Saturday, February 27, 2016

How Many Vetoes Does Malloy Have In His Safe?



Projected revenue figures from Connecticut’s usually non-partisan Office of Fiscal Analysis (OFA) have been fairly accurate. The accuracy of figures produced by agencies used in assembling budgets is generally proportionate to the political independence of the number crunchers. And of course all figures utilized by partisans – especially during elections, which bend hard truths to suit the ambitions of the reigning power – should be viewed with a great deal of suspicion.

The figures most recently released by the OFA are balled fists.

This year’s budget could be in the red by as much as $266 million, a too frequent occurrence during the entire administration of Governor Dannel Malloy.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

On Trumpists and the Twitter President


Q: What do you think of the Donald Trump Presidential campaign so far? You haven’t said much about it in Connecticut Commentary, just two meager posts.

A: Connecticut Commentary is devoted to Connecticut politics. The Trump campaign is hugely successful. It will have been the third successful Presidential campaign we’ve seen in the last decade. The first two were campaigns run by President Barack Obama. In fact, some argue that the lame-duck President is STILL campaigning: He just can’t stop himself; success pulls him into the void.

Mr. Trump may be the first Twitter President. When the Borgias in the 15th and 16th centuries wanted to rid themselves of a pestiferous political opponent, they spiked his drink with poison, or they arranged to have brown-shirts meet him in the street to induce a change of mind with clubs and swords. American politicians needn’t go to all that trouble -- they have Twitter. Mr. Trump is a fabulous Twitterer. Here is Mr. Trump on the inoffensive Mitt Romney: “Mitt Romney, who totally blew an election that should have been won and whose tax returns made him look like a fool, is now playing tough guy.”

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Blumenthal Applies Judicial Thumbscrews To Gun Manufacturers

When George Jepsen moved into the office vacated by Attorney General Dick Blumenthal, he found files cluttered with old unresolved whistle-blower cases, 699 of them, all bubbling and boiling on back burners. Very quietly and without much fuss, Mr. Jepsen closed 513 of them. Mr. Jepsen at the time told the Associated Press that the number of cases he dismissed in which “something meaningfully wrong is going on,” was small. The mass of old cases spoke volumes about the methods employed by Mr. Blumenthal.

Step 1) summon – and sometimes recruit -- complainants; step 2) compile affidavits, some of which were ghost written and enhanced by Mr. Blumenthal’s staff; step 3) issue to a friendly media a torrid press release containing as yet unproven allegations; step 4) seize assets whenever possible; step 5) wait… one month… one year, two years… for the business under legal assault to collapse; step 6) when your victim has been impoverished to such a point that he can no longer afford adequate representation, make him an offer he can’t refuse.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Malloy Mugged By Reality


Malloy budget already in red
It’s been some time coming, but Governor Dannel Malloy, now tripping around the state selling his “austere” budget, is showing signs that he has been mugged by reality.

He says it himself, bluntly and without the usual sugar topping: “… there is a certain reality. The nation’s gross national product last quarter grew by .7 percent – .7 percent. And there has been volatility in the stock market going back to June of last year. And that revenue is falling, not rising. That’s the reality.”

The tax-increase solution to disappearing revenues has been tried and found wanting. Numerous times during his two terms in office Mr. Malloy has been forced to rely on his rescission authority to sop-up the red ink in numerous budgets. Raising taxes, Mr. Malloy said at the somber gathering in Middletown, would be ill advised. Mr. Malloy already has imposed two massive tax increases on his tax bludgeoned state, and still death is knocking on Connecticut’s door. As of this writing, Mr. Malloy's current budget is $12.8 million in arrears. Frequent rescissions have not settled the problem of escalating deficits. Then too, elections are rounding the corner; raising taxes a third time in an election year would be foolhardy: “I don’t think there is a desire to raise taxes at the State Capitol.”

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court Antonin Scalia RIP

Publisher’s note: Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court Antonin Scalia graciously appeared at Wesleyan University in March of 2012. My nephew, David Pesci, author of Amistad, was partially responsible for coaxing Mr. Scalia to speak, not an impossible task. Mr. Scalia was at home in the lecture circuit. It was a memorable occasion for all in attendance. I wrote it up as a column at the time and still remember how gracious he was, both in his presentation and in his interactions with questioners. Some Supreme Court decisions change the law; indeed, one of the purposes of the Supreme Court is to make certain that laws passed by legislators conform to the Constitution. Mr. Scalia changed the way all judges arrive at their decisions, and by so doing he will have left his mark on the ages.

Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court Antonin Scalia is perhaps the nation’s foremost advocate and interpreter of orginalism, a mode of constitutional interpretation. The chief business of the Supreme Court, both originalists and non-originalists will agree, lies in Constitutional interpretation, a task that no Supreme Court justice may responsibly avoid.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Looney Attacks The Messengers Of Bad News


President Pro Tem of the State Senate Martin Looney, one of the top Democratic leaders in the Democrat dominated General Assembly, has accused loyal opposition Republicans of campaigning. Mr. Looney wrote in a Harford Courant op-ed, “It's one thing to mount a campaign; it's another thing to govern. The Democratic majority in the General Assembly is committed to the hard work of governing.”

Republican leaders in the General Assembly – excluded during Governor Dannel Malloy’s entire term in office, with one notable exception; they were admitted to vote for a hastily written gun control bill – would, and have, heartily agreed with one of the principal gate keepers in the law-making body: Bi-partisanship, flouted by Mr. Looney and Speaker of the House Brendan Sharkey for five years, is necessary for good governance.  Excluded by Democrats from budget making, Republicans have wandered in the dessert for five years, but now the door has been thrown open to them, according to Mr. Looney.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Connecticut’s All Democratic U.S. Congressional Delegation Says Nyet To Sanders


All the members of Connecticut’s U.S. Congressional Delegation, as well as the state’s progressive Governor, are supporting former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for President rather than the amiable Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont. Mr. Sanders is the grandfatherly, flower-child socialist who recently buried Mrs. Clinton in the nation’s first New Hampshire Democratic Party primary: Sanders 59, Clinton 38, a real whopping.

Some argue that returns from both the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary are indicative rather than definitive. Mrs. Clinton, who has as many cat-lives as Achilles heels, is expected to survive the Sanders drubbing. Lady Clinton has oodles of cash on hand, a wealth of down-and-dirty political campaign experience, a morally flawed ex-President husband, and the unenthusiastic backing of the Democratic Party establishment. Mr. Sanders has so far proven to be a worthy adversary, but there are cracks in the Sanders foundation that Mrs. Clinton seems well prepared to exploit in a general election in which the forward force is not directed by young, anti-establishment revolutionists whose dearest wish is to refashion the United States into a progressive utopia that best resembles post-Chavez Venezuela, technically a dream state, in reality a sulfurous smoldering ruin.

Monday, February 08, 2016

Reinventing Malloy

After paying court to Governor Dannel Malloy’s budget address, a eupeptic Republican noted that he sounded like Ronald Reagan. Another, unused to taking leaps of faith, said if only Mr. Malloy had done at the beginning of his term in office what he had said in his current budget address, we wouldn’t be in this fix.

General Electric’s leave-taking may have served as a splash of cold water in Mr. Malloy’s face. Aetna, it appears, may be looking for an exit. Sikorsky has been sold, and other insurance companies, in part reacting to a failing Obamacare, are commingling in an effort to cut costs. More than a quarter of the total number of 893,851 active professional physicians reported by the Kaiser Family Foundation have now declined to participate in the new plans under the Affordable Care Act, a number of states have declined to set up exchanges, and UnitedHealth Group, the nation's largest health insurer, having lost more than $500 million on exchange plans, warned last November that higher costs were pushing it out of the Obamacare market.


Friday, February 05, 2016

Mother Aetna’s Spoiled Children


Mark Bertolini CEO Aetna Humana
In Mario Puzo’s “The Godfather,” Michael Corleone, plotting to kill a crooked cop, says to his brother Sonny, “It's not personal, Sonny. It's strictly business.”

Ya’gotta do what ya’gotta do.

If Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini does move Mother Aetna’s home office from Hartford, Connecticut to Louisville, Kentucky’s largest city, he can also plead it’s only business. General Electric (GE) recently uprooted itself from Fairfield, Connecticut to Boston, Massachusetts – just business, nothing personal… please try to understand.

"We've done the analysis," Mr. Bertolini said five years ago, "and, quite frankly, Connecticut falls very, very low on the list as an environment to locate employees . . . in large part because of the tax structure, the cost of living, which is now approaching, all in, the cost of locating an employee in New York City.”

Such “hits,” to borrow the Mafia term, are not generally shouted from the rooftops. The possibility of dramatic uprootings are conveyed by subtle body language, a frown here, a warning word there, and threats so understated it would take a raw-nerved politician weeks to decode them.

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

The State Of The State – Crooked


“No one believes him anymore,” said Republican Assistant Minority Leader Senator Toni Boucher of Governor Dannel Malloy.

The lady doubtless has her reasons. Responding to Governor Dannel Malloy’s recent boast, “I have made it clear that I am not proposing the raising of any taxes and I oppose the raising of taxes across the board,” Mrs. Boucher said, a note of exasperation in her voice, “Where are they going to take the money from? You can’t be running hundreds of millions in shortfalls every year. It sounds like they want to withhold road and education aid to towns and cities. People are worried about the financial crisis and tolls and higher gas taxes and mansion taxes.”