Sunday, April 23, 2017

Diversity Among Change Resistant Democrats

Leading Democrats are not without ideas, but they are the old, tried and failed ideas. Rarely do Democrats mention the devil words “permanent spending cuts” in any of their political prescriptions. For nearly the entire Malloy administration, they have been desperately trying the usual fixes: check the battery, change the oil, don’t forget the filter, but the engine won’t turn over, and more taxes won’t make it go.

Democrat Jason Rojas of East Hartford, the finance committee co-chairman over at Spend Central, Hartford’s General Assembly, is certain, according to an item in a Hartford paper, “‘There's a pretty broad diversity of opinion’ among lawmakers about how to tackle the state deficit.” And of course, he’s right. The category “lawmakers” embraces both Republicans and Democrats, usually at loggerheads with each other concerning what ails the state and how best to fix it. But the ruling party – Democrats have controlled the General Assembly for a half century, and they have held the governor’s office for almost eight years – have not been willing to entertain Republican ideas during this little ice age; and so, we cannot reasonably assert that there has been a diversity of action, or even actionable debate, among lawmakers in Hartford.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Soundings: April 2017

“If you don’t know where you are, how can you get to where you’re going? That’s why you’ve got to take stock of yourself every so often” – a waitress to a customer in a diner.

Q: You’re getting on in years; isn’t it time for some sort of summing up?

A: I don’t see any pressing need.

Q: You’ve written a great deal about politics in Connecticut…

A: … most of it lying dead in newspaper morgues…

Q: Maybe so, but a record has been established in Connecticut Commentary for those who wish to consult it. Has anything changed because of your writing?

Friday, April 21, 2017

Connecticut’s Coming Primary Circus

Governor Dannel Malloy assured Connecticut’s Democratic Party, early on in the political season, that he will not be running for a third term. Democrats are rather hoping this may somewhat deflate the Republican march to the governor’s office. There are two groups that have been running against Mr. Malloy during his two terms: Republican gubernatorial hopefuls patiently awaiting the moment Mr. Malloy would throw his hat in the ring once again, and Mr. Malloy himself, whose progressive political prescriptions have curdled. His own worst enemy, Republicans will sadly bid Mr. Malloy good-bye.

Not so Democrats. Mr. Malloy’s not unexpected announcement has thrown wide the door to multiple possibilities. Perhaps the most amusing is the non-announcement of Democratic President Pro Tem of the Senate, Martin Looney, who was asked if he had plans to enter the gubernatorial race. Mr. Looney did have such plans, but they were narrowly circumscribed by conditions: if Mr. Malloy would do Mr. Looney the courtesy of leaving office before his term expired, launching Lieutenant Governor Nancy Wyman into the governor’s seat; and if Ms. Wyman were to decline to run as governor; and if Jupiter were perfectly aligned with Mercury, bringing in the Age of Aquarius – then Mr. Looney might consider running for governor.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Weicker Surfaces, Hartford’s Coming Bankruptcy

Former Governor Lowell Weicker surfaced recently and both condemned, unwittingly, and complimented lame duck Governor Dannel Malloy.

Every so often, Mr. Weicker, intent on working the dents out of his legacy, pokes his head above the fox hole, scans enemy territory for a friendly face, and spills some political beans. Ken Dixon of the Connecticut Post asked Mr. Weicker to comment on Mr. Malloy’s decision to pack it in, and he obliged. What Weicker said was, as usual, confusing and contradictory.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Save The Children: Malloy’s Finest Hour

At the beginning of April, Connecticut’s State Board of Education, by de-linking student evaluations and teacher performance, dismantled the last remnant of Governor Dannel Malloy’s valiant attempt to reform public school education.

For a long, long while it was touch and go. In most businesses – and public education is one of the state’s biggest Big Businesses -- the free market acts as a check on inferior products and services. If the widget or service produced by business A does not perform up to expectations, the purchaser will turn to A’s competitor, business B, and in due course business A will either be driven from the field or improve its product or service. This process, which insures improvement, does not apply to public education – a state monopoly that draws its financing from tax receipts. Only a governor or a legislature can deny public funds to inferior schools, and doing so – if you are a Democrat reliant on state employee unions for sustenance -- is a hazardous business.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Malloy Exits

There will be time, there will be time
To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet… 
Time for you and time for me, 
And time yet for a hundred indecisions, 
And for a hundred visions and revisions, 
Before the taking of a toast and tea – T.S. Eliot, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

In 20 months, reporters in the state will be referring to “former Governor Dannel Malloy.” On Thursday, Mr. Malloy announced he would be passing the gubernatorial baton to some other deserving Democrat, so he hopes. In the last few years, Republicans have made inroads into Connecticut’s one-party state. The State Senate is now evenly split between the two parties, and Democratic hegemony in the General Assembly has had one of its wings clipped.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Twain, Roosevelt and Imperialism

Teddy Roosevelt on Twain – “I wish I could skin Mark Twain alive.”

Twain on Roosevelt – “We have had no President before who was destitute of self-respect for his high office. We have had no President before who was not a gentleman; we have had no President before who was intended for a butcher, a dive-keeper or a bully...  Our people have adored this showy charlatan as perhaps no impostor of his brood has been adored since the Golden Calf, so it is to be expected that the Nation will want him back again after he is done hunting other wild animals heroically in Africa, with the safeguard and advertising equipment of a park of artillery and a brass band.

Occasionally, columnists back up against a thorny subject much in the way an innocent traveler in the woods backs up against a porcupine. The collision is often painful for both the porcupine and the columnist.

Although the deathless struggle between Twain and TR has been known for more than a century, it is rarely mentioned in print. Twain scholars know that Twain and TR were natural enemies on the matter of American imperialism, TR favoring the civilizing benefits of imperialism, always good for the native population and American businesses on the hunt for overseas markets, and Twain opposing it – strenuously.

Sunday, April 09, 2017

Understanding North Korea Through Dramaturgy

The U.S. military is sending the Vinson Strike Group, including the carrier and two guided-missile destroyers, to operate in the Western Pacific Ocean in response to Pyongyang’s recent missile tests. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, asked about the strike force, issued a terse statement: “The United States has spoken enough about North Korea. We have no further comment.”

Is this a post-Syrian bombing mission? Will the US take out North Korea’s missile launching sites, possibly with the unspoken concurrence of China?

Never let a bombing go to waste. There are some in the United States who think any such incident should be used to rid North Korea of that runty little totalitarian cock-of-the-walk who keeps his countrymen starved, in fear and at his knees. Since we only have one chance, they say, go for the clean sweep -- no more Kims.

Connecticut Commentary is reprinting an earlier piece about the Kims here. Best read with a glass of port.

Saturday, April 08, 2017

The Pretense Of Governing

The more corrupt the state, the more laws -- Tacitus

What’s the Matter With Connecticut?” the Wall Street Journal, a publication read by some business investors, asks in a recent editorial. Of course, the editors, businesses that have been fleeing the state, young college graduates who have been kicking the dirt of Connecticut from their feet and moving to less predatory states, all know the answer to the question: If you’re sitting on a bed of nails – you move. It’s the nails – or us! That is the central message young college graduates are sending to state government.

Here is the lede to the editorial: “Connecticut’s progressive tax experiment has hit a wall. Tens of thousands of residents are fleeing for lower tax climes, which has prompted Democrats to propose—get this—paying new college grads a thousand bucks to stick around. Maybe they’re afraid an exodus of young people will turn the state Republican.”

Friday, April 07, 2017

Klarides Pounds Democrats

The trouble with bad manners, Bill Buckley used to say, is that they sometimes lead to murder. This is true in more than a metaphorical sense. Murder, in addition to being a crime, also is a serious breach in morals and manners.

Frothing over with Democratic bumper sticker propaganda, Democratic State Representative Matt Lesser, addressing Republican Party opposition to what has been called “a pay equity bill” let loose on Republicans. Opposition to the bill, Mr. Lesser said, is “rooted in two things: ‘We’ve always done it,’ and bigotry.” Unfortunately for Mr. Lesser, Republican leader in the House Themis Klarides was within ear shot.