Friday, April 25, 2008

“They died because of a mosquito bite…”


Today, apparently, is Malaria Awareness Day. I know this because President Bush decided to pay our fair city of Hartford a visit to make a speech about it. He chose to speak at the Boys & Girls Club in the historic “north end” to mark this seemingly irrelevant occasion. I mean no disrespect to the cause of helping eradicate malaria, which is totally relevant, noble and good. The irrelevancy is simply Bush’s choice of location.

The official story is that the national organization of the Boys & Girls Club has raised $25,000 to pay for 2,000 mosquito nets for Africa. Of course, if one considers the cost of the jet fuel it took to bring Air Force One to Bradley International Airport, providing secret service detail and the thousands of Connecticut commuters who were late for work this morning because of the nightmare traffic jam this visit caused, the $25,000 doesn’t seem like all that much money. Why couldn't he just stay home and match those funds? Donate them to the cause in the name of the Boys & Girls Club of America. Even better - go all USAID and be sure the giant check is stamped for all to see, "From the American People."
Maybe Bush felt it was necessary to the country’s standing in the world to acknowledge this historic day via a photo op and a speech full of talking points while surrounded by a bunch of black kids from a good old fashioned American inner city. Granted, the very first Boys & Girls club was founded in Hartford, however the national headquarters is in Atlanta.
So what do malaria and the north end of Hartford have in common? Absolutely nothing. But before I get into the real reason for Bush’s sojourn into the Nutmeg state, here are some Connecticut fun facts:
  • 30% of Hartford residents live below the poverty line. That ranks Hartford second in the nation after Brownsville, Texas. Not bad, considering Hartford is the capital city of the "richest state in the union."
  • The per capita income of the average Hartford resident is $13,428. The average rent for a two bedroom apartment in Hartford is $800 per month.
  • In Connecticut, a child is born into poverty an average of every 2 hours. It is also a statistical fact that everyday a Connecticut child dies before his or her first birthday.
  • On average, a Connecticut child is killed by gunfire every three weeks.
Now onto the real reason why “W” graced us with his presence today. He spent the afternoon at Henry Kissinger’s house in Kent helping to raise money for the Republican congressional candidate, David Cappiello. At this $500 per ticket event, one could hob-knob with the likes of Kissinger, Representative Chris Shays and other Republican pukes. For $10,000 you could get your picture taken with the president. This junket was fully financed with taxpayer money because of the pit stop (pit being the operative word) in Hartford. How cute. For those of you who aren’t aware, Cappiello is challenging the Democratic incumbent, Chris Murphy for his seat in the House of Representatives. You might recall that Murphy handed Nancy Johnson her ass in the 2006 election.

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