Monday, March 20, 2017

Tail-Gunner Blumenthal vs. Gorsuch



U.S. Senator Dick Blumenthal was mentioned early in March in connection with the nomination to the Supreme Court of Judge Neil Gorsuch, described by The Hill, not a far right publication, as “a conservative judge who has attracted praise from both sides of the aisle.” Gorsuch, if his nomination passes muster with the U.S. Congress, will be replacing Justice Antonin Scalia, widely regarded as a conservative member of the court.

Should Democrats fail to oppose Gorsuch with the proper vigor, progressives warn they will turn their big guns on them.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Malloy’s Trickle Up Prosperity Doesn’t Work


“First Five” agreements between Governor Dannel Malloy and preferred companies such as Alexion Pharmaceuticals Inc., thought to be a “major player in Connecticut's fledgling bioscience industry,” are non-enforced whenever Mr. Malloy chooses not to enforce paper tiger contracts.

About a year ago, Alexion moved from Cheshire into its new headquarters in New Haven, the 23 mile move having been facilitated by the usual “First Five” contractual agreement. The package delivered to Alexion’s doorstep by a grateful governor included a $6 million grant, a subsidized $20 million loan transformed into a gift provided Alexion had 650 workers in Connecticut by 2017, and tax credits worth in the neighborhood of $25 million.

Monday, March 13, 2017

The Art Of Malloy’s Union Deal, Rowland All Over Again


Keith Phaneuf of CTMirror, who rather enjoys letting cats out of bags, remarks in a recent column that Governor Dannel Malloy will have some leverage in his negotiations with unions next time around. These negotiations materially affect state budgets. While it is true that the governor’s constitutional responsibility ends with his presentation of his budgets to the General Assembly, the Democrat dominated body has been anxious in the past to satisfy its constituency, the most politically active part of which is state employee union members.

In the past, the strife between Mr. Malloy and  SEBAC, the union conglomerate authorized to make deals with the governor – but not, significantly, with Republican legislators constitutionally charged with writing and balancing budgets-- has been something of a kabuki theater, featuring fierce, masked players swinging wildly at each other with paper swords. After the governor presents his budget to legislators, the budget often is reworked by legislators and then submitted to Mr. Malloy for his signature. During his first term, Republican leaders in the General Assembly having been sequestered, Malloy received from the Democrat dominated General Assembly plenipotentiary powers to make post-contract changes in the budget without bothering to resubmit the final product to the people’s representatives for approval. Mr. Malloy on that occasion took the political bullet for his Democratic pals in the legislature prior to an important election.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

What The Wise Men Of Connecticut Might Learn From The Wise Men Of Gotham


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In most fairy tales, the way out of the dark forest is the way in -- in reverse. Sometimes the hero of the story will take care when entering the bewildering forest to lay out the way back by leaving behind markers, beans strewn on the ground, so he will not forget the entrance and exit routes. The moral of all these tales is the same: if you’ve make a mistake, reverse your errors. It is a lesson politicians in Connecticut might take to heart. With a little courage and the virtue of foresight, the lucidity of remembrance brought to bear on current difficulties, there is no difficulty that cannot be overcome.

In a recent piece in National Review, senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute Stephen Eide gives us a summary view of Connecticut’s weaknesses. The top marginal income-tax rate in Connecticut now stands at 6.99 percent, Eide writes, “almost two points higher than the 5.1 percent in neighboring Massachusetts. The income tax has generated a flood of new revenues — $126 billion over 25 years, according to the Hartford-based Yankee Institute for Public Policy — but somehow state lawmakers neglected to direct adequate funds to the pension system. As a consequence, Connecticut’s state employees’ retirement system is funded at only 35.5 percent, one of lowest rates in the nation. Despite a slew of recent tax increases, state government now faces deficits of $1.5 and $1.6 billion in the next two fiscal years.”

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Blumenthal, Murphy And Trump

U.S. Senator Dick Blumenthal has not told us in his wanderings within Connecticut whether he believes the general run of citizens in his state feel safer or less safe with the presence in Connecticut of sanctuary cities. There are, at last count, three sanctuary cities in Connecticut: Hartford, New Haven and Willimantic. However, some state politicians have grand aspirations. State Representative Edwin Vargas of Hartford  put forward last January proposed bill 6709,  which would “amend state statutes to prevent the state police from demanding information concerning citizenship from individuals with whom they interact," in effect making the whole of Connecticut a sanctuary state, according to a story in the Hartford Courant.  And indeed, why not? If sanctuary is good for the people of Hartford, New Haven and Willimantic, how can it possibly be bad for the people of New Canaan?

The term “sanctuary city” has fallen into disuse lately. As is usual in politics, the thing is embraced, even as the word that best describes it is shunned. Some commentators have been howling that sanctuary, when it occurs anywhere but in a church, is a form of nullification, a practice infamously deployed by the Southern states during and after the Civil War to keep African Americans in bondage. This hubbub has caused a certain terminological retrenchment. Governor Dannel Malloy and some mayors now insist, sanctuary cities being illegal, that they are simply providing a “welcoming environment” for the wretched of the earth who have not bothered to observe immigration niceties. The advocates of sanctuary sometimes speak as if they wished they could drive an underground railroad from Mexico to New England and points north, legal immigration be damned.

Saturday, March 04, 2017

Lincoln Alive: His Relevance To Modern Politics

The address below was given at Meriden’s Fourth Annual Lincoln Day Dinner

The day is named after Abe Lincoln, and well named too. I suppose this year those attending these remarks will thank God – who else? – that they are not called upon to celebrate the Jefferson, Jackson Bailey Dinner, which used to be a day of feasting and merriment for Connecticut Democrats. This was before conscience stricken Democrats re-named their annual event. They did so because Democrats decided, three quarters of a century after President Jackson died, that he had owned slaves – who knew? -- and was not kind to American Indians. Though somewhat debased, Jackson, revered as a populist, is still regarded as the founder of the modern Democratic Party.

Thursday, March 02, 2017

Crime And Punishment In Connecticut

In Connecticut, some illegal aliens – an illegal alien being a non-citizen who has illegally entered the country and therefore is not, according to national and state laws, a lawful immigrant – commit crimes and remain un-deported.

Such was the case with Jean Jacques, a Haitian who entered the country illegally and later was arrested and convicted of attempted murder. Jacques spent seventeen years in Connecticut prisons and was supposed to be remanded on release to ICE, so that he might be deported. The deportation never occurred for reasons that remain fuzzy.

On his release from prison, Jacques murdered a young girl, Casey Chadwick, stabbing her to death fifteen times and depositing her body in a closet where she was discovered by her boyfriend. As of this date, we do not know how Jacques was permitted to fall between the cracks. ICE claims that Haiti disputed Jacques’ citizenship or did not have available the paperwork necessary to show that he was a Haitian citizen. Connecticut’s deportation process requires the state to hold deportable felons who have completed their sentences for no longer than 48 hours before turning them loose on the general public. We simply do not know in any detail whether Connecticut made strenuous efforts to assure Jacques’ deportation. We do know that the usual process - deportation upon release for serious felons -- failed in his case, with murderous consequences.

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Connecticut And The Coming Peasants' Revolt

If you can hold the line on taxes, you will have created an impetus within the laggard General Assembly for real, long-term cuts in spending, and it is spending, not insufficient revenues, that is driving state debt. The pantry at the Yankee Institute is full of ideas for permanent spending reductions, none of them palatable to progressive Democrats in the General Assembly. To no one’s surprise, rational cuts in spending will upset the status quo apple cart.

Most people in Connecticut might be surprised at some of the commuters riding in the cart. Progressives, of course, have their tickets punched, so they think, for the next fifty years. The central tenet of Connecticut progressives in the General Assembly, nearly all of them tied to the iron and inflexible apron strings of the state’s employee unions, is that government is good and more government is better; in order to finance this greater good, additional taxes will be necessary. That has been the operative principle among Democrats ever since former Governor Lowell Weicker drove an income tax pipeline from salaried workers' pockets to tax consumers in 1991. Big spenders in the General Assembly were very grateful to him, and Weicker had one of those personalities that luxuriated in public arousal. Like Obama, he was determined to save the peasants despite their hearty resistance to his bizarre ideas.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Malloy on The Tightrope


It is no secret that the members of Connecticut’s U.S. Delegation, nearly all progressive Democrats, are unalterably opposed to the Trump administration. Having lost the White House and both Houses of Congress, undeterred progressives never-the-less are progressing, and few are the Democrats willing to buck the “Never Trump” crowd.

Rep. Jim Himes, who fancies himself a Democratic moderate, called the first two weeks of Trump's presidency a “goat rodeo,” according to a Hartford Courant story.

Gary Rose, a political science professor at Sacred Heart University, is convinced Democrats in Connecticut are playing to their base: “I would say that for [the Connecticut delegation] to challenge the president, as they frequently are doing and will do, is probably bolstering their own standing within their base," Rose said. "And I think that they would probably, quite frankly, place themselves in a little ... political jeopardy if they were perceived as accommodating this president."

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.