Monday, May 22, 2017

Connecticut’s Hostages

The editors of a Hartford newspaper have begged, almost on their knees, state employee union leaders to accede to concessions in budget negotiations with Governor Dannel Malloy:

“Unions, Please Help

 “Connecticut has been kind to its public workers. Now is the state's time of need. Unions, won't you help the state out of financial crisis?

 “Unions, please be reasonable. The state is at stake.”

While the concessions will not greatly affect long-term spending, these pleadings are necessary for a number of reasons. Although the General Assembly is scheduled to finish shaping and approving a budget for Connecticut by closing time, June 7, the end-date really depends upon unions. “Unions Nearing Deal of Concessions,” a headline proclaims. However, “some union members say it is unlikely that the rank and file members of multiple unions,” represented by SEBAC, would be able to affirm contractual arrangements with Malloy by that date, “but a vote by the end of the fiscal year on June 30 is possible.”

Sunday, May 21, 2017

The Parable Of The Leaking Bucket

A short five minute address today -- Sunday, May 21, 2017 -- at the state capitol in Hartford

 I’ve been asked to say a few words about taxes, which has brought us here today. I should say it’s heartening to see gathered here many thoughtful, peaceful, responsible, tax-paying, non-deplorables. I only have fire minutes to review years of tax thuggery, and the best way do it is by means of a parable that might be called “The Parable of the Leaking Bucket.”

There is a hole in Connecticut’s milk bucket, and through it our precious revenues are leaking to other states. This disaster has now been confirmed by Department of Revenue Commissioner Kevin Sullivan and economist Don Klepper-Smith.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Blumenthal: I’m Ready For My Close-Up

In mid-May, David Hawkins of Roll Call threw a bouquet of compliments at U.S.  Senator Dick Blumenthal: “But Blumenthal’s profile has never been as prominent as in the past week, after he declared that the firing of James B. Comey as FBI director has created ‘a looming constitutional crisis that is deadly serious’ and ‘may well produce impeachment proceedings, although we’re very far from that possibility.’”

The reader will note Blumenthal's adjectives. A "looming' crisis cannot be "deadly." The "crisis” is "looming" because we cannot be certain it is a crisis, except in Blumenthal's fevered imagination. And if we are "very far” from the possibility of a crisis, in what sense may the crisis be fairly described as a crisis? Note the "may" standing guard over this sentence: the crisis "may well produce impeachment proceedings,” or the crisis – but is it a crisis? See above -- may yet produce egg on Blumenthal’s face. Once an editor of the Harvard Crimson, Blumenthal has been goosing the media his entire political life. And the left of center media, perpetually frightened of conservative bogeymen, has been sopping up Blumenthal’s tendentious assertions for as long as the Senator From Planned Parenthood has been in public life.  These are people who are supposed to be able to parse sentences and wring the nonsense out of them.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Diner Politics In Connecticut

People in Connecticut like their diners. There are no fewer than 28 all-night diners in the state. It’s where you go to shed your problems over an omelet and hash browns, accompanied by a fresh cup of coffee and, if you are lucky, the companionship of a friend or two. During election time, this holy solitude is broken by lean and hungry politicians on the hunt for votes who have turned out to mingle with the proletariat. Politicians too, it would appear, are just like the rest of us.

The most accomplished of them do not eat when they are conducting business. Imaging is important, just ask U.S. Senator Dick Blumenthal, about whom it is said that the most dangerous spot in Connecticut is between Blumenthal and a television camera. Politicians are more attentive to their weight than to their religious prescriptions, and because many of them are life-servers -- the average age of a member of Congress is 57 – caloric intake is more important to many of them as avoiding the near occasion of sin.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

A Month Of Irony

The last few weeks of 24-7 news has been dripping with unintended irony.

Just as the Democratic Party was setting up to attribute former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s loss to political stumble-bum Donald Trump as a result of President of Russia Vladimir Putin's interference in her campaign, President Trump bombed Bashir al Assad of Syria, Mr. Putin’s Kewpie Doll. The bombing served to mute some of the more outrageous claims. Everyone but Dick Blumenthal has been investigating the Trump-Putin connection; so far -- nada.

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

The Democratic Party Progressive Carousel

It’s a pretty safe bet that Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim may not be Connecticut’s next governor, now that current Governor Dannel Malloy has thrown in the sponge, opening the door to a handful of Democratic gubernatorial hopefuls panting behind the curtain.

Among the Democratic prospects are Mr. Ganim, elected mayor of Bridgeport four times before he was convicted of sixteen counts of corruption related activity, for which he spent seven years of a nine year sentence under lock and key. Other possible Democratic gubernatorial candidates are Comptroller Kevin Lembo, Middletown Mayor Dan Drew, former state Senator Jonathan Harris, Christopher Mattei, the  former Chief of the Financial Fraud and Public Corruption unit for the United States Attorney’s Office in the District of Connecticut who bagged former Governor John Rowland a second time,  and Lieutenant Governor Nancy Wyman who presently is playing it coy.

Thursday, May 04, 2017

What Do Progressives Want? -- More

The magic words among progressive Democrats in Connecticut’s General Assembly are “stabilize state finances.” It is an expression very much on the tongue of House Speaker Joe Aresimowitz, long affiliated with unions. Mr. Aresimowitz is employed as education coordinator for AFSCME. Last December, Connecticut’s Office of State Ethics (OSE) advised Mr. Aresimowicz that “nothing in the state ethics code bars him from continuing his job [with] an influential public-employee union once he becomes speaker of the House of Representatives.”

Apparently, the OSE is unfamiliar with the expression “putting the fox in charge of the hen house.”

Monday, May 01, 2017

The Luxury Of Being Murphy And Blumenthal

Commentators and the general public will have noticed the deep trench, very much like a moat, that separates national and state politics. This severe separation is most evident among a state’s congressional delegation. It is, primarily, an assumed division of labor that demarcates zones of political influence. Only rarely, if at all, do U.S senators and congressmen comment on state politics. It might be interesting, though politically fatal, to hear U.S. Senators Chris Murphy or Dick Blumenthal comment on the present dilapidated state of their state. This will not happen. It very rarely happens that Connecticut’s Washington Beltway senators and congresspersons are asked: “Do you think, as does Governor Dannel Malloy, that Connecticut’s perpetual deficits should be reduced by means other than revenue increases?” Or “About that new ballpark in Hartford – a blessing or a curse?”

Saturday, April 29, 2017

A Brief History Of The Destruction Of Connecticut

“The future ain’t what it used to be” – Yogi Berra

This year, as in other fiscal years, Governor Dannel Malloy’s Budget guru Ben Barnes has overestimated tax receipts. “Malloy Calls For Hiring Freeze  As Income Tax Collections Nose-Dive $450 Milliona recent story screams.

Such repeated miscalculations are odd, issuing from a man who not so long ago had been hit by a lightning bolt coming out of the blue. Following a painful Damascus Road unhorsing sometime back, Mr. Barnes told us that Connecticut would in the future have to get used to repetitive deficits – because the state’s economy was under-performing. After the fourth murder, even an amateur detective might begin to suspect a pattern had begun to develop and rule out happenstance.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Tax The Guy Behind The Tree

Don’t tax you. Don’t tax me. Tax that fellow behind the tree -- Russell Long

Connecticut has suffered – precisely the right word – from three massive tax increases.


The first was the 1991 Lowell Weicker Income Tax, which sent a clear message to contiguous states and businesses both inside and outside our borders: Connecticut has surrendered a no income tax hedge that had given it an advantage over bordering states such as New York and Massachusetts; and the state had committed itself to increases in taxation and spending. The Weicker body blow was repeated twice during the administration of Governor Dannel Malloy, approval rating 28 percent. Mr. Malloy, who lame-ducked himself last week, is the author of both the largest and second largest tax increases in state history.

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.

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Blumenthal’s Potemkin Village Objections to Gorsuch

At the end of March, U.S. Senator Dick Blumenthal announced in a Hartford Courant Op-Ed column that he “will vote against the nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch as United States Supreme Court Justice.”

His reasons for doing so do not bear close examination, but they correspond neatly to the reasons offered by other Democrats, demonstrating perhaps that Blumenthal is a reliable Democratic Party soldier who comes when he’s called and goes when he’s ordered to do so by U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer, the unacknowledged propaganda chief of  the party. Had Hillary Clinton won the presidency in her contest with Donald Trump, whose ideology is blurry, Blumenthal would be taking his marching orders from Mrs. Clinton. Alas, as the poet tells us, “the best laid plans of mice and men are often torn asunder.” Mr. Trump was elected President, the House and Senate were lost to Republicans, and Democrats have been choking on bile ever since.

Monday, April 03, 2017

Lieutenant Markley

The bad news, some conservatives in Connecticut will say, is that State Senator Joe Markley will not be running for governor. The good news is that Mr. Markley -- now representing the 16th Senatorial District, which includes the towns of Cheshire, Prospect, Southington, Wolcott and Waterbury – has announced he is running for Lieutenant Governor.

Why not governor? “When asked why he didn’t aim for the top office,” the Record Journal reports, “he said there are already many strong Republican candidates considering a run. I’m very interested in having some Republican elected as governor next year because we have to change direction in this state. I feel that this is the spot on the ticket where I can most be of service.”

Saturday, April 01, 2017

The Curse Of Victimology

Perhaps the governors of the states should hand out victimization certificates along with birth certificates because – when everyone is a victim, no one will be a victim, and that may help to put an end to the victimization of non-victims nonsense. Students at Yale, we have recently discovered, are victims. One may wonder whether a graduate of Yale or Harvard has been the more victimized. Are any of them more victimized than the fatherless children in Connecticut's shoot-up capitol city, Hartford, which a few months ago was proclaimed the murder capital of New England?

Everyone, it seems, wants to get in on the action. In academia, the victimization scam may end in the destruction of the liberties of scientists.

Among the most oppressed victims in the 21st century, we discover, is tortured Penn State University climatologist Michael Mann, who appeared before U.S. Congress at the end of March to declare himself victimized. Consider his bleeding wounds.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

“Time Is Running Out” -- Courant

Milton Friedman once said, “If you put the federal government in charge of the Sahara Desert, in five years there’d be a shortage of sand.” If you put socialists in charge of countries, you soon will create shortages of toilet paper, which is the case in Venezuela, reduced to rubble by Hugo Chavez and his successor Nicolás Maduro. No one was surprised last week when Bloomberg announced that rich Venezuelans are fleeing the country – now an economic desert – for more profitable ventures elsewhere: “Wealthy Venezuelans Are Seeking Haven in Madrid."

Something similar is happening in Connecticut. Tax money “invested” by Governor Dannel Malloy in Connecticut businesses is not working to create a welcoming business environment. “Once again, a Connecticut company making a major investment in its digital business has been lured by another state offering tax breaks and the chance to succeed in a big city,” the Hartford Courant tells us. This time it’s United Technologies (UTC), which recently “spun off” Sikorsky, an iconic Connecticut company sold a few months back to Lockheed Martin, headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland – which is more remote than Hartford, Connecticut, for the time being the headquarters of UTC. “United Technologies Corporation is looking to expand into New York City,” according to the Courant story, “UTC Picks New York City For $300 Million Expansion.”

Sunday, March 26, 2017

DeLauro, The Progressive Maenad Of The House

The Republican plan to abolish and replace Obamacare has now collapsed. After much huffing and puffing, Republicans pulled their replacement plan, such as it was, shook the dirt of medical care reform from their feet, and vowed to move on to the next big issue -- tax reform. One imagines U.S. Representative Rosa DeLauro, who made some frantically intemperate remarks in the House before the Republican replacement plane crashed and burned, was delighted.

U. S. Senator Elizabeth Warren, move over: Mrs. DeLauro has now become the chief progressive maenad of the U.S. Congress. She brought to her performance suitable demagogic props, a large sign that said “Get Old People,” the words arranged horizontally and the first letter of each word – G-O-P – in fierce bold script. C-Span captured the historic moment here. Mrs. DeLauro was not wearing her pussy hat at the time; so the members of the House were spared that indignity.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Suzio: Rapists and Violent Criminals Should Not Be Released Early

"There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics” – a remark attributed by Mark Twain to Disraeli

Len Suzio lost his seat to incumbent State Senator Dante Bartolomeo in a hard fought contest in 2014 by 1% of the vote and won the seat back in 2016 by 2.8 % of the vote.  His is a particularly difficult seat for Republicans; registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans in the 13th District roughly by a two to one margin. Think of Sisyphus rolling his stone up a perilously steep incline.

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

Image result for of drowning eels
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.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Malloy Not Anti-Gun, Pro Fee

Governor Dannel Malloy, the Record Journal reports, is not anti-gun. He has proposed raising pistol permit fees by $230; presently, fees are hovering around $50. He is pro-fee.  “I’m not anti-gun,’ Malloy said. “I have lots of friends who are hunters and I know lots of people who have guns.”

Following the slaughter of the innocents at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Malloy succeeded in passing a bill through Connecticut’s General Assembly rather quickly. The National Rifle Association (NRA), the bete noir of Malloy and Connecticut’s two U.S. Senators, Dick Blumenthal and Chris Murphy, protested as expected.

Following passage of an “assault weapons” ban among the most restrictive in the nation, Malloy appeared on CNN’s show “State of the Union” and fragged both the gun industry, some of it still operating in Connecticut, and the NRA. “What this is about,” said Malloy, “is the ability of the gun industry to sell as many guns to as many people as possible—even if they are deranged, even if they are mentally ill, even if they have a criminal background. They don’t care. They want to sell guns,” apparently to Malloy’s friends.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Lincoln Alive: His Relevance to Modern Politics.

I will be giving the key note address for the Meriden Lincoln Day event (see below). The address is titled "Lincoln Alive: His Relevance to Modern Politics." An excerpt follows:

" Studying the speeches of Lincoln – even his casual remarks – and comparing them with the sound-bite rhetoric of any modern politician you care to mention, one is forced to the conclusion that the Darwinian notion that a final product is more complex and perfect at the end of any developmental process is pure hokum. Only a political process that retains what is best and purifies our politics by speaking to the angels of our better nature can be called an improvement, a step forward toward beauty and perfection.”

I hope to see you there, but if you cannot attend, pass along the notice to others.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Malloy Through The Looking Glass

After Alice falls through the rabbit hole, she finds herself in an alternate universe in which right is left and up is down, a distorted mirror image of life in the real world. Along the way, she encounters the heartless Queen of Hearts who says to her, “First the verdict, then the trial.” She also meets Humpty Dumpty, who uses words variously to mean A and NOT-A, prompting this dialogue:

"When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less."
"The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean so many different things.’"
"The question is," said Humpty Dumpty, "which is to be master — that’s all."

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Real Reforms And Willful Blindness

Forbes magazine asked last March “Can Connecticut Be Saved?” The bone-crushing statistics provided were telling: “Connecticut’s job-growth rate is a meager 1.1%, compared with the national average of 5.1%. According to the Connecticut Department of Labor, the state’s unemployment rate is 5.5%, compared with a national average of 4.9%. Connecticut ranks among the top 10 states for net out-migration, losing 140,571 taxpayers in that same 10-year time period. And this trend can be tracked over several decades. Between 1992 and 2014, Connecticut lost $12.36 billion in annual adjusted gross income (AGI).”

Last July the Mercatus Center placed Connecticut number one among states having the worst fiscal conditions in the nation. So then, what can be done to pull Connecticut from its tailspin?

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Is Progressivism a spent bullet?

A Self-Interview February 2017 

Q: I’ve heard you say on Jim Vicevich’s radio program that progressivism as we’ve known it during the past few years of the Obama administration may be a spent bullet?

A: Yes and no.

Q: Give us the “yes” first.

A: Barack Obama is a spent bullet. Had Hillary Clinton been elected president, Obama might have had a brief afterlife. That did not happen; instead, the country turned, pretty resolutely and in anguish, to Donald Trump, the horse of a different color. The left continues to show its disappointment. Anarchists join a protest march at Berkley and succeed in storming a Starbucks; Trump’s cabinet nominations are delayed; and then there is that tar-bush speech by Elizabeth Warren in the course of which she quoted the late Edward Kennedy on U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions, recently appointed Trump’s attorney general. Quoting Kennedy, Warren said, "Mr. Sessions is a throwback to a shameful era which I know both black and white Americans thought was in our past. It is inconceivable to me that a person of this attitude is qualified to be a U.S. attorney, let alone a U.S. Federal judge. He is, I believe, a disgrace to the Justice Department and he should withdraw his nomination and resign his position.” Warren had violated a Senate rule of decorum and was ordered to leave the podium. A momentary media spasm erupted.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Trump No Jackson, Blumenthal no Louaillier

"We're careening, literally, toward a constitutional crisis. And he's [Judge Gorsuch] been nominated by a president who has repeatedly and relentlessly attacked the American judiciary on three separate occasions, their credibility and trust is in question" Blumenthal on CNN 

President Donald Trump is irascible and prone to childish fits of personal outrage, but his dealings with the judiciary are not quite as bloodcurdling as those of President Andrew Jackson, the founder of the modern Democratic Party.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Tail Gunner Dick

U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions soon will assume his duties as President Donald Trump’s Attorney General. His nomination was opposed by leading Democrats in the U.S. Congress chiefly because he was not Eric Holder.  At one point during his cross examination of Sessions, U.S. Senator and mud thrower from Connecticut Dick Blumenthal subtly suggested that Sessions might have a soft spot in his heart for the KKK. Blumenthal noted that Sessions had received some awards during his twenty years in the Congress, among them an award from the David Horowitz Freedom Center, Frank Gaffney's Center for Security Policy and the Federation for American Immigration Reform, the latter of which Blumenthal noted is classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, according to a story in the Washington Examiner.

"Given that you did not disclose a number of those awards,” Blumenthal asked, “are there any other awards from groups that have similar kinds of ideological negative views of immigrants or of African-Americans or Muslims or others, including awards that you may have received from the Ku Klux Klan?"

Thursday, February 09, 2017

Malloy’s Budget, Same Old, Same Old

If it were possible for Governor Dannel Malloy to transfer Connecticut’s debt backward to previous administrations, he would do so a New York minute. This being impossible, he has shifted blame for the state’s current indebtedness to preceding governors, absolving from adverse criticism, for some odd reason, former Governor Lowell Weicker, whom he rarely mentions as being a governor who had run up future debt by increasing taxes and spending.

Perhaps that is because Malloy himself has adopted Weicker’s strategy in attacking debt – raise taxes. Twice since he had been elected the first Democratic governor in twenty six years, Malloy has raised taxes, imposing on the state both the largest and the second largest tax increases in state history. The last Connecticut pre-income tax budget was about $7.5 billion; the current Malloy budget is nearly three times as large, every single penny of it having been appropriate from Connecticut’s real working party, middle class people mostly who uncomplainingly go off to work in in the morning, kiss their children good night in the evening, go off to working in the morning and pay their increasingly burdensome taxes.

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Answering Murphy’s Treacherous Open Arms, Empty Holster Foreign Policy Prescriptions

On Monday (February 6, 2017), the Harford Courant printed a long, 1335 word op-ed column written by U.S. Senator Chris Murphy that previously had appeared in the Huffington Post, “Trump’s Reckless Path Towards War.”

This is the lede to the column: “Since the inauguration, the White House has taken several ham-handed escalatory steps that bring into question whether Trump and his most radical advisers are begging for war with Iran. This would be a disaster of epic scale, perhaps eclipsing the nightmare of the Iraq War. Republicans and Democrats need to start viewing President Donald Trump's actions and words as a possible accidental or intentional prelude to major conflict, and take steps to counter this dangerous slide to war.”

Almost every sentence is parsable. Taken as a whole, the piece amounts to a pawn house of campaign talking points, none of which are new, all of which are doubtful. From Murphy’s view atop the progressive mountain, some of Trump's advisors appear radical. Point of view determines one’s place on the political spectrum.

Sunday, February 05, 2017

The Progressive Vortex: How State Government Will Help Towns To Destroy Their Budgets

It was Rahm Emanuel, then consigliore to the Obama administration, now mayor of crime infested Chicago, who once reminded us that clever Harvard educated politicians and street organizers should never let a crisis go to waste. Progressives in the General Assembly have wholeheartedly adopted Emanuel’s view.

In his most recent budget, likely unbalanced, Malloy will present to the General Assembly a progressive measure that would “shift $407.6 million, nearly one-third of the annual cost of municipal school teachers’ pensions, onto cities and towns — a move that would hit the state’s wealthiest communities the hardest,” according to CTMirror.

So some say. It is worth noting that the “progressive tax by other means” will draw down municipal resources, weaken town government and pave the way to a false solution: the replacement of town governments with a regional structure overseen by a state that, unlike municipal governments, is chronically incapable of balancing its own books. Once you allow the redistribution of educational funds inequitably, the progressive scheme may be applied progressively in other ways. The crisis in state government, for those operating on the Emanuel principle, need not lead to more responsible state government. The opposite is true: progressivism allows governing bodies to escape public scrutiny, expand powers executed irresponsibly and lay the blame for misgovernment on innocent parties.

Saturday, February 04, 2017

Democratic Untouchables: U.S. Attorney Shuts Down Malloy Criminal Grand Jury Investigation

U.S. Attorney Deirdre Daly has shut down a criminal Grand Jury investigation into questionable election funding by Connecticut’s Democratic Party, according to stories in multiple Connecticut papers.

 Democrats, one must suppose, are breathing a huge sigh of relief. Grand Jury investigations are always fraught with danger because they are Star Chamber proceedings in which attorneys generally are able to persuade jurors to support charges filed against defendants who are not permitted defense representation. The old joke is that a halfway capable U.S. Attorney would be able in a grand jury proceeding to convict a grapefruit of jaywalking.

Apart from a brief announcement that the grand jury had been shut down, Ms. Daly made herself unavailable for questioning. “A spokesman for U.S. Attorney Deidre M. Daly,” a Courant report read, “would not comment.”

The “no comment” means that answers to all the important questions will be buried with the decision not to prosecute.

Thursday, February 02, 2017

Towards Thermidore

Thermidore was the eleventh month in the French revolutionary calendar, derived from the Greek word “thermos,” which means hot. And it was hot indeed, particularly for the French monarchy. Heads rolled after a particularly severe bread shortage in Paris, which was caused by a monarchy inattentive to an overtaxed middle class about whom Marie Antoinette reportedly said “Let’em eat cake.” Poor Marie likely did not say it, but this did not prevent the French revolutionists from cranking out convincing propaganda or, as we are now pleased to call it “fake news.”

Connecticut may be approaching Thermidore, that point at which the patience of a majority of the people finally snaps.

CTMirror pretty much comes right out and says it in a readable series written by Keith Phaneuf, AS CUTS GET UGLY, LEGISLATORS FORFEIT POWER, TRANSPARENCY.” 

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Connecticut’s EPIC Dumbbell Award

“Reader, suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself” – Mark Twain

Connecticut’s Excellence in Political Idiocy Commission (EPIC), located in Vernon, Connecticut – rents in Hartford, the state’s failing Capital city, the Commission found, were much too prohibitive -- this year has bestowed its uncoveted Dumbbell Award to Democrats in Connecticut’s General Assembly.

There were, as always, runners-up.

While Republicans in Connecticut have made gains in the General Assembly during the past few sessions, it is clear they have miles to go before they sleep. Following the most recent elections, Connecticut’s state Senate is now tied, 18-18, and Republicans have steadily made gains in the House.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Blumenthal, The Senator From Planned Parenthood

In the matter of abortion, U.S. Senator Dick Blumenthal is all in.

The Senator, while he was for 20 years Connecticut’s Attorney General, was not known to shy away from prosecuting companies large and small that had violated some obscure regulation. He also had recommended regulations to Connecticut’s General Assembly if he found that a regulation would satisfy his own view of ethical commerce, much to the dismay of Connecticut companies already burdened with excessive regulations. When he moved from the Attorney General’s office to the U.S. Senate, Mr. Blumenthal left in his wake a trail of regulatory tears flowing down the cheeks of his commercial targets, which for years had found their assets diverted to court costs. His successor, Attorney General George Jepsen, almost immediately swept hundreds of such nuisance cases from the books.

Moving into the U.S. Senate, Mr. Blumenthal brought all his vices as Attorney General with him and soon acquired a reputation as Connecticut’s first consumer protection senator.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Looney’s Poison Pill For Democrats

“A budget deal that closely resembles the 2011 budget agreement,” will be good for what ails Connecticut, said Martin Looney, the President Pro Tem in the Connecticut Senate, according to an NBC Connecticut story. “A budget deal that closely resembles the 2011 budget agreement might be needed in 2017,” said Mr. Looney.

What ails Connecticut is excessive spending, pretty much everyone in the state now agrees – even Governor Dannel Malloy, who is responsible for both the largest and the second largest tax increases in state history. The first of Mr. Malloy’s tax increases was a not inconsiderable part of the 2011 budget deal that Mr. Looney would apply as a curative to Connecticut’s continuing ailments. Connecticut’s three major tax increases, the first promulgated during the administration of Governor Lowell Weicker, father of Connecticut’s income tax, served as political balm to union friendly governors and legislators. The tax increases relieved politicians of the necessity of making permanent cuts in spending which, to no one’s surprise, has increased in tandem with the tax increases. The two go together like the proverbial horse and carriage. So long as Connecticut’s budget carriage carried surpluses, the road was straight and carefree.