Thursday, January 18, 2018

The Treason Of The Intellectuals

The phrase is French -- La Trahison des clercs”, meaning roughly the treason of the intellectuals. This particular phrase, launched by Julien Benda in 1927, could only have popped out of a French head. Benda’s beef was that the intellectuals of his day were placing the virtue of action above the necessity of lucid thinking. Opinion makers, Benda feared, were allowing political commitment to strangle thought. As Roger Kimball put it in a 1992 essay in the New Criterion, "Benda claimed, politics was THE ideal of disinterestedness, the universality of truth: such guiding principles were contemptuously deployed as masks when they were not jettisoned altogether. It was in this sense that he castigated the 'desire to abase the values of knowledge before the values of action.'”

When intellectuals abandon “the universality of truth” for political reasons, they are guilty of intellectual treason. During Benda’s own day, politicians were wearing convincing but false masks of intellectualism; think of Stalin in Russia, Hitler in Germany, Mussolini in Italy, and the choir of intellectuals who surrounded them. Suitably abased, knowledge yielded to political force blind to truth.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

McDonald Is No Conservative

On Capitol Report, Roy Occhiogrosso, Governor Dannel Malloy’s chief cook and bottle washer during his first term, had this to say about State Supreme Court Associate Justice Andrew McDonald: “I worked with Andrew, as you know for a couple of years.” Before being appointed by Malloy to the Supreme Court, McDonald was the Senate co-chairman, along with House Rep. Mike Lawlor, of the Judiciary Committee. Occhiogrosso continued, “I’ve known him for a long time – very smart, very careful, very conservative in the sense that he observes the bright lines he is supposed to observe.”

It is telling that Occhiogrosso, who perhaps knows the mind of Malloy better than most, should be constrained to announce that McDonald is in some approvable fashion conservative. Some legislators, not all of them conservative, might more justly argue that McDonald has rarely seen a bright line he has not ventured to cross.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Democrat MIAs Aboard The Titanic

Democrat Dan Drew, the mayor of Middletown, has withdrawn from the governor’s race. His name may now be added to a crowd of Democrat MIAs. Drew announced he was running for governor before Governor Dannel Malloy threw in the towel. His gesture of mild defiance could not have set well with the thin-skinned Malloy who, like a post-Capone Capo di tutti capi, likes his vengeance dishes served cold.

Malloy’s Lieutenant Governor Nancy Wyman, pleading grandchildren, has decided not to run. Malloy’s Comptroller, Kevin Lembo, earlier decided he did not want to be governor. Attorney General George Jepsen, who easily might have held his position as long as his predecessor, Dick Blumenthal, decided to call it a day after only six years – hopefully setting an unalterable precedent. And Jepsen did not announce for governor. Blumenthal was Attorney General for two decades and might still have been there, a scourge of Connecticut businesses, had not then U.S. Senator Chris Dodd left the Senate for Hollywood, turning over his two decades old sinecure to St. Dick.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

A Wrinkle In The Democratic Playing Field

Political prospects do not look bright for Democrats in 2018.

They will be carrying a heavy load. When Governor Dannel Malloy does step aside in January 2019, he will have left behind him a state in near collapse. The use of the word “collapse” here is not intended metaphorically. By almost any measure, Connecticut is a state with its feet firmly planted on the road to ruination. It is the only state the nation that has not yet recovered from a national recession that officially ended in June 2009.

There are many reasons for this, but the principal one is: the state cannot rely on tax increases to discharge future indebtedness. The tax well has dried up. Both companies and people have for some time past been voting with their feet against a tsunami of tax increases. The Weicker income tax in 1991 has been followed by Malloy’s two tax increases, the largest and the second largest in state history.

Sunday, January 07, 2018

What Connecticut Can Learn From History

Connecticut, as everyone who has been leaving it knows, is in a bad way. How bad is it?

The state is still recovering from a recession that had ended elsewhere in the nation in June 2009. For eight years, we have been hobbling along and are now the only state in the nation that has yet to recover from the recession – which is, as everyone who has been leaving the state knows, a slowdown in business activity. There are two very good reasons why Connecticut has been so laggard: 1) Governor Dannel Malloy’s first tax increase, the largest in state history, and 2) Governor Malloy’s second tax increase, the second largest in state history.

But then, we were forewarned.  Lowell Weicker did caution us during his campaign for governor that raising taxes in a recession would be like throwing gas on a fire, only a few months before he instituted his income tax, over the heated objections of a Republican Party rump in the General Assembly. When Weicker was met by the largest rally in state history, he fearlessly strode through the anti-tax crowd, a triumphant smile pasted on his face. Awaiting him at the state Capitol was his Office of Policy Management chief, Bill Cibes, who had run for governor, honestly, on a pro-income tax platform and had been solidly rejected.

Saturday, January 06, 2018

DeLauro’s Psychiatric Salon

So-called psychoanalysis is the occupation of lustful rationalists who trace everything in the world to sexual causes - with the exception of their occupation -- Karl Kraus

U.S. Representative Rosa DeLauro has invited professor Bandy Lee of Yale to address “a gathering of fellow Democrats” at her lavish digs in Washington DC. The subject of the gathering will be President Donald Trump’s mental imbalance.

As do many Democrats, Dr. Lee thinks Trump is batty, according to an item in CTMirror: Recently Lee and two professors from Columbia – a university named, unfortunately, after Columbus – released a statement signed by 100 psychiatrists that said, “We believe that (Trump) is now further unraveling in ways that contribute to his belligerent nuclear threat.”

The Trump threat was a twitter taunt in response to a statement from batty North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un that said, in effect, my nuclear weapons are bigger than yours. Sigmund Freud is reported to have said about cigars, “Sometimes a cigar is only a cigar,” meaning: try not to over-Freudenize everything. Sometimes a threat is only a threat.

Friday, January 05, 2018

An Independent Governor, The Holy Grail Of Desperation

The hunger for an independent governor – that is, one who is independent of party allegiance -- begins to approach the intensity of the search for the Holy Grail.

Independence is regarded as a boon for several reasons, one of them best stated by Mark Twain: “Look at the tyranny of party -- at what is called party allegiance, party loyalty -- a snare invented by designing men for selfish purposes -- and which turns voters into chattels, slaves, rabbits, and all the while their masters, and they themselves are shouting rubbish about liberty, independence, freedom of opinion, freedom of speech, honestly unconscious of the fantastic contradiction; and forgetting or ignoring that their fathers and the churches shouted the same blasphemies a generation earlier when they were closing their doors against the hunted slave, beating his handful of humane defenders with Bible texts and billies, and pocketing the insults and licking the shoes of his Southern master.”

Tuesday, January 02, 2018

Connecticut's Democrat Potholes

Politiconot a raving right news site, offered some hope to Republicans in Connecticut on the last day of the old year:

“Deep-blue Connecticut is actually one of Republicans' best opportunities in 2018. Malloy’s approval ratings were some of the worst among any governor in the country, and he decided not to run for a third term. But Republicans hope that environment in the state will clear the way for their candidate next fall. There are almost a dozen candidates running in the Republican primary and it’s unclear who will emerge as the nominee. A Tremont Public Advisors LLC poll conducted in mid-December found a generic Republican candidate beating a generic Democratic candidate — 35 percent to 23 percent, with 42 percent undecided — despite the fact that Connecticut has not voted Republican at the presidential level since 1988.”

Friday, December 29, 2017

Ring Out The Old, Bring In The New: Is Shanghai Burning?

"Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities” -- Voltaire

Chris Powell would blush to hear someone say it, but his retirement from the Journal Inquirer in January will leave a gaping hole in Connecticut journalism. Fortunately, Powell’s voice will still ring out in columns. The press notice announcing his retirement was placed amusingly on the right side of the paper’s obituary page.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Connecticut GOP, Waiting For Godot

A historical repetition, Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard reminds us, is not possible, because it is not possible to recreate historically the precise conditions that occasioned the event we wish to replicate. Karl Marx, a poor economist but a passable social critic, put it this way: “History repeats itself; the first time as tragedy, and the second time as farce.”  

The shadow of a not too amusing farce hovers over a recent report in a Hartford paper. The central premise of the report is this: Charlie Barker of Massachusetts is a successful Republican Governor, his approval rating an astonishing 71 percent. Baker is the usual New England moderate Republican, one who is conservative on fiscal issues but liberal on social issues. If only Connecticut were able to field a Charlie Baker-like gubernatorial candidate in the upcoming 2018 race, the GOP might be able to sweep the boards and restore to the gubernatorial office – held for two terms by Dannel Malloy, a progressive governor with an appalling approval rating of 29 percent, the lowest in the nation -- a “moderate” governor such as John Rowland, Jodi Rell or Lowell Weicker.