.

Foley and the existing bad apples in Washington are perverse beyond imagination compared to Alan's public foibles. In fact, by knowing Alan's past voters can better supervise his ongoing behavior which is more than we can say about too many politicians.

Anonymous said...

Was Voting for Joe. Now voting for Alan.

Anonymous said...

Nic try Anon. 9:27! LMAO

No matter how hard you Lamont supporters try, the people of CT aren't biting.

Schlesinger gets 10%.

Many people who would ordinarily vote for him will, instead, vote for Lieberman because he is the only candidate who can defeat Lamont!

great job georgie said...

I hope Mr Gallo is reading this.

Another shining example (one of MANY) of what is wrong with the Republican party in our state. They should have supported him from the get go, "bagage" or not.

Way to go Georgie! Grrrrrrrr

And oh, I am a republican.

Shadow said...

True, but if you are correct and Schlesinger gets 10%, the odds are actually against Lieberman, as he's incapable of getting over 45% with Schlesinger simultaneously grabbing 10% of the electorate (due to feelings in CT about the Iraq war).

Nonetheless, it's quite refreshing to see more and more conservative voters being true to themselves, abandoning Lieberman and going to Schlesinger. The Republican party will need to regroup after the neo-con dynasty collapses in the coming months, and an independent like Schlesinger is the kind of candidate Republicans will need to rebuild the party successfully. For a Republican voter to reject Schlesinger in favor of a neo-con Democrat is directly undercutting the future of the Republican party just to overturn the results of one Democratic primary. It makes no sense.

Anonymous said...

Anon. 10:06 - The Republican party missed a tremendous opportunity in the CT Senate race. I am a Republican and I wish my party had done whatever it took to get a strong challenger. The simple fact is this: even with full, early support from the party, Mr. Schlesinger was not going to win this race. Bottom line: he is not a strong candidate. (And please, before we hear from "Orchulli!" guy, he could not have won either.)

It has been said over and over on this and other blogs - the Republican party blew it. As a voter, I have to play the hand dealt to me (no pun intended Mr. Alan Gold). As a result, I will be voting for Lieberman. I cannot allow the US Senate and our country to be run by Ned Lamont and the extreme left-wing.

Anonymous said...

Shadow - Alan Schlesinger is the future of the Republican party??? Are you kidding me??? Even when he was the Mayor of Derby and a State Representative no one - I repeat no one - ever considered him to be a rising star in the party. Remember he tried to get the party nomination for Congress twice and was rejected both times.

Genghis Conn said...

This excerpt from a September 3rd, 1998 Laurence Cohen article sums up the relationship between the state GOP and Schlesinger. It isn't pretty:

It was this column that broke the news months ago that former Derby Mayor Alan Schlesinger would be stuffed into a barrel of hazardous waste and buried in a Naugatuck landfill if he launched a primary challenge against state Sen. Mark Nielsen of Danbury for the GOP congressional nomination in the 5th Congressional District.

Schlesinger, who was threatening to cause a fuss in Gov. Rowland's home district, called me weeks later to report that he was alive, well, unburied, and inclined to primary. The state GOP left a barrel on his front porch one morning. He got the message, and withdrew.

Anonymous said...

Connecticut Liberal Bloggers pimping Schlesinger has to be the most transparent ploy of the Lamont campaign. We are not stupid.

Shadow said...

> Anonymous: Alan Schlesinger is the future of the Republican party???

Schlesinger personally is not the future, it's his independent ideas and willingness to take on Washington accountability, fiscal responsibility, Social Security, immigration, and a dozen other issues the national Republican leadership has given up on. It's not the man; it's the message.

Candidates with his kind of issues are the future of the Republican party, because the alternative is the neo-con agenda, the support for which is clearly crumbling everyday across the country. Alan is obviously not going to win, but a vote for him will be registered as hope for the Republican party, and its chance to regroup as a viable party in the future; a vote for Lieberman says neo-con idealogy trumps traditional Republican values, and that Republicans would rather stop another candidate from winning than voice their own opinions.

> pimping Schlesinger has to be the most transparent
> ploy of the Lamont campaign. We are not stupid.

You think I'm writing all this stuff about how the Republican party can successfully regroup as a ploy? You're absolutely wrong.

If there's one thing the last several years have taught us, it's that single party monolithic rule is a BAD thing (in a recent poll of just Republicans, a staggering 48% said it was bad for Republicans to hold the House, Senate, and Presidency simultaneously; only half as many thought it was a good idea)

If neo-cons continue to crash and burn and the Republican party is seen as the party of nothing but neo-cons, that may well destroy Republicans for several election cycles (that's how the pendulum has swung with political parties in recent decades). And I, despite being a progressive moderate, do NOT rejoice at the idea of Democrats controlling everything. We need to have checks and balances, and I'd certainly rather have see serious Republican challengers than no challengers at all.

Bottom line, I think this election goes beyond R vs. D; in terms of policy, it's essentially neo-cons vs. the majority of Americans. Lieberman may have been a loyal Democrat for many years, but he's a neo-con, so I would NEVER support him; in fact, I'd pick Schlesinger over Lieberman if they were the only two candidates in the race. To quote what conservative Pat Buchanan said a few nights ago on Hardball: "This election is a referendum on neo-conservatism".

Anonymous said...

How can you say Ct Republicans aren't stupid?

You gave us both a crook in Rowland and a moron in Rell and now you're telling your own party members to vote for a very liberal 18 yr incumbent DEMOCRAT who wants to be at war with a billion people to save his beloved Israel.

The CT Republican party stands for nothing and is a joke.

Anonymous said...

That pretty much shuts 'em up Anon. 10:49!

Anonymous said...

Shadow said: "Schlesinger personally is not the future, it's his independent ideas and willingness to take on Washington accountability, fiscal responsibility, Social Security, immigration, and a dozen other issues the national Republican leadership has given up on. It's not the man; it's the message.

Candidates with his kind of issues are the future of the Republican party, because the alternative is the neo-con agenda, the support for which is clearly crumbling everyday across the country."

Funny, Shadow, you are describing Chris Shays, yet you want to throw him out also. Hmmmm... Nice try.

As for you Anon. 11:09 - You are right. The Republican party gave you John Rowland and he went to jail for corruption. We also gave you Phil Giordano, who should rot in jail for the rest of his life. Your Democrat party, however, gave us Joe Ganim (an LG candidate no less) and he is still in jail for corruption. You also gave us Jefferson Davis, who belongs with Giordano for committing unspeakably disgusting acts upon children. The list is longer but I will stop because others brighter than you get the point.

I will take ownership of our bad apples if you take ownership of yours. But you won't, because you are spineless.

Anonymous said...

Anon. 11:09 said: "[Liberman] wants to be at war with a billion people to save his beloved Israel."

Let me ask you: what is it like being anti-semitic?

Are the genuine Lamont supporters (ie progressive Democrats) comfortable with this alliance that is forged, albeit unintentional I am sure, between your candidate and the anti-Israel, anti-Jew andti-semitic crowd?

Anonymous said...

Chris Shays is a neo-con on most days. He's now saying the United sates should have gone into Iraq earlier than march 2003 and it didn't have to be abaout WMD's. Of course, now he wants a timetable for withdrawl from Iraq.

Shadow said...

Anoymous - Chris Shays has defended torture, a cornerstone of the neo-con agenda; Shays said that Abu Gharaib wasn't torture, it was a sex ring.

Schlesinger, on the other hand, said in the last debate that the recent laws have gone a bit too much in the security direction and away from personal freedoms. Now that's a Republican answer; limited government and individual freedoms, the mortal enemies of the neo-con.

Downplaying torture, on the other hand, is a neo-con trait which Shays has exhibited all too clearly in this race, and one it is unfair to smear Schlesinger with.

On another note, since some of you conservatives are apparantly STILL skeptical that my words are some sort of ploy, and you don't believe my assessment that the Republican party's future is in danger, here's what conservative pollster Frank Luntz said in the Washington Post yesterday:

"If they (Republicans) don't change the lexicon immediately, as bad as this election is going to be, they're going to lose the presidency in 2008. I've given up on 2006. They've already made so many mistakes, there's no way they can fix it in two weeks. But I'm worried now they're going to lose all the marbles." - http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/10/24/AR2006102401563.html

Let me guess - he's part of the pro-Lamont conspiracy too, huh?

Anonymous said...

Theres no antisenitsm is the remarks on this thread.

Joe Lieberman is a religious nut just as much as Osama Bin Laden is.

Most intelegent zionist realize Joe Liebermans promoting the introduction of US troops fighting a war and ocupying and Islamic country have cut the chances of Israels long term survival at least in half.

Anonymous said...

Bush isn't saying "stay the course" in Iraq anymore. Does that mean Joe has changed his position too?

justavoter said...

Alan showed the viewers in that last debate he can be a serious leader within the Republican Party for U.S. Senate.

If some change of votes on here in comments are anything .

Alan will get over 10 % of the Republican vote.

People now know him better then before the Primary and Republicans
in Connecticut who were voting for Lieberman who now switch for Alan.

I think Joe knowns this you can see it in his face on the last debate when Alan was attacking his failed leadership for the last 18 and the last 6 years in the U.S. Senate.

Lieberman needs Republican votes if he is going to win and now it looks like he will struggle to get that precentage that he needs.

Timm Knibbs said...

Putting the SS money into a mortgage pool sounds good until you think about it. How does this not put mortgage lenders out of business? and if it just for those who cannot get a mortgage then it would be more volitile than the stock market.

Timm Knibbs said...

Schlesinger is no conservative. True conservatives are pro-life. True conservatives will not side with the president in turning is country into a military state by allowing warrentless domestic spying.

Authentic Connecticut Republican said...

Timm Knibbs said...
Schlesinger is no conservative. True conservatives are pro-life


Check out Barry Goldwater sometime.

TRUE Conservatives want less gov't period and that would include bedroom police.

Don't look now but it was the Republican Party that brought safe & legal pregnancy termination back to the U.S. prior to the Roe decision.

Never mind that we pander the southerners every 4 years or so........

Anonymous said...

Authentic Connecticut Republican is one of those who brought you the great CT Republican Party.