Sunday, June 30, 2013

Sandy Hook And The Data Trap Updated


This is a self interview
Q: I’ve now read everything you’ve written about the Sandy Hook mass murders, quite a lot [Here sorted by date]. I’ve noticed two things: You have not weighed in on what some people might consider the central legislative issues, the “should” questions – should certain weapons be banned, that sort of thing; and throughout your commentary, you manage to sound like a Jeremiah on what some grey heads in the journalism business use to call “freedom of information.” Is that a right reading of the main thrust of your commentary on Sandy Hook?

Thursday, June 27, 2013

What The Court Did And Did Not Say About Gay Marriage


It is extremely important to understand what the U.S. Supreme Court did AND DID NOT say concerning two cases it reviewed involving gay marriage.

In neither case did the court issue a finding on the constitutionality of gay marriage.

In a case involving Proposition 8 in California, a legally binding ballot initiative that banned gay marriage, the court declined to make a judgment and tossed the tennis ball back to a lower court. The issue before the court was whether the supporters of the Proposition 8 ballot initiative had legal "standing" to defend it in court after state officials had declined to appeal a finding issued by a lower court against the ballot initiative. The court ruled that those challenging the lower court decision had no legal standing to do so. 

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

CT's Loss is SC's Gain

CTNews Junkie reports:

PTR, a Bristol-based semi-automatic weapons manufacturer, started looking at a move south when the state made the sale of its guns illegal in Connecticut following the massacre of 26 people at an elementary school in Newtown.


Monday, June 24, 2013

Welcome to 1991. Is It The Revolution Yet?


 
In 1991, then Governor Lowell Weicker was facing a stubborn billion dollar deficit that had been left on his doorstep by retiring Democratic Governor William O’Neill, an opponent of a state income tax that had first been publically proposed by Bill Cibes in a Democratic Party primary.

Running for the Democratic Party nod against Bruce Morrison, Mr. Cibes argued that the deficit and Connecticut’s parlous economic climate made it impossible for the state to raise the sales tax, then among the highest in the nation, or business taxes. An income tax was inevitable. ''The public,” Mr. Morrison retorted, “should beware of people who want to increase their taxes and call it reform.”

Friday, June 21, 2013

Murphy Among the Lilliputians


Seasoned members of the U.S. Senate may be forgiven if they think U.S. Senator Chris Murphy, elected to the Senate only five months ago, is a bit of an upstart. It is an unwritten rule in that august body that newly arrived Senators should be seen but not heard until they’ve paid their dues for a year.

In the past two years, Connecticut lost two Senators of longstanding, Chris Dodd and Joe Lieberman, who were replaced by Democrats Dick Blumenthal and Chris Murphy, both of whom in the last six months have been vigorously pressuring their brethren to vote into law a much watered down version of Connecticut’s recently adopted gun law.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

When Is a Fetus a Baby?


U.S. House members Rosa DeLauro and Elizabeth Esty, the congresswomen from Planned Parenthood, are mightily disturbed by a bill that passed the House that would ban abortion once the fetus is older than 20 weeks, except in rape cases or those in which the life of the mother was at risk.

The bill cuts off abortions after 20 weeks because it is at that point that the child in the womb can feel pain.

Ayres on Obama


Real Clear Politics picked up Bill Ayres, drove him around the block and asked the unapologetic terrorist whether he thinks Mr. Obama should be tried for war crimes. The answer, Mr. Ayers said, was “Absolutely!” Mr. Obama has yet to be driven around the block or asked what his current feelings towards Mr. Ayres are.

Mr. Obama has always claimed that his acquaintance with Mr. Ayres was fleeting and unimportant, a characterization some questioned. Their putatively historically “accurate” autobiographies are both larded with fictitious characters and episodes. Mr. Obama recovered politically from his momentary alliance with Mr. Ayres -- the publisher of “Prairie Fire,” a communist manifesto -- who also recovered from his disreputable past. Presently, Mr. Ayres is a celebrated pedagogue, a follower of Paulo Frere, author of “The Pedagogy of the Oppressed," a book that had a certain revolutionary cachet in the post Woodstock era and was thought by some to have ushered in decades of educational destruction.

Monday, June 17, 2013

More Taxes On The Way, Connecticut’s Receding Tide


Now that Republicans have been cut out of the budget loop by Governor Dannel Malloy and progressive leaders in the General Assembly, future budgets will be assembled by Mr. Malloy, tax hungry progressives in the state legislature, SEBAC, a coalition of union leaders authorized to negotiate contracts with the state, and economists at the tax gobbling University of Connecticut (UConn).

According to a story that ran in CTNewsJunkie, “Economists at the University of Connecticut recommended Thursday looking at instituting a statewide property tax to close more than $1 billion funding gap in the state’s education cost sharing formula.”

In the UConn report, contributing economist Stan McMillen notes that Connecticut has underfunded its statutorily required share of educational funding to municipalities for the last 5 years by about $1.09 billion. The UConn report weighs a few gap filling options, including a sales tax increase to 8.3 percent and a boost in the income tax of 13.8 percent, although the report seems to favor the statewide property tax as an “outside the box” solution to the problem.      

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Life After Politics


Former Connecticut U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman has shown that there is life after politics.

The usual route for departing Beltway politicians is to associate themselves with a large law firm in some lobbying or quasi-lobbying capacity, thereby softening for the clients of the firm the burdensome laws and regulations they had so assiduously created as congressman.

Former U.S. Senator Chis Dodd managed to escape the mold somewhat when, after having left the Congress, he hitched his star to Hollywood. The author of the imponderable Dodd-Frank bill, so compendious that we still don’t know “what’s in it,” to borrow a phrase from Mr. Dodd’s compatriot in Congress, former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Dodd is now busily engaged in attempting to convince his former associates to do something – anything! – about Chinese violations of U.S. copyright laws. Since former President Richard Nixon first touched glasses with mass murderer Chairman Mao Zedong in Beijing in 1972, the Chinese have busied themselves by stealing American technology and hacking into pretty much any business in the United States that may survive the Dodd-Frank boa constrictor.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Early Endorsements For The Greenberg Campaign

Mark Greenberg has been putting holes in his shoes since he last announced his candidacy for the U.S. House in Connecticut’s 5th District.

Although the 2014 election is 17 months in the future, Mr. Greenberg already has issued some impressive endorsements.

"I am proud that so many leaders are supporting my campaign against Elizabeth Esty in the 5th Congressional District," Mr. Greenberg said. "These local and statewide leaders understand that Connecticut and our country cannot continue to follow the trail Obama and the Congressional Democrats are plodding down - a trail that has led only to economic stagnation, bigger government, and unprecedented intrusions on our liberties."

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Winsley Wants GOP Chairman Post


Take any group of political activists, put them together for a few years, shake well and you will get a brass band marching in several directions to the beat of each individual drum. This pretty much describes the tendency of any party central committee where entropy is king. Entropy, the inherent dissipation of useful energy, is a part of the natural process. In any machine, even a party machine, the accelerations of shocks of the moving parts represents what the mathematicians call losses of “moments of activity.”

The Republican Party in Connecticut has been missing “moments of activity” for quite some time. Many people, perhaps unjustly, point to party chairmen, convenient scapegoats, as being chiefly responsible for an entropy that left unchecked may ultimately result what physicists call “the state of maximum entropy,” which is a euphemism for – death.

There are three things the Republican Party must do to win elections: 1) get votes, 2) get money and 3) refine its message in such a way as to achieve 1 and 2.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The Donovan Sting


It is now pretty obvious that former Speaker of the House Chris Donovan was the intended subject of a political sting operation conducted by the FBI in Connecticut in order to expose a pay-to-play scheme involving roll your own smoke shop owners who wished to kill a bill that would have imposed on them the same crippling taxes levied on cigarette manufacturers.

Several associates of Mr. Donovan, most notably his finance chairman, were caught in the net, but the big fish got away. If the prosecution of possibly corrupt lead political actors is the test of a successful sting operation, this one failed.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Republican Prospects


During the last presidential election, Republicans put up against a popular president a candidate, Mitt Romney, who had a deep and admirable political and business history. Republicans were surprised when President Barack Obama, perhaps the most progressive political candidate since progressivism was showcased in a serious way in the 1912 national election, walked back into the Oval Office unruffled and unscathed.

The election was supposed to have pivoted on the economy – stupid. Instead, a majority of voters, overlooking economic indicators that almost certainly would have sunk the prospects of a lesser candidate, were persuaded to give Mr. Obama a second chance.

For Republicans, the “take-away” from the election ought to have been: Social issues trump economic issues – stupid.

Sunday, June 09, 2013

Seven Snowballs In Hell


Apparently, snowballs do have a chance of not melting in the fiery furnace. A Hartford paper reported over the weekend that all seven members of Connecticut’s U.S. Congressional Delegation have “offered sharp criticism after newspapers revealed the administration’s sweeping government surveillance programs, which monitor cellphone and internet traffic in the name of national security.”

U.S. Representative Jim Himes, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, thought the monitoring program was too intense and overbroad: “I feel like the government is breaking all kinds of precedent here in increasing the intensity of its surveillance. There's a balance to be struck and generally it feels like we have lost that balance in favor of over-intrusive investigation and [data] collection."

Having opposed covert national security operations during the administration of George Bush, U.S. Senator Chris Murphy had little choice but to object to the expansion of the program under President Barack Obama. Not to do so would have been to expose oneself to charges of hypocrisy. In the Christian ethical sphere, there are seven deadly sins; among journalists, there is only one – hypocrisy.

Saturday, June 08, 2013

Cloutless Connecticut


Seniority equals clout in the U.S. Congress. New senators and congressmen entering the portals of the U.S. Capitol are expected to be seen and not heard for their first year in office. Both Connecticut’s U.S. Senators are new arrivals.

Senator Richard Blumenthal, who appears to be having a problem shedding his past as Connecticut’s Attorney General and the state’s chief consumer advocate, has passed his first year blinking as the world slid by. After a couple of years in the Senate, he may now be prepared to open his beak and sing a song. Political watchers in Connecticut are hoping the melody will not be freighted with bills he wished he had been able to enact as attorney general. Connecticut’s senior senator, now that both Joe Lieberman and Chris Dodd have left the premises, has not favored his favorite newspapers back in Connecticut with his exhaustive opinions on a raft of recent nettlesome issues, including the destruction of the U.S. embassy in Benghazi and the murder of Libyan Ambassador Chris Stevens and other Americans, the growing U.S. deficit, the recent bombing by Israel of Hamas military emplacements in Gaza and other issues much in the media. Perhaps after his year of sequestration the state’s senior senator will be more forthcoming on, to mention just one sore pressure point, the economic collapse of Europe.

Friday, June 07, 2013

And Now, the Campaign


Almost immediately after Governor Dannel Malloy and Democrats in the General Assembly had put their budget to bed, a Hartford paper noted that however much lipstick Democrats put on the budget porker it was in many important respects still a pig.

Another media resource noted that while the governor had indicated he had been faithful to his earlier promise to hold the line on taxes – but not, tellingly, on spending – the new budget, Mr. Malloy’s second, placed new limits on tax credits, extended expiring taxes, boosted the gasoline tax 4 cents per gallon, drained from the transportation fund $120 million collected at the pumps during the last two years, depositing the money targeted for transportation needs into the general fund, resorted to $550 million worth of fund raids to plug holes in the budget, borrowed about two thirds of the $1.2 billion necessary to convert to a GAAP accounting system and shifted a little more than $6 billion of Medicaid spending from a constitutional capped budget so as to draw down an otherwise embarrassing deficit. 

And so the budget session ended -- in magic tricks of a kind once derided by Mr. Malloy and the Malloyalists.

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

The Democratic Partisan Backroom


Begin with the assumption, common among most journalists, that the principal purpose of the media is to provide people with the data necessary to form right political judgments, a theme that runs like a hot wire though most classic defenses of freedom of the press, including John Milton’s Areopagetica, a speech addressed by Milton to the English parliament subtitled “For the Liberty of UNLICENC'D PRINTING, To the PARLAMENT of ENGLAND.”

“This is true Liberty when free born men
Having to advise the public may speak free,
Which he who can, and will, deserv's high praise,
Who neither can nor will, may hold his peace;
What can be juster in a State than this?”

Milton’s speech was ignored by the parliament of his day but later made its way through the schools as a classic defense of free speech rights. It may still be taught in journalism classes; but if not, inquiring minds may pick it up on the internet.

Monday, June 03, 2013

Democratic Arrogance And The Budget


Having raised taxes during his first term by $1.5 billion, the largest tax increase in state history, Governor Dannel Malloy is now poised to sign a biennial budget the bottom line of which is either $36.6 billion or $44 billion, according to CTMirror. Over two years,” CTMirror reports, “the new budget would spend $44 billion, based on the current method for reporting Medicaid spending,” a true figure of expenses now hidden behind an iron mask of gimmickry.

Democrats in the General Assembly – Republicans by design were excluded in the construction of both Mr. Malloy’s budgets – this year engaged in the most costly gimmick in state history, moving upwards of $6 billion in Medicaid costs outside the state’s constitutional cap, a sleigh of hand that makes a fiction of both the cap and the constitutional voice of all the citizens in Connecticut, whatever their political affiliation.

Saturday, June 01, 2013

Losing Iraq


Those who believe that President Barack Obama had put Al Qaeda to flight, conveniently, before and during his presidential election, had better pay attention to this Institute for the Study of War update. The ISW usually gets it right, while Foggy Bottom, nearly always tied to the apron strings of any current administration, gets it wrong.
Al Qaeda is on the upswing everywhere in the Levant – even in Iraq, where the United States spent its treasure in blood, sweat and tears trying to sow democracy in the area. There, too, Al Qaeda is active, and Iraq may be up for grabs.

“Escalating violence in Iraq crossed a new and very dangerous threshold this week.  Al Qaeda in Iraq launched a concentrated wave of car-bomb and other attacks specifically against civilian Shi'a targets in and around Baghdad.  Shi'a militias are mobilizing and have begun a round of sectarian killings facilitated by false checkpoints, a technique characteristic of the 2006-2007 period.  Prime Minister Nuri al Maliki has taken a number of steps to demonstrate that he remains in control of the situation.  The expansion of Shi'a militia activity, however, is likely to persuade many Iraqis that he is either not in control or is actively abetting the killings.  The re-mobilization of Shi'a militias in Iraq coincides with the formal announcement by Lebanese Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah of his organization's active military participation in the Syrian civil war.  Al Qaeda in Iraq's sectarian mass-murder attacks coincide with the announcement by AQI's affiliate in Syria, Jabhat al Nusra, that attacking Hezbollah is that group's primary target henceforth.  The stage appears to be set not merely for the collapse of the Iraqi state into the kind of vicious sectarian killing and sectarian cleansing that nearly destroyed it in 2006 and 2007, but also for the expansion of that sectarian warfare throughout both Mesopotamia and the Levant.”