Friday, December 02, 2016

Blumenthal To Trump: No Honeymoon


U.S. Senator Dick Blumenthal, Connecticut’s consumer protection Congressman, might have been speaking of the Clinton Foundation, a mare’s nest of government-corporation entanglement, when he mused, “Time is not on our side. We really need to move quickly, because the longer it goes without some scrutiny or oversight, the more general acceptance there will be. We need to create this sense of outrage and alarm that pieces of the government are being sold and compromised.”

But of course, he wasn’t.  Mr. Blumenthal was drawing a bead on President-Elect Donald Trump. Apparently, there is to be no honeymoon during this post-election season. It used to be considered seemly to wait a few weeks into a Presidency before the political opposition began to seed the political theatre with their Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs).

Monday, November 28, 2016

Dead Tyrants And Their Useful Idiots


Hillare Belloc’s “Advice to the Rich” was lost on the Castro brothers: “Get to know something about the internal combustion engine, and remember – soon, you will die.”

Fidel Castro, Cuba’s deathless tyrant, died full of years a very rich man, his foreign bank account stuffed with other people’s money, though one would never guess it reading Jesse Jackson’s encomium.

Friday, November 25, 2016

The State Of Nullification


Sanctuary, when practiced by Governors rather than churches, is nullification, a common practice infamously deployed by the Southern states during and after the Civil War.

Henry David Thoreau, author of “Slavery in Massachusetts,” was what might be called a-party-of-one nullifier. Thoreau famously refused to pay a tax that might have been traced, even indirectly, to the purchase of a bullet used by slave owners to recover the “property” they had lost after the infamous Fugitive Slave Act had been passed. That law lit the bonfire of resistance among abolitionists in Massachusetts. Thoreau no doubt would have encouraged those in his audience who heard his address – for reasons unknown, seldom circulated in schools – to do the same, but the monk of Walden Pond knew the limits of audacity. Refusing to pay a tax, he went to jail himself, as ever a party of one.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Permanent Fixes


Connecticut, still in a recession and plagued by crippling deficits and job losses -- 14,900 positions over the last four months, according to Department of Labor figures --  cannot recover its economic standing among neighboring states without enacting major reforms that entail permanent long term cuts in spending.

Any reform that reduces state employee salaries and benefits in Connecticut is a tall hill to climb, because the state of Connecticut and unions are bound by contract law and not, as is the case in Rhode Island, by statutory law. To put it another way,  union and state disputes in Rhode Island are settled by the legislature; in Connecticut, such disputes are settled by the courts. Unlike Connecticut, the Rhode Island legislature controls the destiny of the state through democratic rather than judicial means. Bound by contract law, Connecticut has surrendered to its courts final decisions that should rest with the General Assembly.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Parsing Malloy


Is there yet another tax hike in our near future?

Thinking people think so.

Republican leaders in the General Assembly hit the tax increase chord repeatedly in the recently concluded elections, and apparently voters responded to it. The Republicans picked up seats in the Senate, which is now a fifty-fifty proposition, 18 Democrats and 18 Republicans. The GOP also gained seats in the House. In a recent TV interview, Governor Dannel Malloy said he would not rule out another tax hike, more budget cuts were in the offing, and recurring deficits were the fault of his predecessors.

Parsing Mr. Malloy at this point should not be difficult. During his first campaign, Mr. Malloy said Connecticut shoulders would have to lift the weight of deficits caused by other governors, but the burden would be fairly distributed between cuts and tax increases. Two tax increases, the largest and the second largest in state history, demonstrate beyond doubt that taxpayers have shouldered the bulk of the uneven budget deficit burdens.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Back To Kumbaya?

Connecticut’s State Senate is split 18-18 between Democrats and Republicans, and this election season – even with “loser” Donald Trump heading the Republican Presidential ticket – Connecticut Republicans made gains in the State House and Senate.

Among those crying in their beers the day after the nation sent Mr. Trump to the White House was Dean Baquet, executive editor of the New York Times, who remarked to his media columnist, James Rutenberg, “We’ve got to do a much better job of being on the road, out in the country, talking to different kinds of people than we talk to — especially if you happen to be a New York-based news organization — and remind ourselves that New York is not the real world.”

Friday, November 11, 2016

Who Done It? CBIA As Villain


The end of election season marks the beginning of recriminations. Very gradually – too gradually for some – Republicans have been making inroads on the Democrat dominated General Assembly. This year, Republicans picked up three seats in the Senate, equalizing the balance of power 18-18, although Democrat Lieutenant Governor Nancy Wyman will break any tie vote in the chamber, and eight seats in the House, leaving Democrats with a 79-72 majority. Democrats have over the last few elections lost significant numbers in the General Assembly, once an impregnable Democratic fortress.

Democrats seized the Governor’s office two terms back when Governor Malloy became the first Democratic Governor to hold office in Connecticut since former Governor William O’Neill, battered by Democrats and Republicans alike, decided not to run for re-election. Mr. O’Neill was followed by “Maverick” Governor Lowell Weicker, the income tax guy, who was followed by Governor John Rowland, who was followed by Governor Jodi Rell, who was followed by Mr. Malloy who, facing the inevitable budget deficit, raised taxes, while minority Republicans scowled and Democrats cheered. Happy times were here again.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Tears In Beers


Newsweek was over confident. The magazine set up its front page showing Democratic Presidential nominee defeating real estate mogul Donald Trump – two days before Election Day.

Scrap that.

Prior to Mr. Trump’s victory, a Hartford Courant political writer instructed a Talk of Connecticut Election Luncheon audience that “The Donald” was sub-human, and Bill Curry, whose support of socialist Bernie Sanders quickly shifted to Democratic Presidential nominee Hillary Clinton once Mrs. Clinton had bumped off Mr. Sanders, declared that Mr. Trump was “emotionally unbalanced, a fascist, and a fraud”. Perhaps after Mr. Trump has been in office a couple of years, Mr. Curry will readjust his depreciation of President Elect Trump, even as he has frequently adjusted his politics between the now abandoned Mr. Sanders and the re-embraced Mrs. Clinton.

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

After-Thoughts


A Pre-election Luncheon


A day before the national elections, Newsweek magazine released its cover. "Madam President" – the nation soon will get used to hearing the title.

One week before Election Day, when people were due to march to the polls to cast their ballots for -- or, as the pollsters tell us, AGAINST Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump for President -- Dan Haar, business editor and columnist for the Hartford Courant, found himself in the lion’s den and, like Samson in Holy Scripture, began to layabout with his jawbone.

The Talk of Connecticut Election Luncheon audience was prepared to accept Donald Trump as a flawed candidate. It’s a safe bet that the majority in the audience felt Democratic Presidential nominee Hillary Clinton had not received her due share of the lumps.  Mr. Haar, his chest expanding to the ball, came to read Mr. Trump out of the human race. Here is a partial transcript of some questions put to Mr. Harr and his answers:

Saturday, November 05, 2016

The Final Daze


Most of us will be happy/sad when the national presidential campaign is finally tucked into bed. It has been a wearying 20 months. Ted Cruz began the show by throwing his name into the presidential ring way back in March 2015. Hillary Clinton, the Lucretia Borgia of the Democratic Party, announced a month later in April. Donald Trump, the Genghis Khan of Republican contenders, announced two months after Mrs. Clinton in June. Mr. Trump’s announcement was followed by shrieks of laughter; but, as the philosopher says, he laughs best who laughs last. Not only has the American campaign season lacked substance and manners, it lasted far too long, a boon for the media that seek to keep us aroused while it is hauling in cash by the truck load.