Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Malloy, Barnes Get Religion


"The Future ain't what it used to be" -- Yogi Berra

Ben Barnes, Governor Dannel Malloy’s budget guru, is a late convert to reality. But having overcome the progressive stiffness in his joints, Mr. Barnes, now rising from his knees, has got economic religion. One hopes that Mr. Barnes’ conversion to common sense rubs off on his boss.

Last June, pointing to an under-performing economy battered by a quarter century of mounting tax increases and tortuous federal and state regulations, Mr. Barnes explained to an astonished gaggle of news reporters that Connecticut should get used to frequent deficits. Even this partial confession astounded some members of Connecticut’s media who perhaps had been wondering why nearly all of the “balanced budgets” submitted by Mr. Malloy to a Democratic dominated General Assembly so quickly unbalanced themselves once Election Day had passed.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Is The Pope Catholic?

Catholics will recognize the caption above – “Is The Pope Catholic?” – as a joke punchline. Some non-Catholics, and even some laypeople who self-identify as Catholics, must wonder, on reading some encyclicals with which they heartily disagree, “Should the Pope be just a trifle less Catholic?”

It would suit progressives, for instance, if the Pope would be so good as to repeal thousands of years of Catholic teaching on abortion. No matter the Pope of the moment, this will happen only when Hell freezes over. But progressives welcome the present Pope’s views on climate change and capital punishment, while on the right, such views are anathema. Pope Francis’ antipathy toward raw capitalism cheers such as socialist Bernie Sanders, who is running for President this year, as well as President Barack Obama who, during welcoming ceremonies at the White House, extravagantly praised the Pope on his resemblance to himself. Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery but, however flattering, imitation falls far short of self-praise, which is always intensely sincere.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

The Conscience Of A Progressive


In three large Connecticut cities, incumbent Democratic mayors were drubbed by primary challengers. Hartford’s Mayor Pedro Segarra was outhustled and outspent by Democratic Party endorsed challenger Luke Bronin, formerly general counsel for two years to Governor Dannel Malloy. In Bridgeport, Connecticut’s largest city, former Mayor and felon Joe Ganim defeated Mayor Bill Finch in a three-way primary. And in New London, Mayor Darryl Finzio, more progressive than Leon Trotsky, lost to Councilman Michael Passero.

One publication noted that the primary defeats of the three incumbent Democratic mayors indicated a “hunger for change” in cities long dominated by the Democratic Party. Three questions arise: What changes are in the minds of Democratic voters who turned a frozen face to incumbents? To what extent is change possible within cities dominated for decades by a single party? And why has the hunger for change not moved more voters towards the Republican Party?

Friday, September 18, 2015

Upstairs, Downstairs In Connecticut


On slow news days – especially when the state legislature is out of session and everyman’s life, liberty and property is a bit safer from despoliation – some newspaper in Connecticut is bound to run a story on the state’s “wealth gap,” the always intolerable difference between the assets of Greenwich hedge fund managers and city dwellers hedged about by poverty, crime and cultural dissolution.

The wealth gap in Connecticut is large because the poor, despite years of Great Society programs, are still poor, and the rich are still rich. Quick now: Which has been the least successful national policy, the war on drugs or the war on poverty? The stairway connecting Heaven, Connecticut’s upstairs, and Hell, the state’s downstairs, is long but gilded at the top. The underlying assumption of all such stories is that the poor are poor BECAUSE the rich are rich. It follows that if a compassionate government were able to even the scales by redistributing wealth from rich Paul to poor Peter, life would be more equitable and just and, as an incidental benefit, there would be fewer wealth gap stories. No one on the distribution end of the war on poverty seems to notice that poverty and the wealth gap march forward in tandem.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Killing Capital Punishment In Connecticut


The old saw has it that “exceptions prove the rule.” They prove the rule precisely because they are exceptions.

In Connecticut’s politicized Supreme Court, exceptions have BECOME the rule. That is what happened when Justice Richard Palmer constructed his decision on the Constitutionality of Connecticut’s death penalty on a dissent in Glossip v. Gross, a case in which a challenge to the death penalty on Constitutional grounds had been denied by the U.S. Supreme Court, which upheld Oklahoma’s lethal injection protocol. The decision was a narrow one, but Justices Stephen G. Breyer and Ruth Bader Ginsburg managed in their dissent to import larger issues.

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Blumenthal Says Yes to Iran Deal, Issues Manifesto

U.S. Senator Dick Blumenthal announced he would vote in favor of the Obama/Kerry/Khamenei deal on the very day President Barack Obama had acquired enough votes in Congress to assure that any veto override would not occur.

Mr. Blumenthal has issued a manifesto supporting his decision, a convoluted thousand word media release that quickly collapses from its own internal stresses.

Mr. Blumenthal supports the deal because he prefers diplomacy to war – even, it would appear a diplomacy that enriches Iran and winks at the likely nuclearization of the Middle East.

Friday, September 04, 2015

Senator Chris Murphy And The Enemies Of The Good


By redefining a treaty – a major foreign policy agreement among more than one nation – as a “deal” President Barack Obama spared himself the necessity of acquiring a majority of Congressional votes to affirm the non-treaty. His redefinition presses a finger down on one of the scales of justice. A treaty would have required a two-thirds vote of approval from the U.S. Congress. Mr. Obama’s initial plan, it may be recalled, was to treat the Obama/Kerry/Khamenei deal as a simple agreement that required NO Congressional approval at all.  The present arrangement serves much the same purpose: It lowers the approval bar and creates the illusion of majority assent on what is, for all practical purposes, a treaty that, for political reasons, has been redefined to secure Congressional affirmation.

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Connecticut At The Crossroads


The following address was given to the Wallingford Rotary at IL Monticello Restaurant in Meriden on Sept 2.

I want to thank Mark Davis for inviting me to speak to you today. As you know, he’s been involved in the Wallingford Rotary for years. After you’ve put in productive years with Rotary, you acquire bragging rights, and this Rotary has much to boast of. Mark doesn’t hold back. He and others regard Rotary as the best volunteer social organization in the country and he’s proud to associate with this  Rotary in particular, which started in 1923 and has given nearly a million dollars in grants to nonprofits. You are to be congratulated on your energy, business intelligence and community concern.