Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Milo, The Canary In The First Amendment Mineshaft

If you want a functioning First Amendment – which prevents Congress or state legislatures (or college administrators?) from making laws and regulations prohibiting free speech – you must suffer the demagogues to come unto you. The First Amendment is the baby, the demagogue the bathwater, and you do not want to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

It is because we wish to preserve the right of statesmen to speak freely that we tolerate the demagogue. It may be important to point out that the word “demagogue” did not always have a negative connotation. The demagogue in ancient Greece and Rome was one who was uniquely able to speak to the populace in terms they might understand; he was the vox populi. In a society rigidly separated by class – rich and poor, privileged and non-privileged, free and slave – Greek and Roman demagogues were what today we would call populists, a term of approval in some quarters. The first notable Greek cynic, Antisthenes, a student of Socrates, would have found himself right at home in Twitterville. The demagogue is the populist with a golden tongue, popular because he is persuasive. No one very much minds unpersuasive political opponents, unless they are largely inarticulate anarchic mobs determined to destroy free speech.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Malloy Not Anti-Gun, Pro Fee

Governor Dannel Malloy, the Record Journal reports, is not anti-gun. He has proposed raising pistol permit fees by $230; presently, fees are hovering around $50. He is pro-fee.  “I’m not anti-gun,’ Malloy said. “I have lots of friends who are hunters and I know lots of people who have guns.”

Following the slaughter of the innocents at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Malloy succeeded in passing a bill through Connecticut’s General Assembly rather quickly. The National Rifle Association (NRA), the bete noir of Malloy and Connecticut’s two U.S. Senators, Dick Blumenthal and Chris Murphy, protested as expected.

Following passage of an “assault weapons” ban among the most restrictive in the nation, Malloy appeared on CNN’s show “State of the Union” and fragged both the gun industry, some of it still operating in Connecticut, and the NRA. “What this is about,” said Malloy, “is the ability of the gun industry to sell as many guns to as many people as possible—even if they are deranged, even if they are mentally ill, even if they have a criminal background. They don’t care. They want to sell guns,” apparently to Malloy’s friends.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Lincoln Alive: His Relevance to Modern Politics.

I will be giving the key note address for the Meriden Lincoln Day event (see below). The address is titled "Lincoln Alive: His Relevance to Modern Politics." An excerpt follows:

" Studying the speeches of Lincoln – even his casual remarks – and comparing them with the sound-bite rhetoric of any modern politician you care to mention, one is forced to the conclusion that the Darwinian notion that a final product is more complex and perfect at the end of any developmental process is pure hokum. Only a political process that retains what is best and purifies our politics by speaking to the angels of our better nature can be called an improvement, a step forward toward beauty and perfection.”

I hope to see you there, but if you cannot attend, pass along the notice to others.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Malloy Through The Looking Glass

After Alice falls through the rabbit hole, she finds herself in an alternate universe in which right is left and up is down, a distorted mirror image of life in the real world. Along the way, she encounters the heartless Queen of Hearts who says to her, “First the verdict, then the trial.” She also meets Humpty Dumpty, who uses words variously to mean A and NOT-A, prompting this dialogue:

"When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less."
"The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean so many different things.’"
"The question is," said Humpty Dumpty, "which is to be master — that’s all."

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Real Reforms And Willful Blindness

Forbes magazine asked last March “Can Connecticut Be Saved?” The bone-crushing statistics provided were telling: “Connecticut’s job-growth rate is a meager 1.1%, compared with the national average of 5.1%. According to the Connecticut Department of Labor, the state’s unemployment rate is 5.5%, compared with a national average of 4.9%. Connecticut ranks among the top 10 states for net out-migration, losing 140,571 taxpayers in that same 10-year time period. And this trend can be tracked over several decades. Between 1992 and 2014, Connecticut lost $12.36 billion in annual adjusted gross income (AGI).”

Last July the Mercatus Center placed Connecticut number one among states having the worst fiscal conditions in the nation. So then, what can be done to pull Connecticut from its tailspin?

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Is Progressivism a spent bullet?

A Self-Interview February 2017 

Q: I’ve heard you say on Jim Vicevich’s radio program that progressivism as we’ve known it during the past few years of the Obama administration may be a spent bullet?

A: Yes and no.

Q: Give us the “yes” first.

A: Barack Obama is a spent bullet. Had Hillary Clinton been elected president, Obama might have had a brief afterlife. That did not happen; instead, the country turned, pretty resolutely and in anguish, to Donald Trump, the horse of a different color. The left continues to show its disappointment. Anarchists join a protest march at Berkley and succeed in storming a Starbucks; Trump’s cabinet nominations are delayed; and then there is that tar-bush speech by Elizabeth Warren in the course of which she quoted the late Edward Kennedy on U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions, recently appointed Trump’s attorney general. Quoting Kennedy, Warren said, "Mr. Sessions is a throwback to a shameful era which I know both black and white Americans thought was in our past. It is inconceivable to me that a person of this attitude is qualified to be a U.S. attorney, let alone a U.S. Federal judge. He is, I believe, a disgrace to the Justice Department and he should withdraw his nomination and resign his position.” Warren had violated a Senate rule of decorum and was ordered to leave the podium. A momentary media spasm erupted.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Trump No Jackson, Blumenthal no Louaillier

"We're careening, literally, toward a constitutional crisis. And he's [Judge Gorsuch] been nominated by a president who has repeatedly and relentlessly attacked the American judiciary on three separate occasions, their credibility and trust is in question" Blumenthal on CNN 

President Donald Trump is irascible and prone to childish fits of personal outrage, but his dealings with the judiciary are not quite as bloodcurdling as those of President Andrew Jackson, the founder of the modern Democratic Party.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Tail Gunner Dick

U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions soon will assume his duties as President Donald Trump’s Attorney General. His nomination was opposed by leading Democrats in the U.S. Congress chiefly because he was not Eric Holder.  At one point during his cross examination of Sessions, U.S. Senator and mud thrower from Connecticut Dick Blumenthal subtly suggested that Sessions might have a soft spot in his heart for the KKK. Blumenthal noted that Sessions had received some awards during his twenty years in the Congress, among them an award from the David Horowitz Freedom Center, Frank Gaffney's Center for Security Policy and the Federation for American Immigration Reform, the latter of which Blumenthal noted is classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, according to a story in the Washington Examiner.

"Given that you did not disclose a number of those awards,” Blumenthal asked, “are there any other awards from groups that have similar kinds of ideological negative views of immigrants or of African-Americans or Muslims or others, including awards that you may have received from the Ku Klux Klan?"

Thursday, February 09, 2017

Malloy’s Budget, Same Old, Same Old

If it were possible for Governor Dannel Malloy to transfer Connecticut’s debt backward to previous administrations, he would do so a New York minute. This being impossible, he has shifted blame for the state’s current indebtedness to preceding governors, absolving from adverse criticism, for some odd reason, former Governor Lowell Weicker, whom he rarely mentions as being a governor who had run up future debt by increasing taxes and spending.

Perhaps that is because Malloy himself has adopted Weicker’s strategy in attacking debt – raise taxes. Twice since he had been elected the first Democratic governor in twenty six years, Malloy has raised taxes, imposing on the state both the largest and the second largest tax increases in state history. The last Connecticut pre-income tax budget was about $7.5 billion; the current Malloy budget is nearly three times as large, every single penny of it having been appropriate from Connecticut’s real working party, middle class people mostly who uncomplainingly go off to work in in the morning, kiss their children good night in the evening, go off to working in the morning and pay their increasingly burdensome taxes.

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Answering Murphy’s Treacherous Open Arms, Empty Holster Foreign Policy Prescriptions

On Monday (February 6, 2017), the Harford Courant printed a long, 1335 word op-ed column written by U.S. Senator Chris Murphy that previously had appeared in the Huffington Post, “Trump’s Reckless Path Towards War.” http://www.courant.com/opinion/op-ed/hc-op-murphy-trumps-reckless-iran-policy-0206-20170203-story.html

This is the lede to the column: “Since the inauguration, the White House has taken several ham-handed escalatory steps that bring into question whether Trump and his most radical advisers are begging for war with Iran. This would be a disaster of epic scale, perhaps eclipsing the nightmare of the Iraq War. Republicans and Democrats need to start viewing President Donald Trump's actions and words as a possible accidental or intentional prelude to major conflict, and take steps to counter this dangerous slide to war.”

Almost every sentence is parsable. Taken as a whole, the piece amounts to a pawn house of campaign talking points, none of which are new, all of which are doubtful. From Murphy’s view atop the progressive mountain, some of Trump's advisors appear radical. Point of view determines one’s place on the political spectrum.