Friday, November 27, 2015

Inversion And Its Enemies, DeLauro And Blumenthal

Pfizer – now Pfizer-Allergen, once one of the pillars in Connecticut’s emergent and lucrative bio-science industry -- is moving its headquarters from New York to Ireland. Pfizer is merging with Allergan, which is headquartered in Dublin. The move and merger will save the conjoined company about $2 billion, not chump change in the competitive world of bio-science.

When news of the move to Ireland reached the ears of U.S. House Representative Rosa DeLauro, she affected shock and then fumed, in chorus with Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, “We cannot continue to allow Pfizer and other corporations to pretend that they are American while reaping the benefits this country has to offer, yet claiming to be another nationality when the tax bill comes. Congress and the administration must do more to prevent these companies from moving their mailboxes abroad to avoid paying taxes in the United States."

Monday, November 23, 2015

Letters To A French Friend

November 16, 2015

Paris will learn soon enough what we have known for some time: that President Barack Obama, shrouded in the fog of unknowing, is not a reliable friend, which is to say – he is not a fraternal friend, as the French understand fraternity.

I wonder if that expression will surprise you. You are a student of history and, as such, you owe it to yourself to drive all false but comforting thoughts from your mind, particularly now that Paris, “the city of light,” has gone dark. It is important at such moments to embrace lucidity, so that we should not go dark as well. I may point out that of the two, comforting and discomforting thoughts, comforting thoughts are the more dangerous; they lull us to sleep, when we ought to be fully awake. We are always alert to danger, unless we are put to sleep by soothing words.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Murphy’s Law

U.S. Senator Chris Murphy has released in USA Today a manifesto that details his view on U.S. foreign policy and  ISIS, the Islamic terrorist state that has gobbled up large chunks of Iraq and Syria, in the process creating the “orphans and widows” President Barack Obama hopes to house, among other places and with the concurrence of Governor Dannel Malloy, in Connecticut.

Following the ISIS inspired attack in Paris, France, jihadi websites proclaimed that the warriors of Muhammed, blessings be upon him, would similarly attack the United States. “The American blood is best,” some boasted, “and we will taste it soon.” Islamic scholars in India strongly condemned the attack.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Clean Election Law Skirted: Jepsen Gives Last Rights To Constitutional Cap

Leading Democrats in the state – Governor Dannel Malloy, Speaker of the House Brendan Sharkey, President Pro Tem of the Senate Martin Looney – have opened a multi- pronged attack on the state’s clean election program and its watchdog, Connecticut’s State Elections Enforcement Commission (SEEC).

The effort to defang the state’s clean election laws began with an attempt by the Malloy administration to overleap a provision that prevents potential campaign contributors who do business with the state from polluting elections with campaign contributions to politicians who are in a position to advance their interests.

The Malloy administration had produced a mailer that was clearly a Malloy campaign ad. The administration added to the document a fine-print fig leaf concerning polling information and then argued that the small print polling notice transformed the Malloy campaign ad into a federal product that fell outside Connecticut clean campaign law regulations. The Republican Party filed a complaint with SEEC and the commission subpoenaed relevant documentation from the State Democratic Party in an effort to adjudicate the complaint. The state Democratic campaign commission did not want anyone – but especially not Republicans – poking about in its e-mails and so refused to acknowledge the subpoena. The matter was thrown into court, where it now lingers, batted to and fro like a shuttlecock by defense and plaintiff attorneys.

Coincidentally, Mr. Sharkey and Mr. Looney have proposed to slash funding to SEEC for one year – not in retaliation for the commission’s finding, we are to understand, but rather to balance Connecticut’s repeatedly out of balance budget. The budget is repeatedly out of balance because for many years expenditures in Connecticut have exceeded tax receipts and the state has adamantly refused to make permanent, long term cuts in spending. Having exhausted his taxing options, Mr. Malloy, who imposed upon Connecticut both the largest and the second largest tax increases in state history, felt obliged in his first campaign to resist further tax increases. Since then, he has used his recissionary powers to nip and tuck his budgets.

Forced by a constitutional cap to limit spending, Mr. Malloy withdrew pension payments from the cap so that he might spend more money unmolested by those who were insisting on long term, permanent spending cuts, but a recent decision rendered by Attorney General George Jepsen likely will make all such budget balancing tomfoolery unnecessary in the future.


Mr. Jepsen, once a Democratic Party Chairman, has rendered an opinion that the constitutional provision establishing Connecticut’s spending cap is, for all practical purposes, a dead letter that cannot be enforced because the legislature that established the constitutional provision never provided the definitions necessary to activate the law.       

It has taken nearly a quarter century, but finally Mr. Jepsen has given former Governor Lowell Weicker’s fraudulent constitutional cap on spending a decent burial. Connecticut’s spending cap, regularly violated by Connecticut’s last four governors, was initiated during the Weicker administration as a sop to induce wavering legislators to vote in favor of Mr. Weicker’s income tax.

The head of Mr. Weicker’s Office of Policy Management at the time the income tax measure squeaked through the General Assembly was Bill Cibes, a single issue, pro-income tax candidate for governor who had been soundly defeated by Bruce Morrison in a Democratic primary. During his own gubernatorial campaign, Mr. Weicker placed himself among anti-income tax stalwarts. Mr. Weicker proclaimed that instituting an income tax while recessionary flames were scorching Connecticut’s behind would be tantamount to “pouring gas on a fire.” The ever mercurial Mr. Weicker soon repented of his prudence and went full bore for an income tax after he had appointed Mr. Cibes to head his budget making operations. Mr. Weicker made certain that Mr. Cibes would fall on a cushy featherbed: In the summer of 1994, five months before Mr. Weicker left office, Mr. Cibes left his post as Secretary of the Office of Policy Management and became Chancellor of the newly formed Connecticut State University System.

Mr. Cibes re-emerged in April, 2015 to inveigh against Connecticut’s constitutional spending cap in a Hartford Courant op-ed piece, “Abolish Fatally Flawed State Spending Cap.”

“The spending cap,” Mr. Cibes wrote, “should be abolished. Instead, the public should rely on a control mechanism at the state level that is used effectively at the municipal level: Vote out officials who strike the wrong balance between service quality and cost control.

“To be sure,” Mr. Cibes prognosticated, “a quick repeal of the constitutional spending cap is unlikely. But in some past years, legislators and governors from both political parties have found ways to relax the cap.”

Mr. Jepsen’s decision seems sound, and it reverses an earlier absurd decision made by then Attorney General Dick Blumenthal, who advised that even though the clean campaign constitutional provision may have been flawed as a constitutional measure, the law retained its force as a statutory regulation. It didn’t, and doesn’t. As Gertrude Stein might have said, had she instead of Mr. Blumenthal been Attorney General in Connecticut, “A constitutional law is a constitutional law is a constitutional law. And if the law is deprived of necessary definitions, it is inoperative.

Republicans have now called upon the Democratic dominated General Assembly to supply the missing definitions that would give force to the law and reestablish, at a minimum, the illusion of clean elections in Connecticut. It is by no means certain that Democrats will warm to the notion. A budget without a cap, like a house without a roof, provides an infinite extension; without a cap, spending could reach Sirius and, in a one-party state, political ambition generally trumps prudence. Given a lie detector test and sworn under oath, even the ambitious Mr. Cibes might admit as much.   

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Murphy Missing Some Dots: Isis Must Be Destroyed

U.S. Senator Chris Murphy’s immediate reaction to the mass murder of innocent civilians in France by ISIS inspired terrorists was remarkably on-script and unemotional, unlike his earlier reaction to a Ted Cruz inspired video in which Senator Cruz, a Republican now running for President, boasts that he stood up for Second Amendment rights following the Sandy Hook mass murder. The video, Mr. Murphy said, “makes me want to throw up.” Mr. Murphy’s Democratic partner in politics from Connecticut, Dick Blumenthal, also denounced the PAC video, ineptly inserting himself into the Sandy Hook drama. In that smarmy way oleaginous politicians have of placing themselves center-stage at important events, Mr. Blumenthal strongly suggested he was present when Governor Dannel Malloy told the parents of murdered students and teachers at the firehouse near Sandy Hook Elementary School that their children and teachers would not be coming home again. In truth, Mr. Blumenthal arrived after the announcement had been made.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Lies, Damned Lies And Blumenthal: Why Does This Guy Keep Doing This?

U.S. Senator Dick Blumenthal has a way of sneaking up on the truth and clubbing it to death with either a half-truth or a persistent, outright lie. And over a period of time, a pattern has begun to develop: The alluring possibility of flooding one's political stage with heroic action is, in Mr. Blumenthal’s case, irresistible. It’s like dangling a pacifier before a non-aborted baby.

NBC Connecticut news is now reporting that “Sen. Richard Blumenthal is facing criticism over claims he lied in a comment he made in an MSNBC interview about being in Newtown when families were being informed about losing their loved ones in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting massacre.”

Monday, November 09, 2015

Crime And Punishment In Reformist Connecticut

In 2012, Connecticut’s Democrat dominated General Assembly abolished capital punishment but carved out an exception for convicted murderers awaiting the death penalty on death row. The carve-out for the eleven death row prisoners was a blatant violation of what used to be called the natural law, a series of political, philosophical and penological assumptions that informs all laws, statutory and constitutional.

The abolition should have been applied retroactively to Connecticut prisoners awaiting death, for reasons lucidly stated by Samuel Johnson when he was reporting on debates in the House of Commons. The Nulla poena sine lege doctrine -- “where there is no law, there is no transgression” – Mr. Johnson wrote, “is a maxim not only established by universal consent, but in itself evident and undeniable; and it is, Sir, surely no less certain that where there is no transgression, there can be no punishment.” By abolishing the death penalty yet leaving the penalty in force for those convicted of capital murder then awaiting punishment on Connecticut’s death row, the General Assembly and Mr. Malloy were arranging to execute prisoners in the absence of a law prescribing the death penalty for capital felony. But – where there is no law, there can be no punishment. The death penalty abolition law and the carve-out established by the General Assembly and signed by Mr. Malloy, a former repentant prosecutor, was worse than unconstitutional; it was arbitrary, patently unjust and a clear violation of the Natural Law.

The carve-out, however, was POLITICALLY necessary. The abolition bill was signed into law only five years after a horrific murder in Cheshire, and wounds were still bleeding. Time, the old adage has it, heals all wounds. In the fullness of time – only five years after two parolees had invaded Dr. William Petit’s home, beat the doctor senseless with a baseball bat, forced his wife to withdraw money from a bank account, raped and murdered both his wife and one of his younger daughters and murdered three women by setting fire to the house – the General Assembly and Mr. Malloy at long last had achieved their purpose. After the Cheshire mass murder, gun sales spiked in Connecticut. If it takes more than twenty minutes for police to arrive after you’ve called them,”
 one gun purchaser told me, You have to depend on yourself.

In due course, the Connecticut Supreme Court vacated the death penalty for the eleven death row inmates – for the wrong reason. The court did not argue that it was a violation of justice itself to execute a capital felon in the absence of a law prescribing the death penalty for felony murder; instead, adopting a sociological pose, the court arbitrarily ruled that “the death penalty was an outdated tool of justice at odds with today’s societal values," a judgement correctly characterized by Chief Justice Chase T. Rogers as “a house of cards, falling under the slightest breath of scrutiny.”

Those politicians favoring abolition of the death penalty most vigorously – co-chairs of the state’s judiciary committee Michael Lawlor, now Mr. Malloy’s undersecretary for criminal justice policy and planning, and Andrew McDonald, recently appointed to Connecticut’s Supreme Court by Mr. Malloy – argued implausibly that the death penalty had no deterrent value.  If the prospect of death – which clears the mind wonderfully, Dr. Johnson said – is not a deterrent, then NO PUNISHMENT may be regarded as a deterrent; such is the ruling in the court of common sense. Actually, it was the failure to impose capital punishment, a feature designed into Connecticut’s rococo death penalty process, that made deterrence less effective. Mr. McDonald has yet to be asked why he did not recuse himself in the death penalty abolition decision.

Death penalty abolition is only one of the carrots in Mr. Malloy’s penological reform quiver. Mr. Lawlor, also a prosecutor, has constructed a Rube Goldberg penological machine that permits violent criminals such as rapists to earn get-out-of-jail-early credits while in prison. One of his students, a card-carrying member of a violent gang who burned his mattress while in jail, served as a drug mule and assaulted guards and other prisoners, Frankie “The Razor” Resto,  acquired an illegal weapon on release – not, one may be sure, at a gun show --  waltzed into an EZMart store in Meriden, and shot and murdered the co-owner of the store AFTER the victim had obligingly turned over his cash register receipts to Mr. Razor. The vicious murderer plea bargained his sentence and, in any case, presently has nothing to fear from Connecticut’s repealed capital punishment law – or, for that matter, from Mr. Malloy’s penological reforms, which are all carrots and no stick. Michelle Cruz, Connecticut's VictimsAdvocate at the time, who performed her duties much too conscientiously, was effectively replaced by pro-abolition activist Malloy and his factotums.

Mr. Malloy’s latest attempt to repeal reality by redefining settled concepts involves proposed legislation that would redefine the parameters of juvenile behavior, and never mind that including convicted criminals up to age 24 in the juvenile law bucket is itself a juvenile attempt to change reality through magic thinking – which has little to do with genuine penological reform. A more comprehensive penological reform would abolish ALL punishments on the grounds that only therapeutic forgiveness deters crime. The Malloy administration is not there yet.

Sunday, November 08, 2015

Hartford And Bridgeport, The Golden Age Of Urban Hegemony

It should have been obvious that Luke Bronin, who prevailed over incumbent Mayor Pedro Segarra in a primary, would be the next Mayor of Hartford. In one-party Democratic towns, the victor of a Democratic primary most often wins general election contests.

A Hartford paper noted that Mr. Bronin had amassed a campaign war chest of $937,377, an abundance of riches the paper terms “unprecedented,” by which we should understand “indecently obscene.” Mr. Bronin’s competitors in the Mayoralty race – Republican candidate Theodore "Ted" Cannon and Working Families Party candidate Joel Cruz Jr., running for Mayor as an unaffiliated candidate, were impoverished, relatively speaking.  Mr. Cruz raised $19,587, Mr. Cannon $1,500, spending  $1,224 mostly on lawn signs. The money Mr. Cannon spent attempting to reach the hearts and minds of voters will surprise the same sort of people who will be astonished to discover there is a Republican Party in Hartford.

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Connecticut’s Future Ain’t What It Used To Be

As leading politicians in Connecticut – including Republicans, so far frozen out of budget negotiations by Governor Dannel Malloy -- gather together to decide collectively how to shore up sagging state revenues, a recent report issued by state comptroller Kevin Lembo contains a fly in the ointment.

Mr. Lembo is predicting a $118 million budget deficit. No surprise there; deficits have been a recurring feature in budgets sent by Mr. Malloy to the Democratic controlled General Assembly. Rather than call a special session to fix the problem, Mr. Malloy has relied on his rescission authority to patch the repetitive holes.  Mr. Malloy’s last budget cuts came a bit too close to the bone and disturbed Democratic leaders in the General Assembly, who in the past had winked at Mr. Malloy’s two massive tax increases, the largest and the second largest in state history.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Democrats and Republicans Behind Closed Doors

The relationship between Republicans on the one hand and Governor Dannel Malloy and Democratic leaders in the General Assembly, Speaker of the House Brendan Sharkey and President Pro Tem of the Senate Martin Looney, on the other has been frosty from the beginning of Mr. Malloy’s tenure in office. “Frosty” may be a considerable understatement: On budgetary matters, Democrats and Republicans were not on speaking terms at all.

Mr. Malloy, quite consciously, pushed Republican leaders out of the room during all his budget negotiations, which made budget formation easier for the Governor, even as it signaled a certain audacious and dismissive attitude towards Republicans. In fact, Mr. Malloy had diagnosed Connecticut’s ills before he presented his first budget to the General Assembly. He knew what he had to do and proceeded to plow an unobstructed path for himself.